Podcasts are quietly gaining popularity as form of education

Technology has been changing the way we view education. For a long time now, educators have been cutting back on textbooks and investing in advanced technology to enhance learning, from PowerPoints to online test-taking. Podcasting has been around for a while now, and although it may not be as popular as it used to be, it's coming back as one of the most effective learning tools in educational systems. 

One of the greatest advantages of educational podcasts is the accessibility and portability they offer. Instead of attending a long lecture where people don't often pay attention, listening to an educational podcast might be better for students who are always on the go. By downloading podcasts to a mobile device, students can access their materials anywhere and even make going to the gym a little more bearable. 

The benefits of podcasting are endless. It serves as an informative source for those who miss class, expands people’s critical thinking skills and even helps those with visual impairments. To many students, podcasting is an alternative to reading and maintaining a long attention span, as most get bored and impatient easily. Students are able to gain knowledge in subject areas outside of their professor's teachings through podcasts.

For example, the best type of history class covers subjects beyond the textbook and explores things that students don't often hear. Students have generally been taking history classes for most of their educational lives, but its teachings usually don't stay in long-term memory due to lack of collective interest.

But an exciting history podcast, such as “Stuff You Missed in History Class,” serves to bring students the most interesting and outrageous stories from the subject. Similarly, students have the option to listen to a podcast on something they enjoy rather than waste time in a lecture hall just trying to pass a class. This can also apply to STEM majors who don't enjoy learning about philosophy or writing essays for classes and instead want something relevant to the sciences.

One of the many goals professors have is to make sure that students enjoy what they're learning about and have the desire to continue their education outside of the classroom. “Podcasts are doing just that. In the process of listening to various podcasts outside of the classroom, students open themselves to millions of hours of content,” said Thomas Goldman, a Santa Clara University junior, according to Santa Clara University Scholar Commons.

Chenjerai Kumanyika, an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies, recently won a Peabody Award for being the co-creator of Gimlet Media podcast “Uncivil.” More specifically, he was recognized for the episode entitled “The Raid,” which retold the true story of the planning and execution of a covert operation that led to the freeing of 750 enslaved men, women and children. Information like this isn’t taught in the average history class, and Kumanyika's example demonstrates how podcasting can make an audience more engaged and excited about learning new topics. 

“Through ‘Uncivil,’ we wanted to demonstrate how cutting-edge journalism and media can teach the history of the Civil War and show how it connects to issues that still structure the lives of Americans today,” Kumanyika said. 

The idea of supplementing certain classes with something more accessible may be the way of the future, and education stands to benefit from this change. Students could potentially become more proactive in educating themselves, and listening to different types of podcasts can open up paths of new ideas and information apart from the ones they usually receive in classrooms. 

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