Podcasting in Class: Course planning for Spring 2024

As the semester winds down and final grading is in progress, I am looking ahead towards the Spring 2024 semester, when I will be teaching International Relations & Popular Culture for the first time. It is both a nerdy interest niche of mine, but I also think that field of popular culture is expanding, gaining more grounds, and operating as something relatable to our students. So, I guess – be prepared to see more of that type of content in the new year.

I have decided to incorporate a semester-long podcasting project as the students’ main research project, in which they will produce a public-facing piece of research. I imagine this is the first time most of my students will be engaging with such a project. But this is also a new assignment for me, and I am both excited and wondering what hurdles I haven’t thought of yet. I am building this on a previous guest post by John McMahon (2021) and his APSA Educate resource. Below, I have outlined the overall premise. What wisdom do you have to turn this project into something that can rival Joe Rogan’s podcasting dominance?

Assignment Outline:

  1. Each student (or in pairs) will create a 10 – 12-minute-long podcast episode, in which they will discuss a movie of their choice, and analyze it for its political impact. This includes the following:
  • What is the movie about?
  • What is the history behind the making of the movie? What is the movie’s impact?
  • What themes stand out in the movie’s narrative, in its making, its casting or its impact in international relations?
  • They are asked to use audio snippets from the movie or other sound clips. Additionally, they are supposed to reference at least two class readings to position the political salience of the themes.
  • Conclusion: Why have they chosen the movie? What would they like their audience to take away from the movie?

2. The assignment is split up into three overarching sections throughout the semester, allowing me to space out the assignment and not overwhelm them in the last couple of weeks:

  • Research the movie.
  • Writing the script.
  • Recording the podcast episode.

3. We will be supported in this assignment by our University’s Library Services, as they provide general education on how to “do” podcasting, spaces in which recording can take place, and also equipment that students can borrow to record on their own.

4. These podcast episodes will be published as a collective at the end of the semester with support of the University’s infrastructure to allow for wider reach of the students’ work.

Thoughts/Concerns:

  1. Is 10 – 12 minutes too ambitious? Should it be shorter? Longer perhaps?
  2. I really hope the students embrace the opportunity to be creative. I need to ensure throughout the semester that I do not anticipate perfection or instant podcasting genius. Rather, I want them to see this as a genuine occasion to have “fun” with research and its public presentation.
  3. I am inviting Library Services to class to provide an overview of the “doing” of podcasting. Are there additional resources (i.e., readings, videos, etc.) that I should incorporate? (Aside from the obvious feedback/support on research and writing).
  4. I would love to have some sort of podcasting “festival” at the end of the semester, where the students get a chance to at least present their work to each other – but maybe to others in the campus community. Are there any fun ways folks have done this in the past?  

4 Replies to “Podcasting in Class: Course planning for Spring 2024”

  1. Do you have a campus radio station willing to broadcast the recordings as a part of a series?

  2. Hi Jennifer. I have done a podcasting assignment in my political theory class that similarly asks students to apply course readings to something outside of the course (in my case, a current political issue). Rather than make them public-facing (my concern is that the pressure this being out in the world will inhibit rather than spark creativity), they are required to listen to a couple of their classmates’ podcasts and comment on them in an online class discussion forum. This has worked well: in general, student comments are very supportive of their classmates’ work, and the students really seem to appreciate the validation that comes from positive peer feedback.

  3. Ah! That is a good point. Maybe I can find a middle point and do both the in-class commenting and voluntary (!) public-facing site. I was only thinking about “if you put all this work in, show it to the world”-mindset. Thank you for that feedback!

Comments are closed.