Reflections on my Spring 2024 Podcasting Project

In Spring 2024, I conducted a semester-long podcasting project with my students in my “International Relations and Popular Culture” class. I wrote about this idea last December if you want to get a broader overview of what I did. I want to use this post to provide some reflections on how it went, and what sort of changes I will be making in the Fall 2024 semester in two sections of the same course. I think podcasting projects are a fantastic way to have students conduct traditional research. But then they get to write podcast scripts and record episodes which ask them to translate more academic based research  into forward-facing publicly engaging content.

  • A clear assignment outline is imperative (duh!):
      • Be specific about what you want the students to do. Most of them will do this for the first time, and they are terrified. The more guidance they have, the more confident they will feel about this assignment.
        • In their reflections, many students made note that they know feel like podcasts are doable and not that “scary”.
      • The more questions you can provide for them to research the better. I found that a lot of times they went above and beyond in their research. However, if they don’t know where to start you can point them to your list of research questions.
  • Research Thoughts:
    • I realized that students need more guidance on where to look for information about movies.
      • I found myself either in office hours or in feedback providing additional resources that students hadn’t considered. This includes actual academic work about movies or even reviews of the movie (especially older ones from when they were released).
  • Writing the Script:
    • I provided on our class websites resources on how to approach the script writing process. I was genuinely surprised how many of the students wrote amazing scripts on the first try. My feedback usually dealt with transitions being clunky or some political theme needing to be addressed further.
  • Recording the episodes:
      • The students and I went on a brief “fieldtrip” to the campus’ podcasting studio and the team behind it. Some of the students used this resource, but a lot of them recorded in their homes with their computers/phones.
      • We discussed in class how long it takes to read one double-spaced page (2ish minutes). But I want to add to my prompt next semester some considerations on how to read (i.e., speed, breathing, considering punctuation, etc.).
  • Thoughts/Concerns I had prior to the assignment:
      • 10 – 12 minutes are not too ambitious. I had several students who submitted way longer podcast episodes. Regarding creativity, many of them were hesitant to embark on such a project. Their reflections though showed that they enjoyed it. Many remarked that the scaffolding of the assignment really helped to enjoy the project.
    • In our last class together, we had a little podcasting festival. I divided the students into themed panels. Each panelist briefly summarized the movie, and then I had one/two question for each panel. These questions were broad to invite all panelists into the conversation. And yes I brought cookies and seltzer to “spruce” it up.
      • I coined the series “Colgate at the Movies”. You can check out examples here. Please note that the students listed in season 1 have agreed to have their work shared publicly.

I projected these flyers onto the screen during the festival.

  • Thoughts for Fall 2024:
      • The prompt needs to be a bit more specific (see thoughts above).
      • This past semester, students could choose to either be in a group of two or pursue the project on their own. For next time, I am considering putting the students into groups of two to plan a podcast episode. Some of the students remarked on the fact that the “chumcast” format might create more of a communal feeling – as opposed to working on a project alone. I don’t know yet whether to do that, as I also know that students do not like to be forced into group projects.