Interview with winning student podcaster
My interview sought to examine the process of creating the podcast, with an emphasis upon the contribution of the activity to the development of Manu and Raj’s academic skills. Significant skills work was identified in the following areas:
- Team working – the students organized themselves into a small production team, identifying the required roles and allocating them with consideration of skills and interests.
- Research – as Manu makes clear, preparing effectively with a sound understanding of the subject area and the interviewee was essential.
- Accessing and using archive material – particularly relevant to a podcast dealing with historical events.
- Awareness of the audience – consideration was given as to how to produce a podcast that could be listenable for 15 minutes. The use of a small and well placed degree of humour worked particularly well.
- Synthesis and analysis of a range of ideas, arguments and materials. Very much an audio essay.
- Academic and interpersonal sensitivity – being aware of difficult areas, and approaching them carefully.
- Identifying and highlighting key points.
- Technical skills – recording, editing and publishing.
Two areas of difficulty were identified:
- Finding and accessing the required audio resources.
- Understanding and applying the relevant copyright and IPR practices.
These are particularly problematic areas, for which we should provide more support.
A further lesson to be taken from the interview is that, with the availability of user friendly software (Apple Garage Band), editing can be easy and can add to the academic process. For example, Manu and Raj replaced a long and too imprecise question with a shorter alternative more suited to the answer given by the interviewee. This is contrary to the advice given to the competition participants, as I warned them to avoid editing. However, few of them had access to such good software.
I conclude that this case substantiates my claim that student podcasting and interviewing is a valuable addition to research based learning approaches. In addition, I also believe that it adds some support to more radical conjectures:
- That an audio production of this kind is in many ways equivalent to a written essay.
- That as a skills and academic development task it is much better than the traditional seminar presentation, but still within the ability level of the average student.
- That podcasting can improve student self-confidence.
- That reconsidering the academic process as being a production process analogous to the production of a “programme” provides the participants with a more tangible and user friendly product with which they can be more involved and responsible.