Episode 106
Student-Produced Podcasts with Stacey M. Johnson and Derek Bruff

In this episode, Leading Lines’ own Stacey Margarita Johnson and Derek Bruff discuss student-produced podcasts. Stacey and Derek share their own experiences with podcast assignments and, by searching through the Leading Lines rich archives, also bring in voices from past episodes so we can hear their stories as well.


Previous episodes referenced in this episode:

Read more about Stacey’s podcasting assignment in this blog post.

Read more about Derek’s podcasting assignment in this blog post.




Derek Bruff: [0:00] I’m Derek. Stacy Johnson: [0:08] And I’m Stacy Johnson. Derek: [0:11] And we we’re trying something a little bit different for this episode. We are going to take a look back and a theme that we’ve covered in the podcast before. And Stacy, now you’re going to chat and maybe share some clips from some past episodes and see where this goes. Stacy: [0:26] Yeah, I’m actually pretty excited about it because this, the topic for today is Student pretty podcasts. It’s something that you and I both think about and actively work on a lot and I’m excited to learn from you today. Yeah. Likewise, I mean, normally I’m not excited to learn from today’s an exception. Derek: [0:26] So, it’s not just nodding and smiling when I talk. Stacy: [0:50] That’s good. I hope that the genuine affection behind the SNARK comes through. Alright, so podcasts are everywhere. Everyone is doing a podcast every person on Earth has for podcasts, I think so. Yes. I have a podcast and I work on this one obviously. And I try to do crossover episodes between the two to make it shouldn’t, because it’s a lot of podcasts dose. I know you have your hands on multiple Podcast too. Derek: [1:21] I do. There are leading lines. I also helped to produce Vandy Vox, which is a podcast that features audio produced by students around campus. And I have a course podcast for my cryptography course as well called onetime pod. And as a side hustle, I have a little board game podcasts than I do just for fun.  As a hustle that, that implies that it’s monetized. Derek: [1:45] We’ll then I use the wrong word. Stacy: [1:49] I’ve been thinking about monetizing some of my extracurricular activities, but that, that makes me so tired they no longer sound any fun. It’s exhausting. Yeah. Uh-huh. I guess my first question for you, Derek, is everyone is talking about podcasts this week in particular, everyone’s talking about Joe Rogan. What is your take on the Joe Rogan situation? Derek: [2:10] I thought he was an excellent host of fear factor back in the early 2000s. He seemed well-matched that show.

Stacy: [2:19] I’ve never heard a better description than he was well-matched to fear factor. That’s a really great way to put it. Derek: [2:28] In terms of its podcast. There’s a lot we could say about that, but I think one of the things that is pretty interesting that I, I, I saw a tweet by Avery truffle man who’s a podcaster and video producer, used to work on 99% invisible. And she, she basically pointing out that Joe Rogan is kind of in hot water right now for some of the content and his podcasts. But he has a Spotify exclusive, which means the only way you can listen to Joe Rogan Podcast is 2 is through your Spotify app. I don’t use Spotify to listen to podcasts. I have another app and a lot of people use the podcast app that Apple provides. So, his exclusivity is actually limiting his audience, which I thought was a somewhat provocative statement, right? Stacy: [3:11] No, I have never downloaded Spotify, I’ve never used it for anything. I’ve also never listened to Joe Rogan podcast. But if there were podcasts that are very popular, podcasts that were available on iTunes that I was used to listening to that were suddenly to sign an exclusive deal. I think that would be really frustrating for me that I download a new app. Derek: [3:20] And, you know, I’ll be a cranky old name here for a second. But back in my day, back when the first wave of podcast came out in the early 2000s, it was hard to get a podcast to a device where you could listen to it. And the technology behind podcast was RSS, really simple syndication. Stacy: [3:38] I know how you feel about RSS. Derek has a documented affection or a headset feeds. Derek: [3:44] So, I kind of feel like if you don’t have a publicly available RSS feed for your quote podcast. It’s not really a podcast. It’s like an audio show that you can watch through an app, but it, or listen to throw it out. But it’s a podcast, kind of involves putting it out there in a way that people can subscribe using whatever app they wish. Stacy: [4:00] But that’s sort of mirrors. What’s happening in a lot of the media is, for a while it seemed like everything was becoming more conglomerated. We were we were all deciding on one way to do something. Everything was getting very big, very massive. And in the last few years it feels like everything’s breaking back up into these little slivers, marketable content, content that we can charge by the byte.

Derek: [4:20] Yeah, I had, I had a phase where I was I was getting my DVDs from Netflix in the mail and I liked it because I can order any DVD that had ever been produced. Yeah. I just had to wait two or three days to get it in the mail. It wasn’t streaming. Stacy: [4:31] Do they not have that service anyway? Derek: [4:34] I hear they do, actually. Stacy: [4:35] That’s great. Derek: [4:36] Yeah. But now I worry that something, some things aren’t being released on DVD. And so now I have to subscribe to Peacock and Paramount Plus and all these other weird channels. Stacy: [4:44] We have a one in, one out rule. One month we do when serviced and then another kid gets to choose another. Derek: [4:52] Good. Good. Stacy: [4:53] So, Another thing is about limiting your audience is sometimes you want to limit your audience some during the conversation. Back to like a student produced podcast specifically- Derek: [5:03] I’m okay with being on topic. If you insist. Stacy: [5:07] That’s not normally my bag, but we’re going to try it. One of the things I do hear from instructors who are thinking about including student produced podcast in their courses as assignments. Is they worry that having like the open on the inner net type distribution is going to be something that it, it might draw attention to their students work in negative ways. Or later 10 years down the road, students might have some piece of content floating around that doesn’t reflect who they are now. Derek: [5:33] Actually. I used to have a blogging assignment in my course pretty regularly. And I just a few months ago, had a request from a student from about ten years ago who requested I take down her blog posts. It was just that she didn’t feel like it represented her well. Stacy: [5:46] Not like a Joe Rogan situation. Derek: [5:48] It wasn’t anything inflammatory. It just she didn’t think she didn’t think she was a good writer back then. Stacy: [5:53] Yeah. I mean, I actually feel that way about my academic publications for more than ten years ago. Derek: [5:57] I can’t read my first book. I’m such a bad writer. I mean, everyone should go out and buy it, but I’m not going to read it.

Stacy: [6:01] I’ve actually been thinking, I wonder if the publisher would let me do a second edition. There’s no demand for it, but no one wants a second edition. If I could do well and I could fix it. So, if anyone demands a second edition, you just let my publisher know, so I can get on that. All right. There’s a couple of other things about student produce podcasts that I wanted to mention that are in the ether right now. And one is that on February 28th, 2020 to NPR’s first college student podcasts challenge is closing. So, they had one last year. It was it last year, the year before when they started. It’s been two or three years just for K-12 students. But I think enough college students entered or express interests that they have a special one just for college students right now. And I know there’s another competition at Vanderbilt also. Derek: [6:51] Yeah, so this is our second year of the Excellence in podcasting competition for student produced podcast. Another audio work at Vanderbilt, it’s sponsored by the Robert been warned Center for the Humanities and our office of immersion resources and the Center for Teaching. And I’m lucky enough to be part of the organizers and the judging committee. And we had a great contest last year where we got to hear some student work from all over campus and give out some cash prizes, thanks to the humanities center. Stacy: [7:15] Love cash prizes. Derek: [7:16] Yeah. And now we’ve got another call out now through April of this year for student work. Do it again. Stacy: [7:21] Awesome. But I don’t know how many Vanderbilt students, our listeners of leading lines, but I have lots of them are, and I inspires, just submit their work or at least faculty will tell their students, yeah, how did the competition? Yeah, yeah. All right.

Derek: [7:36] I did want to say that. I’ve been saying for years now podcaster having a moment, but I did look up in the Pew Research Foundation reported in 2021 that of Americans ages 12 and over, 41% reported they had listened to a podcast in the past month. And I think this is something that has probably changed a lot since the pandemic started. We’ll talk more about the podcast assignments in our courses. But prior to 2020, when I asked my students if they’d ever listened to a podcast, generally they said No, it was very rare for my students are first year undergraduates of a traditional college age, so they’re usually 18 or so. And they, they’d never listen to podcasts. But when I asked my students last spring in 2021, many of them had listened to a podcast before, and I think that’s something that’s changed for kind of all adults, but especially younger adults over the course of the pandemic, has our our work and lifestyles have changed. Stacy: [8:29] Yeah. I would also sort of dig down into the academic side of podcasting as well, where I think I’ve been asking my students to do some sort of interview assignment that gets turned into a podcast for a few years now. And I’m not sure that five years ago my students understood that to be public scholarship or an opportunity for a line on their CV? Yeah. But last spring, my graduate students engaged in the assignment, understood that a podcast interview of a scholar in your field is a great networking opportunity and it’s a great line on your CV in a way that maybe was new. Derek: [9:06] Yeah. Well, a segue. We talked to a few variable faculty about podcasts and all your assignments on our leading blogs, podcasts over the years. And I think some of them even talked about these reasons for doing it and some of the rationales that they brought to it.

Stacy: [9:20] Alright, so let’s talk about some of our path leading lines episodes where we got to interview people who were doing student produce podcasts and learn from them. And I want to start with one that I think is really charming. Professor John Sloop here at Vanderbilt. And in his episode, it was part of a symposium or a panel discussion that we were doing. And he decided to talk about his first experience with student podcasting and all the things that went wrong. Which I love because we have a tendency not to talk about the things that go wrong. We want to only show off our best work. And John does not do that and I find it so instructive. So, listen to a little bit of John discussing the first time you did a strip produce podcasts and some of the things that went wrong. I find out as the semester goes along that only one of the students in the classroom has ever really listen to podcasts, none of the rest of them. So, I was wrong about that assumption. They don’t care about podcast. And I just I sign it. And what happens is at the end of the symmetric, can somebody guess what I, what I got at the end of the semester? Anybody want to guess? They did all their assignments. They turn to the papers; they turn on their podcast. It was terrible. Be a little, there’ll be a little, there’ll be a little south of the bigger because they had some sort of call music they wanted to include. And then they read their papers and ended with a little bit us out. So disappointed me. Stacy: [10:40] If you are doing a student produce podcasts. One of the things that John mentioned in his clip is that he assumes students new podcasting as a genre. And so one thing that he talked about later on in the episode, you can always go back and listen to that episode in its entirety if you’re interested. Was he talked about doing inductive analysis with a variety of different podcast examples. How do you help students identify thematic materials? How do you help them identify the boundaries of the genre? And, you know, for some of our student produce podcasts, we might want students to push the boundaries of the genre, but they have to know where those boundaries typically are in order to be able to do that. And I think in my own discipline, There’s been some research on student podcasting and how it helps students develop. I’m a language teacher, so how to help students develop language? And one of the things that’s really interesting is the transfer between when you ask students to do podcasts, there’s sort of a scaffolded writing process that they have to go through to create a great script. Yeah, and then a peer review process that really mimics what we know about great writing instruction. And when you go through that multi-step process, really planning out in each step along the way, students feel much more confident in the final product and you get better work.

Derek: [11:58] Yeah. On that note about genre and medium, it’s a fairly well-known genre of writing assignment, like a research paper. I think we often assume that our students do know the ingredients are and, and kind of what the process would be. One of the reasons I like having a very non-traditional assignment, like a podcast assignment, is that it forces me to think through, what do students really need in order to do this well? And then I have to remember, a lot of my students are going to need that for journal assignments as well. And so I need to do that same type of scaffolding, that same type of building for students on where traditional assignments. And so I need to do that same type of scaffolding, that same type of building for students when we’re traditionalist. Stacy: [12:31] I like that too, because often what we talk about its faculty is taking a new perspective on what we’re doing. Like in our scholarship and I are teaching, it really helps them live in it. And for students it would work that way as well. Podcast assignment would allow them to see the work of the course in anyway. Derek: [12:48] Yeah. Well, and I think that’s a nice setup for our next clip. Back an episode 56, we interviewed Sophie Bjork James, who is a faculty member and anthropology here. And she also does a digital media assignment, giving students the option to make podcasts. And she shared her rationale for this assignment. And it touches on this idea of helping students think through the discipline in different ways. Sophie: [13:12] We use an academic source as we, I’m sorry, I drank frame tabular media. And currently, currently because of that, started to happen. And project B, not a traditional paper, but digital media products there to do all the research and they would have to do for a traditional paper. But then they’re translating that into a format that can be shared more broadly. So I’ve heard of it is about wanting them to think of their research is having a broader audience rather than the class. Contributing to this broader public conversation which we’ve been having in the class throughout the semester and printed it is, I feel like there can be a way that writing and translating one’s research for more popular and media product can actually help them clarify their research findings and their arguments in a way that the formula at the end of learning about how to write a traditional research paper, know that there can never be as affected, sometimes isn’t as effective.

Stacy: [14:20] I want to connect that also to something that Gilbert Gonzales said and 27. So you interviewed Gilbert and you specifically asked him about audience, like how did the concept of audience play in his assignment? And lets us know what he had to say about that. Gilbert Gonzales: [14:39] All the students knew that this is going to be uploaded. Internet, that they would have a chance to connect their names and pictures if they wanted to, their faces, to broader audiences online. And I think that really raise the stakes on the quality of the work because they knew that whatever they submit it to me at the end would be available for the world to here. And so I think that they responded positively to it. Stacy: [15:07] So I think the idea that students have to take the work we’re doing, which might have a very academic focus and translate it for a different audience, for our podcast audience. Or in Gilbert’s case, He’s actually training professionals who are going to have to communicate with a wider audience in general. So he’s teaching them the skill of translation. Yeah, that’s a really interesting use case. Derek: [15:29] I think it is, and I think maybe I’m using the verb translate wrong here, maybe me. But I feel like in order to translate successfully, you have to understand the material pretty well. If you’re going to represent it in some new way, you have to know what you’re representing so that you can do that work. And so I think calling students to represent what they’re learning in an audio format requires them to kind of deeply learn that material to begin with. Stacy: [15:53] So, I mean, so far we’ve said, in order for students to use this format, they have to deeply understand the genre and the limits of the genre. Now you’re saying in order for students to learn that they have to deeply understand the material well enough to translate it to a new audience with it. New language. Yeah. So it sounds like the potential benefits like academically are really clear that you’re asking students to deeply understand form and meaning, to engage in a creative process and create something that’s meets the same learning objectives.

Derek: [16:30] Yeah, and it’s, it is complicated work. It’s hard work for students. It’s often asking them to do things they haven’t done before and their academic preparation. I want to go back to the interview with Sophie Bjork James. Yeah. Because she talks about what she asks of them to turn in not only along the way, but the final product as well. And I think it’s kind of interesting how she uses that to get a better sense of how the students approach this complex work. Sophie: [16:52] Yeah, So the finalist and there’s three parts they have to do the digital product. Three-to-five-page description, which is both an essay and addressing their research question and what kind of artist statement about what went into the product, what decisions they made, and really having them elaborate the translation of their research into the product so you can see the thinking that went behind them. And that’s assertions for them. Describe if they experienced technical challenges or which is helpful because I don’t know in the end with the end product is they had to record record this interview like ten times, right? Because they had they didn’t know how to use the equipment or yearly spent 30 hours editing because they weren’t familiar with it. Or if they were a computer science minor who just had a really easy time, say like building a website. Derek: [17:44] So,  first I want to note that she mentioned having them submit an annotated bibliography before they turn in their final project. I had not done that in my podcast assignment until I talk to Sophie for this interview. And then I started doing it. And it’s been a huge really important part of the process for students that scaffolding of finding sources, arguing why they’re credible, why they’re reliable. I think in my first-year writing seminar, that’s something that I want them to get really good at doing is working with sources. So thank you Sophie for that suggested it was fantastic. And then this kind of producer statement that she has her students, right? I think that’s important as well too, because I heard Randy Bass from Georgetown years ago at a conference talk about it wasn’t a podcast assignment, but with the digital video assignment, a kind of digital storytelling assignment. And he saw their final products, these short videos they made. And he said he didn’t know all of the choices that went into the creation of these final products. And he said that it was like some of the learning was left on the cutting room floor? Yeah. Like how can you see that? How can you see that? Whether it was intentional or not, how much effort they put into it like so if he said, I think having those producer statements is really key. One of my students had done such a good job with the music cues and his podcast episode that I hadn’t even realized how intentional they work because they worked so fluidly with his content. It wasn’t until I read his producer statement that I realized just how intentional he had been picking that music along the way.

Stacy: [19:06] Now, I can’t help but think back to is play 10 years ago, Ten plus. It was a creative assignment, wasn’t podcasting, but I had a really powerful moment with a student in office hours after she wasn’t very successful on the assignment, where I had to face the reality that I had not asked her for enough information to understand her decision-making process and my evaluation with that, correct? I didn’t I did not understand everything that went into her assignment because all I saw was the final product. So that misstep has helped me like it so much more work to imagine a good producer statement, to read all of the producer statements. To connect that produce your statements to the learning objectives and make sure that it counts. But it allows me to make sure that none of my students are putting in a lot of effort that’s not being accounted for in my evaluation. Derek: [20:00] Yeah. Or coming at something in a way that I’m not expecting. And I’m not seen as much. I started finding the there’s a couple of items on my podcast, rubric that are hard for students to do well in, but are also a little open-ended in the way, in the sense that students can accomplish this goal through different ways. So one of my podcast rubric items is interesting, this ERP like how are you making this interesting? And there’s a lot of ways students can do that. And I want them to be able to articulate to me the moves they made to make this thing interesting. Stacy: [20:32] And so, because actually whether you’re interested isn’t the point. The student is engaging with the audience and trying to garner their interests. That’s the point. Derek: [20:40] Yeah, so I start, I have now a series of prompts for the producer statements so that they really are telling me the kinds of things that I need to hear as the person assessing your work. Stacy: [20:49] Yeah. So that’s a good segue to our last clip, which is back to Gilbert Gonzalez talking about the five criteria that he uses to assess a student’s work.

Gilbert: [21:02] Exactly. So, I rely on or a grading rubric and I have five criteria. One, did you talk about the things I asked you about in the study that you talk about. The background, the research objectives, the data, the methods, the results, the limitation to that you connected to health policy or health care practice or to families or the election? Did you translate the study for what it means to everyday Americans? 3. Did you was the script submitted on time with few mistakes? So the script wasn’t, was part of the grading criteria. And the fourth element was creative expression. I want my students to really be as creative as possible to make an interesting podcast. I didn’t want them to just read a research paper to me, but I wanted, I wanted some music to be incorporated into the podcast. And they were required to use other source, audio source material. It could have been interviews with faculty, with students. Some students use audio from different news stories. So they found, maybe they went to YouTube and they saw an ABC news story about opioids for instance. And they, if they were working on a podcast, the opioid epidemic, they, they, they scraped or they pulled that audio from some other new source and included it into their podcasts. Here is the headline, your headline for exactly, yeah. Yeah. And then the last thing that I want it, What’s make sure that it was complete it professionally and ready for broad audiences. Professional development is always something that I try to work on in my classroom. These are juniors and seniors who will be, who will be entering the workforce or interviewing for medical or graduate programs. And so I want them to use this as an opportunity to practice and build their professional skills and development. Stacy: [22:48] Yeah. Or coming at something in a way that I’m not expecting. And I’m not seen as much. I started finding the there’s a couple of items on my podcast, rubric that are hard for students to do well in, but are also a little open-ended in the way, in the sense that students can accomplish this goal through different ways. So that just connects back to what we were saying earlier about his students being professionals and he’s not just looking at like the did they understand the content, did they understand the form? But one of the goals of his podcast is for students to develop the ability to communicate professionally with wider audiences. And so this is really the perfect assignment for that. I want to dig into year and my assignments a little bit more because I think that your podcasting assignment might be more in line with what we’ve seen here and I’d like to ask you some more questions. But my podcasting assignment for my students is actually very different from what we write here and doesn’t require almost any of these. And so let’s start with us and kind of dig into a little bit more. I want to know more about your rubric. What are the items on your rubric?

Derek: [23:34] So my courses, the first year writing seminar, it’s in mathematics. It’s about cryptography, codes and ciphers. And up until last year, the podcast assignment was, it’s a, it’s a history of cryptography podcast. And so the students had to tell a story about a code or cipher from history. And it was kind of a technical writing challenge because they had to explain these mathematical ideas in audio form. This year. One of the downsides of doing a podcast assignment and publishing student podcasts publicly for three years, is that all the good topics get taken. So I knew I needed to kind of shift gears a little bit. And so this past year when I had it, I change the topic. They were still history of cryptography, but the recent history of cryptography. And they had to tell a story that raise some hard questions about privacy and surveillance, which is one of the big themes of this course. And so on my rubric, I have some categories that connected with that. So one of the categories and the rubric says hard questions, right? What are the heart? And so in the excellent column of my rubric, I have a very analytic rubric, has. I’m a mathematician. I like to analyze things, but I’m looking for a podcast that poses a hard question about privacy and surveillance that strongly connected to the story that’s presented. And sometimes the hard questions are made evident by the student and sometimes they aren’t, right? Or sometimes it’s an interesting question, but it’s not tightly connected to the story that they’re telling. And so that’s where I’m looking for kind of different levels of quality. I kinda wanna see both that it’s explicitly stated by the student and it’s really strongly connected to the, to the story that they’re telling. That’s in one of the, that’s one of the categories and kind of the content section. I also have a communication section that talks about how they’re telling these stories. And so I have had the interesting this category which is pretty open-ended, right? But I’m often looking for a strong opening, right? That is one thing I asked for in the highest level does categories that they have a strong opening. I want a narrative, I wanted to tell a story. Hopefully with some type of engaging structure, could be strictly straight chronological, could be something else. I also want it to be accessible so that people who don’t have a big background in this can listen to it and make sense of it. And then I wanted to be creative. It needs to use audio in some intentional way that supports the storytelling that they’re doing.

Stacy: [25:47] Because if you’re not using audio creatively, why are you doing a podcast assignment? You might as well write a bladder. Sarah paper. Yes, I do not want. Derek: [25:53] Well, actually the lowest level on my rubric under creativity says the podcast is just the student reading an essay into a microphone. Stacy: [26:01] That’s exactly what John sleep said in his segment area, yeah. His first time around, students just read their papers into a microphone. That’s not what I’m looking for. Derek: [26:09] Yeah. I have a production section as well. Right. And so so like audio quality is in here. And so I’m looking for something with good, clear spoken word, consistent audio levels, move editing. That is one element on the rubric out of nine or 10, right? So audio quality does matter, but it matters just a very little bit compared to the story-telling. They’re doing the communication they’re doing. And this is something that sometimes students get really worried about the audio quality piece and I try to communicate that through my squirt, my rubric, my assessment mechanism, that this is a first year writing seminar. It’s not an audio production course, so it shouldn’t count for a lot. Stacy: [26:47] I honestly think that’s true that all the podcasts were involved in as well. When I have to choose between audio quality and interview quality, I go with interview quality. Like if we have to do it in a noisy room at a conference, we have to do it, we have to do, but this is a good story that we want to tell. My podcast assignment does not use a rubric. It uses a single checkbox or did you do it? Yes. You get credit. Did you not do it? No, you don’t get credit. That that’s it. Wow, you get a 100 or 0. And if you get a 0 and change your mind later, you can always turn it in and get a 100. Derek: [27:22] Yeah. Yeah. So why? Stacy: [27:23] Well, because my students aren’t actually creating their own podcasts. I already have the podcasts. I’m cultivating the audience. I manage the branding, I do all the editing and production. It’s called we teach languages. It’s interview base with language teachers, different levels. And I want my students to be able to participate as interviewers, but I don’t need them to learn any audio editing. I don’t want them to feel stressed out about the audio storytelling. That those aren’t learning objectives in my course. They don’t improve the learning experiences for my students. There’s no benefit to that. So when, when my students who are, there’ve been a couple undergraduates who participated, but it’s mostly graduate students. They find the person to interview, which can be pretty daunting. They organize the interview. So I’m really interested in like, are they putting into practice some of the questioning skills that we’re learning? Are they doing professional network? Are they able to send professional email or setup a Zoom call?

Derek: [28:27] And so the interviewees may be experts, faculty, researcher, experience language teachers. Stacy: [28:33] For instance, in my second language acquisition class, someone was doing a paper specifically about social digital reading or like social annotation tools like perusal on hypothesis. And so they contacted one of the leading researchers in teaching languages with tools like that. Yeah, and said, I’m writing this paper. I would love to get your insight. Would you mind if I interview you for a podcast? The scholar was like That would be amazing. Definitely do that. And it turned into a really fantastic episode of the podcast. But she was the one reach found out who the people are that you should talk to, reached out to them. She did all the work and then she submitted an unedited audio file to me. Yeah. She got a 100 percent on the assignment. So check the box. She did what she had. That’s the only grade you can possibly make it. And then she handed it off to me along with the consent forms of media release forms. I did the editing and production and added it to the existing podcasts that I manage, which is a very different kind of student produced podcasts work. Derek: [29:43] Yeah, Absolutely. But I think it’s important. We talked about some of the rationales for doing this and the role of audience as kind of making this work more meaningful for students. Helping them see it as part of their professional work, their professional identity. What you’ve done is you’ve made the investment in the ongoing podcast. You’ve built the audience, you have the platform. You’ve got a great way for students to come in and do this interesting little thing and actually have a built-in audience for it.

Stacy: [30:10] That’s right. So that’s, you know, the, the give-and-take of student podcasts is, I do want my graduate students to get a line on their CV to network with interesting scholars to sort of build up their portfolio of public scholarship. And the podcast isn’t a self-sacrificial teaching tool for me. I use it in my teaching, but it’s also my public scholars say, I’m benefiting from it as a scholar and I’m putting effort into it as a piece of my own scholarship. So you really just have to make sure that the assignment fits the goals. And it would not improve the quality of learning in my class at all for students to do more of the audio work themselves. But it does improve the quality of the assignment for me as someone who’s embedded in this field, to cultivate the audience and make sure they can put their best foot forward and introduce them to the people and the topics that I know. So that makes sense. Derek: [31:05] Yeah. No. I have a question about your podcasts. Has the nature I mean, a purely your rubric is pretty simple, so it may not have much over time, Lizzie, it’s easy. But have there been other elements of the assignment that has changed over time as you as you refine what you’re doing. Stacy: [31:21] So I was already doing an interview assignment before I started the podcast. I like to tell people the story is, we do a course design institute every May, here, here and here at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching. The theme of the course design institute for several years with students as producers. So having generative assignments like podcasts. So, he’s working very closely with these faculty to help them. I make all these decisions like who are going to be the creators? Are the creators, also the editors and producers who manages the podcasts. Is it public, is private, right? Decisions you have to make. And I started thinking every semester that I teach this methods course. I end up with a cache of interviews that we only ever listen to in class. So, I’m going to go a step further and say the really cool thing about the interview assignment is that I use them as texts in class. So, students have to turn in those interviews very early on in the semester. Oh, wow. Then I listen to them and I match clips from the interviews. Two topics we’re going to be discussing. So, we might listen to five or ten minutes from 234 different interviews to compare and contrast those with the readings and with our own experiences. And it’s such a wonderful way to bring in outside voices and not just center the people in the classroom all the time. But then that’s it. I do all of this works writer at the interview guide, the students do all this work to generate the interviews and then they just sit in our course management system forever, right?

Derek: [32:50] And next semester their fellow just build up over time and they’re not a reused. Stacy: [32:54] And sometimes I would also have guest speakers come in. They would do a 30 minute talk. My students would ask great questions. And then next semester I’m e-mail and my same friends, 30 minutes. All right. And so the podcast was a way for me to feel like all of this work wasn’t in vain and wasn’t cyclical. That I can invite someone to do a talk in my class. We could record it and then I can make it available to everyone. My students opt in to the podcast. So lots of students, so the change over time has been making things public. Yeah, everyone does an interview if they don’t want to find their own person interview because there’s reasons why it’s not always easy are great for students to find their in-person. I’ll connect them with someone in my network. And if they don’t want to make their interview public or if the interviewee doesn’t want their interview to be public. No harm, no foul, doesn’t have to be. But usually out of his class of 20 people, usually four or five, will make it into the podcast and a semester. Derek: [33:53] Well, you’re reminded me of a comment. There are things we learn in our professional career for just really transformative. But I remember I was mowing the yard and I was listening to a podcast. And Gardner Campbell and English faculty member was talking. He was talking about blogs. But he said how having students write for a blog turn their work into something that with both public and persistent. And that’s usually not the case, right? And before you made this into a podcast, your students work was not public and it didn’t really persist, right? It was, it was hard to get to later. And I think that’s really powerful. We’ve talked a lot already about the nature of audience and its role in here, but the persistence of the student work, I think it’s pretty interesting because it opens up doors for conversations across semesters and across time. John Sloop mentioned having his students do some inductive analysis of the genre of the medium, right? Figuring out what, what, what makes a good podcast episode. And so now I do that too. So, I know my students, even if they’ve listened to podcasts, still need to kind of explore the medium a little bit. Now I have my students listen to sample podcast. Some of them are professionally produced from some of my favorite podcast series. But some of them are, I can guess, that some of them are student produced from previous semesters. Right? Because they’re persistent. One of my changes this past-time was to start to use peruse all the annotation tool that you mentioned earlier. It had just rolled out this feature where you could put audio into the annotation tool and have students collaboratively annotate an audio clip. And so you have a little timeline at the bottom of the screen and little dots where students have paused it and added comments. And so I got to, I got to see my students encounters with these sample podcasts kind of in the moment, right? And it was interesting to see they noted storytelling moves. They noted how, you know, how people, how the producers hook the audience or explain something. But you also got little reactions like What the heck or I didn’t know. Yeah, there were lots of exclamations because some of these sample podcasts had some twists and turns in them.

Stacy: [35:46] I really like that. It is genuinely not something. I mean, and the Assistant Director for educational technology, I recommend peruse all about seven times that. I had really never thought about that. And I am sure the next time I do a podcast assignment, it is we’re going to do something like that where right now I assign podcast episodes as text along with my traditional academic articles. But having them comment on the form and the content collaboratively, I didn’t push it that far. That’s a really good idea. Derek: [36:16] Yeah, that was really fun. Stacy: [36:18] Well, this has been fantastic. A real 360-degree Comcast. We’re going to have links to all the resources that we’ve mentioned in previous episodes in the show notes. If you have questions or comments, you can always reach out to us here at the CFT as well. Derek: [36:37] What’s your what’s your Twitter handles days @Stacymargarita. Derek: [36:37] And I am at Derek Bruff. Stacy: [36:42] So we’ll continue the conversation on Twitter then. Derek: [36:45] Sounds good. Thanks Stacy. Stacy: [36:38] Thank you. Derek: [36:39] That’s all for this very first clip show episode of leading lines. Thanks to Stacy for the idea for this episode and for getting us organized and in the same room together to record. We hope you enjoyed this new format. Please let us know what you thought about it. We have a few ideas for other things to explore in future episodes like this one. Leading lines is produced by the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching and the Gene and Alexander heard libraries. You can find us on Twitter @LeadingLinesPod and on our website, leadinglinespod.com. This episode was edited by Stacy Johnson and retina. Look for new episodes the first and third, Monday of each month.


I’m your host, Derek. Bruff. Thanks for listening.


One thought on “Episode 106
Student-Produced Podcasts with Stacey M. Johnson and Derek Bruff

  1. Great episode! I like the idea of student’s submitting a “Producer’s Statement” as a way to capture the process elements that aren’t evident in the final product. BTW: what service do you use to generate the transcription of your episodes? Thanks!

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