Podcasts as Pedagogy: Ideas for How to Teach History with Podcasts

AHA Session 191
Sunday, January 5, 2020: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Chelsea (Sheraton New York, Lower Level)
Elizabeth Covart, Omohundro Institute
Erin Bartram, independent scholar
Whitney Martinko, Villanova University
Fabricio Prado, College of William and Mary
Andrew Swan, Bigelow Middle School

Session Abstract

Podcasts stand as the perfect media for our mobile, digital age. They are streamable and downloadable audio files you can listen to anytime, anywhere. They are also an intimate media. Evolution has hardwired humans brains to learn through oral storytelling. This makes podcasts particularly enjoyable to consume.

The podcast ecosystem consists of over 630,000 podcasts, a figure that grew by over 60,000 podcasts in 2018. Thousands of those podcasts are about history, a genre so popular with listeners, podcast directories such as Apple Podcasts have created separate “history” categories to ease listeners’ ability to find them. With 2019 predicted to be “the year of the podcast in higher education,” historians and history educators should discuss how they can use podcasts as a pedagogical tool to teach and convey history in their classrooms.

“Podcasts as Pedagogy: Ideas for How to Teach History with Podcasts” will offer a lively roundtable discussion and exchange of ideas about how history educators from grade school through grad school can use podcasts to teach and convey history to their students. Four panelists will jump start the conversation by offering examples of how they’ve used podcasts in their own classrooms.

Andrew Swan has utilized podcasts in many ways: to introduce a unit, for optional enrichment, in learning stations or jigsaws, and as recommended sources for research. For his eighth-grade history classes, podcasts like Ben Franklin's World and BackStory provide excellent insights into the historical process. They also help Andrew connect students with historians. In one assignment, students write to historians they’ve heard speak on a podcast and those historians usually respond to the student.

In her United States History Survey, Erin Bartram used podcasts to encourage her students to consider historical arguments and historiography. Using episodes of Ben Franklin’s World, Bartram asked her students to think about how historians conceptualize, research, and write new interpretations about the past and how history professors think about, write, and revise their courses to make an argument about the past.

Fabrício Prado uses podcasts to help students examine the interconnected histories of Colonial Latin America, Early America, and the Atlantic World. He sees podcasts as a useful way to convey the fluidity that characterized the Atlantic World before the emergence of nation states and to integrate historiographical traditions into the classroom.

Whitney Martinko will share how she turned podcasts into a real-life consulting experience for her master’s students. Students in her public history practicum spent a semester thinking about the ways a podcast series could produce good history in service of the mission of The Woodlands: a historic site, active cemetery, and neighborhood green space in West Philadelphia. Martinko will speak about the process of building a graduate course around the creation of a podcast series, from research to writing to recording to public presentation. Her presentation will focus on the ways in which this process can help students become better historians by thinking about new ways to write, argue, and use evidence.

See more of: AHA Sessions