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Podcasts bring variety to teaching

At their best, podcasts can inspire and motivate students to learn about different topics.
Tomi Kauppinen and Miikka J. Lehtonen at Otaniemi campus.
Tomi Kauppinen and Miikka J. Lehtonen are planning the season 3 of the Cloud Reachers podcast.

Podcasts have quickly become popular platforms for learning and sharing knowledge and ideas. People at Aalto University have also been curious about this medium, and now podcasts are even used in teaching.

‘You can learn a surprising amount of new information by making and listening to podcasts as well as draw inspiration and motivation from them’, says Tomi Kauppinen (Project Leader at Aalto Online Learning and Docent in Media Technology) and Miikka J. Lehtonen (Visiting Assistant Professor at Aalto ARTS and BIZ in 2016-2019). They are working together on the Cloud Reachers podcast and are now sharing their thoughts on the use of podcasts in teaching.

Podcasts can be significant sources of inspiration

Kauppinen has started to use podcasts as teaching material in his own courses and has received only positive feedback. ‘One of my students told me that they had worked on information visualisations all night after being inspired by the podcasts I recorded for the course’, Kauppinen says and continues: ‘Hearing feedback like this is one of the greatest joys of being a teacher!’ Searching and finding inspiration and motivation is rarely emphasised in teaching, but according to Kauppinen and Lehtonen, it is of primary importance.

Podcasts can be used to inspire students and arouse their interest on the topic before the course or lectures begin and provide them with thought-provoking material. ‘When students are motivated and enthusiastic about the topic, studying and learning will be a breeze’, Kauppinen emphasises.

Podcasts offer new opportunities since people can listen to them, for example, on a walk by the sea or in the park.

Tomi Kauppinen

Varied teaching methods can help students reach learning goals

Teaching can be said to be undergoing a transformation. New ways of teaching and learning are explored, and an effort is being made to utilise digital tools more extensively. Kauppinen and Lehtonen believe that podcasts will play an increasingly bigger role in teaching in the future. ‘People learn in different ways. Just reading is not for everyone and therefore does not help students achieve their learning goals. Adding podcasts to course materials can significantly help students who learn by listening. Podcasts offer new opportunities since people can listen to them, for example, on a walk by the sea or in the park’, Kauppinen explains.

Both Kauppinen and Lehtonen feel that variety is important in teaching. ‘As an experiment during the pandemic, I have made podcasts where I read the summaries of the articles in my course and explained why each of the articles is an important read. It would also be great to try making podcasts where I read my own articles. It could help many students and at the same time inspire others to learn more about the topic’, says Lehtonen.

Of course, listening to or making podcasts is not for every student or teacher. We are all different, and for some, traditional study and teaching methods are better. ‘However, it is always interesting to experiment with new things. Without experimentation, people cannot acquire new knowledge and skills’, Kauppinen says. He also mentions how easy it is to record and publish podcasts nowadays.

Aalto University has a new A Pod podcast studio that students, teachers and researchers can use freely.

Thought-provoking autumn listening - dive into the world of podcasts

Our podcasts provide diverse content on learning, science, business, work life and philosophy, among other things. Don on your earphones and get listening!

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Cloud Reachers podcast

Listen to the Cloud Reachers podcast onSoundcloud.

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