How Podcasts Can Help Improve Learning

You might have heard about how popular podcasts are amongst today’s youth, but did you know that they offer benefits beyond entertainment? Many podcasts center around teaching the listener something new, but listening to podcasts can actually help improve your child’s learning.

Auditory Learners

There are four main types of learners–visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic–but because of how modern classrooms operate, teachers mostly tend to teach visually. Through the use of interactive whiteboards and iPads providing examples and visual aides, it’s easy for students to be taught visually and kinaesthetically. Reading and writing are still a huge part of any lesson, so the only learning type that gets neglected is the auditory learner. While most students rely on all four in conjunction, those who lean on auditory might find themselves unaccommodated. This is where podcasts come into play.

For auditory learners, the audio-heavy nature of podcasts offers an alternative way to communicate information for those kids who might not respond as well to other methods. These short informational broadcasts serve as useful tools throughout their education and create an engaging way to access new information. As more teachers are beginning to incorporate the format into their lessons, it’s a good idea to introduce podcasts to your child in order to help introduce them to new ideas and concepts.

Reading Skills

Oddly enough, some teachers have noticed that podcasts can help students improve their reading skills. English teacher Michael Godsey introduced podcasts into his lessons, and noticed that many of his students prefered to listen while reading along with a transcript of the audio. It isn’t hard to surmise that the act of reading with an audio guide allowed these students to sound out more complex words and progress at their own rate.

There have been many findings to back up this idea, none more successful than when television networks introduced Same Language Subtitling in India. The report states that “in the last nine years, functional literacy in areas with SLS access has more than doubled. And the subtitles have acted as a catalyst to quadruple the rate at which completely illiterate adults become proficient readers.” It’s also likely that combining audio and visuals can help students learn English as a second language.

Hands-on learning

More and more teachers have introduced podcasts into their lessons, providing their students with unique learning experiences. The students of a 5th grade class at The Park School were assigned to create podcasts about immigrants who recently came to America. The hands-on experience of creating a podcast allowed these students to hear different voices and languages. Through the process, the students  learned the technical aspects of recording and conducting interviews. After taking the time to craft a full podcast, they would be able to internalize the information.

Most importantly, it taught them how important storytelling is during the learning process. By crafting a powerful story, the students were able to connect with their subjects on a much more emotional level and the podcast became a tool for deeper learning.

Teachers are using podcasts to offer students feedback on their work, and are assigning them as projects for final exams. Podcasts are becoming a powerful learning tool all around the world, but even if your child isn’t using them in the classroom, it’s time to introduce them to this new medium of enlightenment.

Click here for the accompanying infographic Making The Case for Podcast-Learning

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