I’ve been doing this for a while, I’m surprised I didn’t come up with this sooner!
I like to listen to Nigel Warburton’s podcasts. He’s a philosophy and ethics professor at the Open University. He has some informative guests on his show, including leading continental philosophers and other scholars from all over the world. You probably don’t care, because you’re probably not into philosophy and ethical questions (it’s not exactly very fast pace or exciting), but hey, we all have our hobbies. I also listen to podcasts on how to play the guitar, photography, and travelling: all things that reflect my interests.
I enjoy reading, but it’s cool to actually listen to the information, rather than just see it. I am not much of a visual learner, instead I do better when I hear something or interact with it. A lot of in class instruction is geared towards people like me: lecturing with note taking. But homework often takes on the form of reading, which is not everyone’s strength. Maybe this would be a good alternative to simply having reading as homework? Not everyone reads at the same pace, some readings may take one student 15 minutes and another student an hour. But a half an hour podcast is a half an hour (that is if you listen to the whole thing and don’t go back and replay anything). It’s also a great opportunity for guided listening. This would keep the students focused while they were doing their homework and would help make sure that they actually did it and listened to it, rather than just saying they did.
I think the best way to keep students involved in a topic is to switch it up: if you just try to teach it one way, they’re going to get bored. Libravox has audiobooks of entire books online, for free! If you’re an English teacher you can have students listen to Shakespeare or Orwell if that’s easier for them then reading it. With such a push on individualizing lesson plans for meeting each student’s needs, here is a great opportunity to do that. I’ve stressed in previous blog posts that we should be doing everything we can to help a student succeed, and using technology is one way of doing that. By offering more than one way of receiving information we are creating more opportunities for acquiring new knowledge.