Part 1: Spring 2015 Labs

13 Audio and Podcast Assignments — 10.25.2018

Audio and podcast assignments require students to organize, synthesize, and manipulate information differently than a traditional essay or quiz. At the October 25, 2018 Active Teaching Lab, participants discussed scenarios well-suited for audio assignments in addition to how to structure, facilitate, and grade audio productions. Attendees explored multimedia options for students to express content mastery and the logistics to make it all happen. 


  • Podcasts provide opportunity for students to go in-depth with a topic, with time for unpacking and reflection without the cognitive load of attending to a lecture.
  • Using podcasts successfully in the classroom requires teaching students how to listen. Try in-class listening with a worksheet that guides students through the process, helping them to identify main points, supporting evidence, transitions in speakers and points of view, and other facets of the conversation you want them to notice. Then provide them the same worksheet to try the process on their own at home.
  • The purpose of podcast creation assignments can be content synthesis, but it can also be presentation skills. Weigh the importance of production value vs. content and assess final products accordingly.
  • Uses of podcasts outside the communication arts include audio assignments to demonstrate language proficiency, analysis of soundscapes, and debates.
  • Tried-and-true podcast listening and creation options include:
    • Anchor — Adds a soundtrack or sound effects to a recording, automatically adjusting the soundscape based on when someone is speaking
    • Microsoft Sway — Creates a web page that can contain audio but also other media, as well; can be published broadly but also limited to classroom or more personal circulation 
    • Audacity — Considered the “standard,” most widely used podcasting app
    • Kaltura MediaSpace — Has both audio and video capabilities that integrate smoothly into Canvas
    • SoundTrap — Allows user-friendly collaborative recording
    • Soundcloud — Features an annotation tool to leave and view comments and reactions throughout the podcast
    • ClustrMaps — Tracks site hits so that students can see the reach of their self-produced, publicly available podcasts. (E.g. someone from Australia accessed my podcast!)
    • MERIT provides podcast kits that look intimidating but really only require about 10 minutes of training to get up and running. 
    • Check out other equipment and training resources available at UW-Madison.

For more information on audio and podcast assignments, visit the session’s activity sheet.


The Active Teaching Lab is a Faculty Engagement program with sessions held on Thursdays from 1:00-2:00pm (room 302) and Fridays from 8:30-9:45am (room 120) in the Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.) during fall 2018. Check out upcoming Labs or read the recaps from past Labs. We build interdisciplinary conversations that are more emergent than a presenter and more dynamic than a panel — a conversation with colleagues sharing challenges, solutions, and experiments on topics selected by a variety of stakeholders.

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Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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