Guest Post: Podcasts and Flipping the Classroom


This summer the HPU Tech Blog will be featuring blog posts from professors at High Point University who are actively using technology tools in the classroom.  This is the first in the series, written by Matthew Schneider.  Matthew Schneider is a Professor of English and Associate Dean at the David R. Hayworth College of Arts and Sciences.  Here is his post:

Podcasts are a centerpiece of the flipped classroom:  course content that would otherwise be covered in lecture can be recorded and delivered to students at their convenience.  Prompted by Jose Antonio Bowen’s book Teaching Naked, I recorded three podcasts for my First Year Seminar (FYS) “The Beatles and the English Poetic Tradition,” and found that these podcasts helped to solve a problem I’ve experienced since I first began teaching the course in 2010:  how do I introduce students who are unfamiliar with the Beatles’ music and artistic evolution to the band’s canon of 217 songs?

This problem is magnified by the purpose of First Year Seminar (FYS), which is to initiate students into the intellectual culture of the university by examining an issue, problem, concept, or hypothesis.  FYS, in other words, are oriented toward critical thinking skills development, not toward content coverage.  To devote substantial class time to listening to and discussing the Beatles’ music runs counter to the pedagogical aims of FYS.

Still, some familiarity with the history and artistry of the Beatles is necessary to evaluate the historical and critical hypotheses advanced in the course.  How can this familiarity be developed without taking up too much face-to-face time?

Using Garage Band, I recorded three podcasts, each of which provides commentary on sample songs from the three periods of the Beatles’ career, and uploaded them to Blackboard.  For each podcast I wrote a multiple-choice quiz, making sure that questions reflected specifics of my commentary.  This helps ensure that students can’t merely look up the answers to factual questions without having listened to the podcast.

Since this was my first time using podcasts, I made the activity worth 20 extra credit points.  (This was to make sure no student’s grade could be adversely affected by a poorly designed or executed podcast or quiz.) More than half of the students (10 of 18) completed the podcast quizzes, with an average score of 18.1 per quiz.

Overall, I think the podcasts were a success, and will incorporate them as required activities the next time I teach “The Beatles and the English Poetic Tradition.”

Example of podcast from Matthew Schneider:

How the podcasts look in Blackboard:


Beatles image taken from:

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