Lockdown listening: the 10 best education podcasts you should check out
Our pick of the best podcasts ranging from Hamlet and PE to science and biodiversity
Podcasts are ideal for students to access support to material taught in school and for teachers to access continuous professional development. Photograph: iStock
With schools and colleges shut, teachers and students are exploring an array of digital platforms to engage with learning. And many are finding that podcasts are ideal for students to access support to material taught in school and for teachers to access continuous professional development (CPD).
Professionals from all areas of education have made or contributed to podcasts that cover any number of subject areas and teaching strategies: familiarity, it seems, has bred content. We’ve scoured the internet for the most interesting and engaging of the lot: here’s our guide to some of the best:
Presented by primary teacher Seán Delaney, a new episode is published weekly giving an Irish perspective on education. It covers a comprehensive list of topics and is the crème de la casts when it comes to education.
Listeners can choose from almost 400 episodes on topics that range from leadership in education, literacy, to European education and psychology.
Other episodes dole out practical advice on school tour preparation, the dreaded inspector and debates the merits-or lack of- of homework. The episodes vary in length with some breaking the hour mark, but most are at the aurally appealing length of 30 minutes or under.
This US podcast is aimed at teachers and students throughout all areas of education. It discusses evidence- based practice and learning, by examining cognitive psychology and its application in education.
Each episode deals with one strategy that might be helpful to students, including retrieval practice, dual-coding, spaced practice and concrete examples.
The episode on retrieval practice might be of interest to students looking to fine tune their study habits as they prepare for exam season.
Another episode on literacy and making mistakes, identifies the positive role mistakes play in a students’ learning along with some of the mistakes teachers can make when teaching literacy.
The episodes vary in length from 10-30 minutes long. There is an accompanying website where listeners can also download a poster related to the strategy discussed along with other support materials.
It will come as no surprise that there are a multitude of podcasts available on all things Shakespeare, but The Hamlet Podcast, created by theatre and opera director Conor Hanratty, stands out for several reasons.
Hanratty has mastered the magic of three: content, analysis and brevity. The 10-minute episodes are long enough to give you an understanding and short enough to keep you engaged and coming back. There is also a distinct lack of gimmick as he lets Shakespeare’s language do the talking.
Hanratty was inspired by Frank Delaney’s podcast on Ulysses. “It’s called “Re:Joyce” and it attempted to unpack and unlock the novel in about seven years’ worth of five-minute episodes. Sadly, Frank died before it was completed - a real tragedy,” says Hanratty.
In his podcast, Hanratty divides Hamlet into segments of about 20 lines for what he expects to be about 200 episodes and it is listened to by teachers and students alike.
This podcast offers a veritable buffet of food for educational thought. Each episode discusses theories and interventions that may challenge, support or change educational practices.
The discussion-based format explores topics such as memorisation, neuroscience, and empathic approaches to discipline.
Trialled and Tested is a UK based podcast with evidence-based education as its focus. One recent episode examines the impact social and emotional learning in primary school can have on a student’s academic performance as well as the positive impact it has on mental health and wellbeing.
Staying with the UK, the Tes podcast has over 400 episodes for teachers from all areas of education. While some of the episodes are aimed specifically towards those teaching in the UK, most episodes have a broad appeal.
There are also some useful episodes for newly qualified teachers on the highs and lows of your first year of teaching or advice on how to update your CV.
This American podcast is aimed at teachers interested in health and physical education.
It discusses research on topics such as physical literacy, game sense and use of technology in PE. The show also looks at the PE curriculums from a variety of countries, including Norway, Canada and Australia.
One of the more recent episodes discussed the Irish Primary PE curriculum and may be of interest to teachers wishing to learn more about the proposals in the new primary curriculum framework.
The nature-based podcast describes itself as a ‘podcast with legs’ and while its content’s appeal is not limited to those working in a classroom, it will be of interest to teachers with an interest in biodiversity and wishing to upskill themselves on all things creepy crawlie.
Jerome Devitt, teacher of Politics and Society, has created a podcast that includes the student voice. Each episode deals with topics from Brexit to the Council of Europe. Devitt started the podcast as a resource for teachers and students starting out with the new subject.
“It was a brand-new subject and there were very few resources for teachers and students themselves to use, so part of it was to create a community if knowledge that we would all share,” says Devitt. Student voice and gender balance are observed in each episode.
“I wanted to have gender balance because we teach patriarchy and gender equality as part of the course,” says Devitt. The podcast can also be used by students who considering taking the subject.
“If students are unsure about a new subject and they listen in to a podcast it maybe helps them make an informed decision about whether they want to do it or not,” says Devitt, “ It gives them a little snippet of it ideas it will deal with.”
Elaine Smith, freelance broadcast journalist, teaches a course on podcasting for teachers and has some advice for those interested in making their own podcast to help fellow teachers or students access content without adding to screen time during the remote learning experience.
“Podcasts can be introduced to the classroom in a number of ways,” says Smith. Teachers who have already completed a course can publish their own podcast. “Teachers could create episodes with content on the crucial parts of exams or even provide a podcast with key notes on particular modules,” says Smith.
She says that podcasts can be the change that gives the students the break. “It’s a quick an easy way for kids to access educational content and is a break from the books. Maybe a popular podcaster has a guest or has an episode which relates to a topic in class, this may encourage pupils to learn from a different source,” says Smith.
Teachers who are familiar with skills involved in creating and publishing podcasts can teach the techniques to their students. “As a result, they are learning how to create content based on their classwork,” says Smith.