Educational Podcast

Elements and Structure of Engaging Educational Podcast

How do educators create a podcast for their class or just to educate a general audience? How could educators use podcasts in-class, and how do podcasts both help educators and benefit students? What is an excellent educational podcast structure to engage audiences that educators can use? How can educators sound appealing to the audience and be a good podcast host? 

These questions are essential for creating a quality podcast. The below article will address the current controversy of whether podcasts are a good or terrible idea for a class and how to create a high-quality podcast. Luckily, below we have answered those questions for you. 

Podcasts by Genre (LN)

As you can see, Education is the 3rd most popular genre of podcasts, so exploring how to build an excellent educational podcast is crucial. It will help you to produce a better show, be more attractive for listeners and stand out among the competition.

Educational Podcast - benefits for students

Educational Podcasting – Benefits for Students

Convenient to listen during a commute or other activities, engaging format

With handheld devices and portable laptops, students can listen to content from most of their smaller devices from practically anywhere. 

This is convenient for college students and high school students who want to study for tests or finals. Students can look at podcasts to recall anything they may have missed when they took their notes in class or just need a study tool for upcoming exams. 

Due to podcasts being easily accessible for students, they are more likely to listen to educational podcasts on their way to class, on a bus, etc., than read a much less convenient textbook.

Educational Podcasts allow students who missed a class to catch up on the presented content during the class lecture. 

For some educators, this seems like a recipe for disaster. Providing students the same content online discussed during a class lecture is feared to lead to lower attendance rates. Some educators are concerned that students would rely more on the podcasts than coming to lecture. However, a professor at the University of Kent in the UK, named Darren Griffen, says that since he started testing his students on the material in the podcasts, 98% of them have come to class each day on average. 

Improves Opportunity Among all the Students

Educational Podcasting gives disabled students, who could suffer from a variety of learning disabilities, a way to learn information without having to read or view the board in class. Those who struggle in school due to dyslexia, poor sight, or other disabilities, could greatly benefit from recorded lectures. This will allow these students a more equal opportunity to learn alongside their peers.

Podcast Create an active listening environment

Creative educational podcasts that require student engagement create an active listening environment, helping students to hone their listening skills and deeper understanding

A study conducted by Anguelina Popova and Palitha Edirisingha explored how podcasts are changing the educational setting and what are the best ways to use podcasts to educate students. Due to podcasts being a relatively new learning tool, Popova and Edirisingha wanted to discover the benefits to student learning and if there were any downsides to podcasts in the educational setting. 

They concluded that students do benefit from feedback assignments, student-generated content, and additional learning materials when combined with podcasts. Popova and Edirisingha emphasize that student performance rates depend on how the teacher records the content and the structure the instructor provided to their students. 

Podcasts also improve grade averages

An educational study took 50 percent of a college class and had them listen to podcasts. The other half sat through in-class lectures. Students who listened to the podcasts received a higher grade (C average) compared to the rest of their classmates on tests (D average). Researchers think the higher performance score could be the result of students growing up with technology. Podcasts give professors and teachers a way to test students on the material and assign engaging in-class activities. Classes that rely on podcasts instead of lectures incorporate creative methods to keep their students coming to class each day, such as quizzes and assignments about the podcast, see higher levels of student comprehension. 

Educational Podcast - benefits for teachers

Educational Podcasting – Benefits to Educators

Podcasts are an Effective Teaching Method

Listening to someone speak about a subject is much more interesting than a less engaging textbook. According to a learning model, students learn mostly by doing (90 percent), retain 10 percent of what they read, and 20 percent of what they listen to. 

Therefore, podcasts are a valuable educational tool. This model is very general and is more of a wisdom guide than fact. However, according to a campus focused article titled “Experimental learning: learning by doing,” people do retain more information and comprehension by doing structured and guided hands-on activities. 

Why Should We Teach With Podcasts

It is important to note, however, that not all people learn most effectively by doing. Students will retain information more if they partake in in-class activities and listen to podcasts for homework, according to the study mentioned above by Popova and Edirisingha. This is just one example that provides a strong structured learning environment that will encourage student attendance.

Podcasts are Inexpensive and Easy to Create

Podcasts are inexpensive tools that educators may create and use to further their students understanding of the material they teach. Microphones are found on phones, computers, and other smaller devices, making it easy for an educator to record their voice from practically anywhere in the world. 

Professors at colleges or universities that may need to take a sick day can use educational podcasts to teach their students at their home. Additionally, podcasts that are assigned as homework can free up class time for the instructor to teach students material using assignments. 

Podcasts are More Effective in Teaching than other Online Tools

It is easier for educators to create podcasts for their students to retain information compared to writing long posts. Writing original content is much more time consuming, not to mention more difficult than creating a recording. 

It takes, on average less time to read than it does to write. Educators can use podcasts to lessen the amount of time it takes compared to written content for their students by recording podcasts to post. 

Using podcasts during classtime can bring in a unique teaching component. Students can hear from other experts that they might not otherwise have heard of, and it is a very technologically savvy way for educators to tech-up their classroom. Different points of views from a wide range of individuals can provide valuable perspectives to students. 

There Are Many Tools Simplifying Creation of Podcasts

All that is required to produce a podcast is a microphone, a computer or phone, editing software, and a platform to publish it on so students can download the content later. Plenty of podcasters choose to use headphones to aid them in creating high-quality content. 

Video podcasting can be used as well if educators wish to include the lecture slides or demonstrative videos to their podcast, providing a visual. However, this can be complicated for those who have never used video editing software before or are less familiar with video editing software.

Educational podcasts are relatively easy and cheap to produce. Video editing software may be required if the educator wants to add visual aids to their podcast, but if the educator decides to stick with just audio, it is free. 

Plenty of colleges and universities have a unique platform, such as Canvas or Moodle, that allow educators to upload teaching content for classes. Podcasts can be uploaded to these platforms. 

Educational Podcast - structure

Educational Podcast Structure

Below is an excellent basic structure you can use to start planning your podcast.

Fundamentals of a good educational podcast

  • Length – Educators who choose to create podcasts for their students to further their learning skills should attempt to aim for a podcast length of about 30 to 40 minutes to engage their student audience. 
  • Introduction – A catchy introduction will show professionalism and add to the engagement of the content.

Beginning of an educational episode

  • Back-sell element in education – Educators should also have a section at the beginning of the podcast to help students remember what’s been mentioned in previous podcasts to help students build on the material learned. This refresher will make sure that students will retain the information in the current episode, and build on it later on. 
  • Engagement – To engage the student more, educators should ask questions at the beginning of the podcast for students to focus on while listening to the podcast, assisting them in active listening. 
  • Goal setting – Providing students with learning objectives at the beginning of podcasts and learning goals can assist them in learning the material from the recordings. Learning goals and questions have a very similar effect on student engagement. These questions and objectives should be answered by the end of the podcast to conclude the recording.

The main section of an educational podcast

  • In the middle section of the podcast, educators should expand on the material that they asked questions about at the beginning of the podcast. 
  • Promotion of past episodes to encourage learning – Mentioning at most 5 other previous podcasts can give students sources to check out after they listened to the podcast. By providing sources, students can make topic connections that deepen student understanding of the material. 

Closing of an educational podcast

  • Shortly tease future episode – Before concluding the podcast, it is crucial to add an element to the content to bring listeners anticipating the next episode. Cliffhangers are a favorite storytelling method to bring readers back to the series to find out what happens next. Educators can use cliffhangers in podcasts to excite their audience for the next podcast episode. To do this, educators can briefly hint at the next episode during the last minute or so of the current podcast. The idea of the cliffhanger is to connect all the podcasts, creating a larger story or a bigger picture.

The most important rule when creating an educational podcast structure is that the educator should choose a structure that will make them sound right. The structure mentioned above is a great place to start and get some ideas, but ultimately it is the educator’s structure, and the host should do what they think will make them sound best. 

If you are looking for more resources and want to explore this topic, check:

Educational Podcast - qualities of a good speaker

Qualities of a Good Educational Podcasting Host

1. Building Engagement

Engaging an audience is one of the most challenging parts of podcasting, and is certainly much easier said than done. 

Plenty of college students feel like they have to take a class for a degree or graduation requirement, and may not be as interested in the content as you had hoped. Educators must remember, however, that it is how the podcast is created and presented that makes a podcast useful, not the listeners themselves.

The podcast itself is an excellent tool for students that assists them in retaining the material. However, it is still important to engage the class on the podcast. 

2. Passion and love for his subject

Passion and knowledge of the topic can inspire students to want to learn more. 

To engage the class, educators must have a passion and show it in their tone of voice for the subject that they are teaching. An educational tone of voice is key. 

Educational voices should be steady and speak with certainty. People are more likely to be inspired and listen to someone who does not have a monotone voice and is very passionate about the subject they teach. To avoid being monotonous, vary the speed of speaking and work on your words per minute podcasting speed.

Students enjoy listening to professors who are passionate about the subject they are teaching. 

3. Focus on Clarity of Message

Naturally, focusing on getting the message across to the audience is also an essential part of podcasting. Message clarity is critical for listeners to understand the content. 

The basic structure presented in this article recommends providing questions at the beginning of the podcast to engage the audience. To add to that idea, these questions or goals should be related to the overall message of the podcast. 

By answering these questions, the educator can produce content that has extreme clarity related to the main message. That means even if the educator is not the world’s best speaker, the educator can still manage to get the message across clearly to the audience at the end of the recording. 

However, it is also important that the educator focuses a lot on, not just the overall message, but every individual message that comes across in every single sentence of the podcast. This may seem like a lot of work, but it mainly comes down to one thing, word choice

In other words, it is important to choose words in podcasts carefully. Audiences can be easily lost, especially without visual aids. Message clarity is imperative throughout the overall podcast because focusing on sentence clarity can add to the quality of the podcast. 

One technique is creating a script to read off during recording. Because the educator’s audience cannot see them, the audience will have no clue that the educator is reading off of something that they wrote to assist them in conveying message clarity. 

Educational Podcast - Improve quality

Quality in Educational Podcasting 

Educators have to put special effort into making sure their podcast is of the highest quality. The truth is that your podcast is competing with all the online audio out there, including other podcasts. To make sure students will stick with your show work on providing the best possible quality with those easy 3 tips:

  • Right recording conditions – make sure you find the right place and time to record. Background noises can be really disturbing when listening to podcasts, and they make the editing process much more difficult. If you don’t have a designated silent podcasting room use those tips to record podcasts in a poor sounding room.
  • Vocals on a podcast – it is one thing to speak in front of a class, and another to record your voice to be heard for years on a podcast. To make sure you sound best, you need to take care of your voice before a recording session. To learn how to improve your podcasting vocals, review those vocal tips for podcasters.
  • Audio quality ensured by good podcasting gear – while you can quickly hook up an inexpensive USB mic, it is better to purchase a high-quality microphone that, in the end, will help you sound better and more professionally. To make sure that you are buying only the best stuff, review our podcasting gear guide.

In Conclusion

Podcasts are a valuable tool for both students and educators and assist in providing a deeper understanding of the material. 

Classes that use podcasts can free up class time and assign activities that help students in active, hands-on learning, or assign quizzes to encourage student attendance and hone listening skills. Overall, podcasts are not a negative contribution to classes, but a very convenient tool for professors and students alike. 

Educators who are passionate about their subject, who focus mainly on message clarity and follow a well-crafted structure, will have a much more engaging podcast than educators who choose to do the opposite with their recording. Podcasts will benefit learners who retain more by listening, visualizing, and learning by doing.

Quality of educational podcasts must be maintained to make sure students keep listening and won’t be lured by other high-quality audio sources.

About the Author

Chris Land

I'm the owner and creator of, the site dedicated to providing actionable solutions for podcast creators. My goal is helping people to develop their podcasts into effective marketing and sales tools.

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