13 January 2014

Podcasts in the Classroom for Relevant, Subject-Specific Content

If you only use your smartphone or tablet for playing games, taking pictures, social media, listening to music, or ::gasp:: communicating, you're missing out on great opportunities to immerse yourself in easily-digestible academic content that will probably make you smarter (and more interesting) :)

If you've ever listened to an audiobook, you understand how convenient podcasts can be in "reading" while you perform other tasks, like driving. My wife and I got hooked on Freakonomics one road trip when I checked out the authors' second audio book, Super Freakonomics, from our local library.

The two Freakonomics books, documentary film and the companion blog and podcast is not only about economics. While co-author Steven D Levitt of the University of Chicago IS an accomplished economist, I'd more likely describe Freakonomics as an exploration in the use of data and statistical methodology to study or improve anything.

The consequence of the wide-range of subjects addressed in the Freakonomics podcasts is that you can quite easily find one that piques your particular niche of interest. Here's a list of topics just from the last few months:

Are We Ready to Legalize Marijuana?
What is the Best Exercise?
The Pope's Recent Critique on Capitalism
Are Gay Men Really Rich?
Fighting Poverty with Actual Evidence
For NBA Hopefuls, Zip Code Matters
Who Runs the Internet?

They've also done work on the NFL and sumo-wrestling. :)
But Freakonomics is just the tip of the iceberg! Here's a list of 9 more educational podcasts to share with your students for reflection, introduction, or enrichment

TEDTalks Audio - TED conferences are places to share recent research or discoveries in short, energetic presentations, usually shorter than 20 minutes.
Radiolab - Natural Sciences - Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.
CNN Student News
GrammarGirl - Quick and Dirty Tips
Coffee Break Spanish and French
The Math Dude
60 Second Civics
Stuff You Missed in History Class

I'll be using a Freakonomics podcast that I heard over Thanksgiving Break with my AP Stats class to introduce their capstone project for the semester- developing a statistical inference experiment to answer any question they want. I'm hoping by broadening their statistical exposure beyond politics and sports will help them be more creative in their experiment-dreaming.

The students will be assigned the Poverty podcast linked above and given several question prompts to respond to - about half of which are about the actual content of the podcast and half more about reflecting on possible topics for the capstone project in May.

Here's a link to the assignment.
"The Relevance of Statistical Work"

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Thanks for sharing!