Professor Sarah Hodges utilised podcasting as an assessment tool for a year-long core History module, called ‘Making of the Modern World’. Students were tasked with creating a 15-minute podcast on topics related to representations of race and slavery online, in museums and in literature. They were also expected to provide a bibliography for their podcasts, which encouraged the students to think about how their podcast topics related to the module as a whole and made their work easier to assess. The podcast assessment was the third of four assessments on this module, representing 40% of the students’ overall mark.
The aims of the podcast assessment were to encourage students to think about how to communicate complex ideas clearly in an accessible and engaging style and format, and sharpen their skills in reaching audiences that lie beyond the world of formal scholarship, while still using the tools of a degree-level historian. It also helped students to understand the opportunities and challenges of the podcast format for historians, especially those seeking to engage with contemporary issues.
- Students picked from 3 potential podcast topics on the module’s Moodle page and agreed this with their tutor.
- Students were provided with clear marking criteria and potential research questions, as well as a PowerPoint resource on creating a podcast project and links to similar Arts Faculty resources. Students had the freedom to use the audio-editing software of their choice.
- Professor Hodges worked with Academic Technology in advance of the deadline to ensure that Tabula was able to accept the relevant file formats.
- Students produced their podcasts over the Easter break and submitted them as MP4 or WAV files on Tabula, along with their bibliographies as word documents.
I found the work to be strong, consistently stronger than the written work…students are better at producing clear messages when they are talking or can hear it. A podcast is a bit more forgiving…there’s more scope to explore and not be quite as linear, which I think suited students.
I think one thing I like about online learning or assessments is more creativity…I kind of liked [creating a podcast] compared to a normal essay, just because sometimes with normal essays, it's hard to put forward your ideas. You could know the stuff but because essays are so constrictive, it's hard to show you know stuff. So [podcasting] was nice in a way that it tested you, but it tested your knowledge in a nicer way.