What is important for students?
One of the most important things for students is to make an impact in the real world.
University students are in a crucial stage of the development of their identity. They feel the need to explore who they are and what value can they bring to the world.
As an Educational institution, we are the platform they choose to explore who they are on a personal and professional level.
Students want to see how their work and efforts have an impact on the world. Hence, everything we do in the classroom, from learning experiences to assessment methods, counts in their development journey.
With this in mind, we can set the foundations of every didactic method I applied to my learning experiences.
Make it Count.
As a student, the most frustrating thing I experienced was studying a lot for a subject, submitting a report and feeling it would be forever forgotten after its assessment.
In this example, I will share with you how to transform a report assessment method into a podcast assessment.
In the minor "International Project Management & Stakeholder Engagement", sustainability and corporate social responsibility are embedded in every learning experience they take. Students have a number of sessions, from masterclasses to training and role-plays, where they explore these subjects in different contexts of project management and public affairs.
Whilst in the past students were asked to research topical issues of their choice and write a report discussing their findings, students felt this was just another report they were writing. There was no additional challenge. There was no contribution outside the perimeter of the classroom. No impact in the real world.
Challenge students to work together, research a topical issue, and explore it through a podcast episode, was an absolute game-changer for everyone.
International Think Tank
For International Think Tank, students are asked to cover a relevant and current topic.
The goal of this course is two-fold: provide information on the topics to an online audience and trigger a lively and critical debate with the students involved.
Why is this relevant?
In the past, information was transmitted through one-way communication channels like the television or the newspapers. The present works very differently, and information is shared in very different ways. Anyone can use it. Anyone can influence. That influence can have a large impact such as changing the results of elections, canceling people/companies/, moving large sums of money in the stocks, among others.
One of the current challenges of our society is how the information is managed and shared. Social media, discussion boards, instant messaging groups... those are only a part of it.
The goal of the students is to develop:
- a future-proof data-driven attitude,
- critical thinking,
- deeper insights into sustainability,
- research skills in other regions,
- the ability to present research in a structured way,
- your capacity for building solid arguments and responding in the same line,
- showcase and promote data-driven research combating fake news,
- display all the above in an offline but also online environment.
- Think about how many big events (good or bad) came out from platforms like Reddit (eg: the Gamestop stock situation), 4chan (pizzagate, QAnon), Facebook (Cambridge-Analytica), etc.
The students focus is to present their research in a podcast episode format (10-15 minutes) and manage a healthy and productive discussion with their peers, raising awareness on crucial topics in the different regions of the world. All this, through a discussion board, a communication channel similar to Reddit.
Students must present a standpoint (claim) while considering opposing views (rebuttal). Explain and argue (grounds, warrant, backing) a viewpoint on the chosen topical issue by apportioning the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
Podcasting: a game changer.
Recording a podcast (and publishing it) has an impact in the real world.
Our goal is to raise awareness among regular people. People who tune into their streaming services and want to learn more about what is happening in the world. A podcast amplifies their reach to a mainstream level, motivating students to work on a product that can impact, potentially, millions of people.
What do you need to organize a podcast as an assessment method?
- Decide which experiences (lectures, webinars, training, etc.) will provide a solid knowledge base for your students.
- Introduce students to ' story-telling ', ' how to start a speech ' and " how to tell stories with data " . You can either post these videos or organize workshops yourselves. Our fantastic Multimedia Support Team offer a great workshop on how to record a podcast.
- Let students form their groups of 4 . Let students form their own groups. You can set some rules to ensure diversity (eg: two different nationalities minimum per group, different sex and/or genders, etc.).
- Decide how the podcast will be recorded :
- Avans Multimedia: Students can record the podcast using our studios.
- Hybrid: Students can record via Teams, extract the audio and edit it. Especially useful in case some students cannot attend.
- Share the grading rubric with students in advance. Set clear expectations on what is expected. An example of a grading rubric follows this paragraph.
- Set expectations: only high-quality podcasts are published and go live. I recommend a minimum of 7.5.
- Define a timeline for recording and set a deadline for submission.
- Final submission file : an mp3 file.
- Publish the podcasts, for free, on anchor.fm.
- Extra : I like to foster discussion out of these podcasts. Each group must post their podcast in the forum on Brightspace their podcast, with a short introduction to the subject and three questions where they invite and challenge their peers to take the subject to the extra mile. Students use the Toulmin method to further elaborate their arguments. Students start raising awareness within the boundaries of the classroom, fostering healthy and complex discussions.
Example: International Think Tank
Link to International Think Tank Season 1 on Spotify .
After evaluating several grading rubrics used by different higher education institutions, I worked with a document provided by the University of Missouri to establish the foundations of my grading rurbic.
Reception by students
Students loved the experience.
International Project Management & Stakeholder Engagement is a minor with a large number of exchange, double degree and incoming students who are not familiar with Avans or our core programmes. They have all a different background, a different conception of Education and, despite all these differences, they found joy on this learning experience.
It was unexpected, new, fresh, a way of making their work count in such a way that they are growing, meeting new people, challenging themselves and having a real impact in the world with the product of their work.
It felt organic and real.
My take on this multi-vitaminic assessment format
Students are able to explore, analyse and create value on a large range of subjects using podcasts as assessment method. A podcast can be the medium, not only to test specific program learning objectives but also to develop competencies around communication and personal and professional development.
When working in teams, students demonstrate the ability to collaborate effectively with different stakeholders in different cultural, organisational and political landscapes to contribute to achieving agreed goals. They learn how to respond appropriately to unfamiliar or unexpectedly changing business environments. Also, helps them formulate their own's personal position concerning ethical and social responsibility in a professional environment. During the process, they learn how to mitigate the pitfalls of cultural differences in business and social contexts, displaying a willingess to work with people from other countries with different cultural backgrounds. Due to being a voice-only assignment, they further develop their ability to discern between verbal and non-verbal communication and how to better use these tools depending on the situations they are in.
One last recommendation
Podcasts shall be used as a unique experience. The principle remains as at the beginning of this article: create assessment methods that help add value to the real world. If a podcast is used several times within a programme, students will lose interest.
Continue seeking alternative assessment methods that result in fresh, attractive and impactful to students and share them with the community. Learning from each other will enable us to create a richer and more diverse experiences for our students.
About the teacher
José Manuel Cotilla Conceição is a Doctor in Education passionate for developing innovative resources for Education using ICT. Recently, he has published a research book exploring teachers beliefs about the use of ICT in foreign language courses through different countries.
Feel free to contact José about this case study via Teams or email.