By: Jone Tiffany and Sue Forneris
Podcasts are all the rage. A podcast is an audio file that is available on the internet for listening via any compatible device such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer (Stiffler, Stoten, & Cule, 2011). Millennials have listened to podcasts for years. With members of generation Z, they seem always to have “pods” in their ears, listening to all sorts of things just about anywhere –when they exercise, when they walk from place to place, when they take lunch breaks. The popularity of podcasts has begun to catch on with the older, baby boom generation to the extent that that today, approximately 24 percent of people in the US listen to podcasts, a number that has increased annually by 10 to 20 percent (https://www.podcastinsights.com/podcast-statistics/).
From documentaries to current events to education, podcasts are a popular way to learn, refresh, and keep up. They could become the greatest “library of information” in the history of the US.
Another trend of note is that today, fewer US students are enrolling in universities while high school graduation rates are higher than they were five years ago (https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/01/where-are-all-the-high-school-grads-going/423285/). This leads to an interesting question: Are people choosing to learn in other ways besides attending universities? Perhaps the answer has to do with the podcast trend. After all, by the time a textbook is written, much of the information can already be out of date, while podcasts are constantly updated, offering the latest information across a wide variety of topics.
So, why listen to podcasts?
- Most podcasts are centered in the oral tradition of storytelling or are conversation driven through the use of voice. No video is required – giving tired eyes a much-needed rest.
- Podcasts are very mobile – they are built to be an on-demand type of technology. One does not have to attend a lecture, log online on a computer, or be present in a particular space. Seventy percent of podcast participants access these via their smartphones, and 22 percent listen while driving. Podcasts allow people to listen while they are doing other tasks.
- Podcasts are cheap and easy to make. Most are free to listen to.
- Podcasts can inspire by the sharing of new insights and ideas. For example, check out the podcasts available through the NPR TED Radio Hour.
- Podcasts are a time-efficient form of communication.
- Podcasts can make information personal. In fact, nurse faculty use them to provide personalized information to their students. Whether about a specific topic, or possibly a patient case study, podcasts are story-based audio casts.
Several studies have shown that nursing students are satisfied with the use of podcasts for learning in nursing education (Burke & Cody, 2014; Duffy, 2013; Hargett, 2018; Kardong-Edgren & Emerson, 2010). Although most studies measure satisfaction and self-reported learning, the existing body of literature shows promise for the use of podcasting for nursing education, with a need for robust studies about their use.
Think about the possibilities for nursing education. What if a nursing faculty member taped short chunks of prep content to enhance salience for learning or even reusable learning items? What if students could listen to mini lectures with embedded questions and/or time for reflection? What if students made podcasts for reviewing certain topics and shared them with others? Podcasts are a great adjunct to traditional methods of teaching and learning in nursing education. Now is the time for nurse educators to dig in and create useful podcasts to enhance all levels of nursing education.
More Information About Podcasts
You can always record a simple podcast on your smartphone or tablet by just using the record feature and saving it as an Mp3 file. But many excellent podcast apps are available. One that is free and easy to use – in fact, one of the easiest available – can be found at https://anchor.fm. The site contains information on mobile apps for both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
Here are some additional apps/websites to help you create or listen to podcasts
- Stitcher Radio (iOS, Android, Desktop)
- Overcast (for iOS only)
- Pocket Casts at http://www.shiftyjelly.com/pocketcasts (for iOS or Android)
- 10 Best Podcast Apps for Android
Here are a few nursing-related podcast sites available to download for free:
Hargett, J. (2018). Podcasting in nursing education: Using commercially prepared podcasts to spark learning. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 29, 55-57.
Kardong-Edgren, S., & Emerson, R. (2010). Student adoption and perception of lecture podcasts in undergraduate bachelor of science in nursing courses. Journal of Nursing Education, 49(7).
Stiffler, D., Stoten, S., & Culle, D. (2011). Podcasting as an instructional supplement to online learning: A pilot study. CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing, 29(3), 144-148.