The Audacity to Explore: Using Critical Inquiry to Examine Podcasts as a Learning Event

Team 1: Terra Aartsen, Lisa Gedak, Owen Lloyd, Kathy Moore, Leigha Nevay

As part of LRNT526, Inquiry into Contemporary Issues in Learning Technology, we were asked to participate in a learning event using a technology of our choosing.  Our group decided it would be beneficial to select a learning technology that was free to users and available through most devices (e.g., laptop, tablet, smartphone) to ensure broad accessibility.  We quickly agreed on podcasts since each team member was familiar with the podcast technology, having listened to some type of podcast previously.  After reviewing several lists of podcast publishers, we chose the University of Oxford’s podcasts as we were interested in an academic podcast from a recognized and respected institution. We selected the Futuremakers podcast as it seemed to fit nicely with the interests of the team members.

Podcasting is aggressively entering mainstream markets with more competitors and information resources for listeners (Pratt, 2019).  One of the great advantages of podcasting is the opportunities this technological medium provides; listeners have the opportunity to learn on the go, research topics, receive inspiration, or simply just stay up to date with current events (Berlanger, 2005; Fang, 2019; Hew, 2009; McLoughlin & Lee, 2007).

In addition to general research into podcasting as a medium, our group researched the pedagogy of podcasts and the impact of this technology on learning (Berlanger, 2005; Edirisingha & Hew, 2009; Meyer & Gordon, 2014; Salmon, 2007).  Our initial research revealed many positive accounts of podcasts as a learning tool, with Chester et al. (2011) reporting that “students generally perceive podcasts to have enhanced their learning, and consider the recordings as more crucial to the learning experience than attending lectures” (p. 236).  Further, podcasts can offer learners an alternative to classroom lecture attendance (Chester, et al., 2011; Brookes, 2010; Parson, Reddy, Wood, & Senior, 2009), as well as offering teachers the option of using primer podcasts as a pre-lecture learning tool (Goldman, 2018).

As a result of this initial research, the members of our team have decided to pursue the following lines of inquiry in our individual projects:

  • Terra will explore the use of primer podcasts to enhance classroom learning;
  • Owen will investigate podcasting’s suitability to improve access to learning by identifying how it reduces the impact of learning barriers like low bandwidth, limited access to new hardware technology, and limited access to traditional learning spaces;
  • Kathy will explore the use of podcasts for training purposes; specifically to train volunteers. This will also include looking at the social equity of podcasts given the requirement of a device should the learner wish to listen remotely;
  • Lisa will investigate the effectiveness of podcasts in supporting learner variability through the lens of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework and guiding principles; and
  • Leigha will explore the abundance of podcast technology. Specifically understanding the impact of having too much information and what path to navigate ensuring a credible and reliable educational experience.

The learning event we chose to begin our inquiry-based learning is the Futuremakers podcast “Is AI good for our health?”.  Hosted by Peter Millican, the podcast explores the societal and ethical impacts of the use of  A.I. in healthcare, as well as the implications for the general public and their perception of what is a definitive diagnosis.  The structure of the podcast is conversational with the guests Paul Leeson, Alison Noble, and Jessica Morley.  Each person is well-qualified on the subject of Artificial Intelligence (AI), allowing for an educated conversation on the topic.

As our group selected podcasts primarily due to their accessibility, we decided that each team member would listen to the podcast in a different way to test the different learner experiences: Lisa would listen using Apple TV, Owen would listen using an iPod while on a run, Kathy would listen using a PC, Terra would listen on car radio streaming from an iPhone, and Leigha would listen on a smartphone.

After all group members had completed the learning event, we discussed our different experiences and the ease of accessing the podcast; all that was required was access to the internet, either to download the episode before listening or to stream it live.  This points to one limitation: podcasts could prove to have an accessibility issue for those with limited internet access. There was an instance where the episode stopped streaming through Apple TV and the team member was required to start from the beginning.  This type of interruption could cause listeners to simply stop listening to the episode or lecture, simply because they may not want to start from the beginning again. Our group also discussed the accessibility of podcasts to those with disabilities. Some podcasts provide captions so that individuals with a hearing impairment or a different disability can still enjoy the lecture, but this isn’t always available.

After discussing our individual experiences with each mode of delivery of the podcast, we moved to the impact of podcast technology on education.  This was our first step into our critical inquiry. Next, we will begin to explore our individual critical inquiries to analyze how this technology will work with our various topics of choice.


Bauder, D., & Ender, K. (2016). Using Multimedia Solutions for Accessing the Curriculum Through a UDL Lens. 1134–1139.

Berlanger, Y. (2005) Duke university iPod first year experience final evaluation

Brookes, M. (2010). An evaluation of the impact of formative feedback podcasts on the student learning experience. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education (Oxford Brookes University), 9(1), 53–64.

Chester, A., Buntine, A., Hammond, K., & Atkinson, L. (2011). Podcasting in Education: Student Attitudes, Behaviour and Self-Efficacy. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 14(2), 236–247.

Edirisingha, P., & Salmon, G. (2007). Pedagogical models for podcasts in higher education. figshare. Conference contribution.

Fang, W. (2019, December 24). Why Do People Listen to Podcasts in 2020? Retrieved from

Hew, K. F. (2009). Use of audio podcast in K-12 and higher education: A review of research topics and methodologies. Educational Technology Research and Development, 57(3), 333-357.

McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. (2007). Listen and learn: A systematic review of the evidence that podcasting supports learning in higher education. In C. Montgomerie & J. Seale (Eds.), Proceedings of World Use of audio podcast in K-12 and higher education 355 123 Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2007 (pp. 1669–1677). Chesapeake, VA: AACE

Meyer, A., Rose, D.H., & Gordon, D. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and Practice. Wakefield, MA: CAST Professional Publishing.

Parson, V., Reddy, P., Wood, J., & Senior, C. (2009) Educating an iPod generation: undergraduate attitudes, experiences and understanding of vodcast and podcast use, Learning, Media and Technology, 34:3, 215-228, DOI: 10.1080/17439880903141497

Pratt, S. (2019, January 30). 13 Predictions for Podcasting in 2019. Retrieved from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *