Turning to Podcasting as a Teaching Tool During the Pandemic

Philip Auslander and Melissa Foulger have turned to podcasting as a teaching tool.

Posted September 9, 2020

When the Georgia Institute of Technology moved to remote learning during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, faculty members and students all over campus searched for new forms of instruction and collaboration. 

For Philip Auslander, professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC), the challenge had the extra layer of trying to teach performance classes. His answer? Podcasting. 

“I used podcasts to replace lectures in both the classes I was teaching, Introduction to Performance Studies and Film Acting,” Auslander said. “In the performance class, I used audio podcasts to discuss readings. I posted each podcast on a Monday, then had a synchronous session on Thursday of the same week to discuss the readings, and other materials. We did the same thing in the acting course, except that the podcasts were on video and they were conversations between Melissa Foulger and myself about the course materials on the history and theories of acting.” 

Foulger, LMC Senior Academic Professional, co-teaches the acting class with Auslander. He found that the podcast format, especially for the Performance Studies class, took a lot of extra work compared to regular in person classes.  

“As a professional actor and teacher of performance, my podcasts had to sound as good as I could make them under the circumstances, so I had to script them, record multiple takes, then edit and enhance the sound quality.” 

The extra work seemed to pay off. Podcasts offered more flexibility to students and was a format they were familiar with. 

“I found that the balance of asynchronous podcasts and synchronous discussion sessions worked quite well. I had the impression that the students liked it, too,” Auslander said. 

Daisha White, a 5th-year computer science student from Atlanta, said she found the audio-only  podcast format very effective. 

“It was a nice way to just listen to Professor Auslander’s thoughts concerning our class readings. The podcasts also felt very fresh considering all the video/livestream class styles other professors were doing. It gave me a bit of a break from the computer screen and engaged me in a different way,” White said. 

Despite the successful experiment in podcasting, Auslander decided to return to live video for his fall semester classes, which he is teaching remotely. He says that will free up time he would have spent preparing the podcast. 

“I’m looking forward to using that time to engage with my students,” said Auslander, whose upcoming book, In Concert: Performing Musical Persona, examines the dynamics of live performance. 

In the book, he argues that live music audiences are as much responsible for a performer’s  persona as the artist themselves. 

“Musical performances are something performers and audiences make together, not something musicians make for audiences,” he said. 

The book is scheduled to be published in 2021. 

The School of Literature, Media, and Communication is a unit of Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts

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Michael Pearson