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Inclusive Audio Learning with Podcasters Kate and Dan

Mon Aug 1, 2022 at 07:30 AM

A few months ago, my friends over at e-Learning and Instructional Support launched the podcast Inclusive & Online with Kate and Dan. I admired how they went from taking a self-paced course on podcasting for education to making the podcast a reality, so I wanted to gather their tips for faculty who may want to leverage audio content for learning. After I reached out to them, we decided to do a “crossover” of sorts, so they invited me on the podcast to talk about the relationship between audio and inclusive online learning. This teaching tip provides some highlights from the episode. Listen to the episode.

Why the Focus on Audio?

In the spirit of their podcast, Kate and Dan asked the smart question of how audio learning fits into inclusive teaching. In writing the book Mobile-Mindful Teaching and Learning, I dove into how audio learning options increases access for all students, particularly those who are often marginalized in higher education.

Audio allows us to access learning more often.

Audio books and podcasts allow people to learn while on the go, whether during a commute, waiting in line, or doing simple tasks. OU nursing instructor Dr. Lynda Poly-Droulard’s students appreciate her providing students an audio file option to her narrated slides, which students frequently listen to during commutes. Audio can be powerful for filling in the gaps between more focused, active learning activities. 

Audio provides an additional mode of expression, for teacher and learner.

Higher education learning relies heavily on written text, from hefty textbooks to lengthy papers. There are many good reasons to share and express ideas in writing, but we may over-rely on writing where other modes of expression are also valid, sometimes preferable. In Temi Okun’s (2021) white supremacist framework, one characteristic is “worship of the written word,” or valuing ideas expressed in writing to the point of de-valuing knowledged shared through oral traditions among other visual and tactile modes of expression. Allowing students to express ideas in an audio format among other options, whether orally in person or through a recording, gives students the agency to engage in more authentic learning.

Tips for Using and Creating Audio Content

Supplement your course with existing audio content.

Hosts of two podcasts on teaching in higher ed recommend exploring existing audio content for learning before creating your own (Stachowiak, 2021). Since so much audio content exists already, using this content not only saves you the labor of creating new content, but also helps you evaluate the quality of existing content. In her recent conference presentation, OU English instructor Dr. Rachel Smydra (2022) shared how she had her students analyze rhetorical structures in the popular podcast Serial, season 1. If you continually notice what is lacking that you would like to offer students, you may be able to start creating your own audio content.

Share your voice with students.

If you are tired of emails and Announcement forum posts and suspect students feel the same, send them an audio message. As OU writing and rhetoric professor Dr. Lori Ostergaard reported in her recent CETL teaching grant work, asynchronous online courses often put so much expression into written text. To increase community in her asynchronous online course, she provided audio feedback to student work and audio responses to discussion forums. While videos can be great for demonstrations and engagement, maybe some content can simply be expressed in audio. Adding audio is a way of increasing teacher presence and opening up modes of expression.

Give students the option to express learning via audio.

Evaluate the learning outcomes for an activity that usually requires writing and consider the value of allowing students the choice to express their ideas via audio. As I have found in my teaching, you will likely see some students’ thoughts come alive when they are free to explain an idea orally rather than in writing alone. Sometimes it’s as simple as telling students they can also use the multimedia button in a Moodle forum or assignment

Keep it accessible with transcripts. 

While there is so much audio content available, not all of them include text transcripts. Like all digital accessibility practices, text transcripts are essential to those who can’t hear or access audio content, but are beneficial to all when a student needs to search for keywords or read. Choose audio that has transcripts. When recording your own audio, is a favorite tool for easy transcription, but you can also rely on popular video recording services like Zoom and YuJa. You may even find that you like starting with a script if you want your audio content to be polished and concise. If you are new to such practices and technologies, e-LIS instructional designers can help.

If you want to start recording your own content…

Keep an eye out for opportunities to learn about creating educational audio content. For the content to be learning-focused, plan for ways to actively engage students and connect content to learning, just as you would with creating any other instructional content. Before creating the Inclusive & Online Podcast, Kate and Dan took a self-paced course on podcasts for teaching and learning with the Online Learning Consortium. (OU folks, e-LIS may offer some passes to take courses like this.) Audio course creator Yehoshua Zlotogorski (2020) shared how to write an audio course, paying attention to structure, cues, and strategic repetition.

Start with a simple goal to test the waters, such as recording your interview with a colleague you would normally invite as a class guest speaker. You can create the audio through Zoom, YouTube, YuJa and others, which will produce a transcript. Audacity is a free, open-source audio recording and editing program that is fairly easy for you and students to use, but use a program like to produce the transcript.

If you find this process rewarding and worth continuing, you might start recording a lecture or two. Once you know you will be producing audio content continuously, you may want to consider upgrading to a microphone (Dan recommends a USB condenser mic). As your library of audio content grows, you may find yourself ready to officially create a podcast, which means you regularly publish audio content, even if it’s every other month or so. Kate and Dan use for hosting, which offers a $5 per month education license.

Don’t go it alone.

If you are interested in creating audio but find the prospect overwhelming, plan for who you can take along with you. 

  • Partner with a colleague. Kate and Dan decided to team up to create a podcast that publishes monthly, which is key to making the work manageable and rewarding. Many great podcasts include two hosts who can play off of one another and share the work of maintaining a podcast. Consider partnering with a colleague or collaborator, perhaps as another way to disseminate research and teaching ideas.
  • Work with your ed tech experts. Start by inquiring with instructional designers, who may not have direct experience with audio content, but are likely well equipped to do some digging and exploration with you. OU faculty can consult with instructional designers, and you may even want to meet with the Student Technology Center to see what equipment and support they can offer students interested in audio content. 


There are many good reasons to integrate and create audio content for a course, but the reasons have to make sense for you, your students, and your course. As I encourage in Mobile-Mindful Teaching and Learning, start with self. Cultivate your own intentional learning around topics related to your course or discipline, and see what happens.

References and Resources 

This teaching tip is based on the podcast episode. “Accessible Audio Content with Christina Moore,” Inclusive & Online with Kate and Dan Podcast, produced by Kate Huttenlocher and Dan Arnold. Published July 22, 2022.

Stachowiak, B. (Host). (2021, September 30). How to use podcasts in teaching (No. 381). [Audio podcast episode]. In Teaching in Higher Ed.

Kane, J. (2020 November). Using Podcasts to Increase Student Engagement. Video created for a virtual poster presentation at OLC Accelerate Conference. 

Okun, T. (2021). White Supremacy Culture Characteristics. White Supremacy Culture.

Smydra, R. V. (2022 April). Using podcasts to facilitate learning and skill application in online courses. ITLC Lilly Online Conference.

Stachowiak, B. (Host). (2021, September 30). How to use podcasts in teaching (No. 381). [Audio podcast episode]. In Teaching in Higher Ed.

Student Podcasts (34 minutes). (2022, June). Tea for Teaching Podcast. Shared in the show notes: Podcast instructions and documents used in introductory economics class (the materials that John shared with Megan)

Zlotogorski, Y. (2020, October 30). How to write an audio course [Weblog post]. Alpe Audio Blog. transcription

View the OLC workshop schedule. OU Faculty: The workshops that are available at no cost are those that have a cost of $270 non-member/$170 member each. OLC's Certificate programs, Mastery series and workshops that cost more than $270 are not included in this offer. OU faculty interested in registering for a workshop can complete the OLC workshop registration form.

CETL Teaching Collection Resources

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Many thanks to Kate and Dan!

Kate Huttenlocher is the Assistant Manager of Support Services in the e-Learning and Instructional Support office. Kate is also a graduate from Oakland’s Master of Arts in Counseling program. When not working, Kate can be found hanging out with her menagerie of pets or going on outdoor adventures.  

Dan Arnold is the Manager of Support Services for OU’s e-Learning & Instructional Support office. He is an alum of OU’s School of Education and Human Services, having earned both a master’s in Training & Development and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership. In his personal life, he’s really quite delightful and is often found making dad jokes or involuntarily napping in his favorite chair.

About the Author

Written by Christina Moore, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Oakland University. Others may share and adapt under Creative Commons License CC BY-NCView all CETL Weekly Teaching Tips. Follow these and more on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.