May 22nd 2020

Using podcasts as an innovative learning tool in online classes

First experiences from a change management course


This summer term, we tested a new tool that allows us to use podcasts in our online classes. Maria Rabl, head of studies, integrated the podcast tool “Audvice” in the course “Change Management” in our Master program “Corporate Governance & Finance Online”. In this interview, she talks about her experiences and the benefits of using podcasts in class.

How did you come up with the idea of using podcasts in class?

Maria Rabl: I’m constantly looking for formats that increase student interaction in class. When I participated in a workshop organized by the Austrian government where university representatives could exchange ideas with EdTech start-ups I got to know Audvice, an Austrian start-up that provides an app for podcasts in educational settings.

Could you elaborate on how exactly you have integrated the podcasts in your online classroom?

Maria Rabl: When talking about using podcasts in class, most people think of a lecturer who provides his or her lectures as audio recordings. While this certainly is a valuable approach as well, I wanted my students not only to listen to podcasts but also to become active and create their own podcasts. So one of the course assignments was to record a 6-minute podcast about a change management question or change management aspect. Through this whole process of preparing a topic, structuring the content, rehearsing, and recording the presentation, the students end up amplifying their learning. In a second assignment, the students had to listen to three of their peers’ podcasts and assess them. Thus, the students learned about three more topics and had to evaluate these podcasts critically regarding content and delivery. More than that, by the end of the course, we had a library full of podcasts on change management topics, which students can use when they have to learn for their final exams.

You used the podcast tool Audvice. How did that work?

Maria Rabl: There are a lot of tools and platforms for podcast. I like about Audvice, that it focuses specifically on the use of podcasts for learning purposes. Audvice makes it very easy for lecturers and students to record their audio and share the recordings with the whole class. In my case, the students simply downloaded the app and got access to our class’ podcast channel with their login details. In case students needed help, Audvice also provided technical support. Therefore, from a technical point of view, there was not much to worry about.

From your perspective, what were the benefits of working with podcasts in your class?

Maria Rabl: In our online study programs, the vast majority of students work and study simultaneously, thus managing the workloads from both worlds can be quite a challenge. Podcasts give our students the opportunity to learn at any time and wherever it suits them best – whether they are driving to work or doing housework.

However, the experience from my class shows that listening is not the only way to use podcasts – probably you learn even more by recording yourself. Letting students create their own podcasts is also a great opportunity for student engagement as it allows students to bring in their experiences and voices quite literally.

In addition, podcasts help instructors to address different student needs and learning styles. Usually, we offer many materials for visual learners. Through podcasts, I can specifically address auditory learners.

Which feedback did you get from your students?

Maria Rabl: The general reaction was positive and curious. Most of them used podcasts for learning the first time. They emphasized how convenient and easy it was to consume podcasts. Many students also mentioned that adding this auditory aspect enhanced their learning experience. Still, some students prefer visual learning. For them, providing supporting materials like transcripts would be helpful.

I also received positive feedback regarding the students’ own podcast creation. They thought it was a fun activity and a welcome change from the usual assignments. They also thought it was a good way to practice their presentation skills (without standing in front of people). Most of the students said that they learned a lot about the topic while preparing and recording the podcast.

Are you planning to use podcasts in class again?

Maria Rabl: Yes, definitely. We will use podcasts already in several courses in the upcoming winter semester – not only in our Master but also Bachelor programs.