The mini-podcast series for AST: openness from a social justice perspective

Image by Michi S from Pixabay

This blog post was written by Agnieszka Marciszewska as part of the final assignment for the module EDM122 at City, University of London


Podcasting has become popular for both amateurs and professional contexts and its research as well as practice in HE continues to grow. Its appeal in HE learning environment is the ability to disseminate knowledge asynchronously, working within the blended-learning approach which allows a degree of flexibility and freedom that in turn links to student motivation (Bolliger, Supanakorn and Boggs, 2010). There is evidence suggesting podcasts are effective in supporting students’ study skills development (Edirisingha and Salmon, 2007). Podcasting is also a tool to increase public impact of research and scholarship (Singer, 2019) and to facilitate HE transformation by enhancing open educational practice (Waldron, Covington and Palmer, 2023). As such, its potential needs to be considered in any team that attempts to support students’ academic skills via open pedagogy approaches. 

In my role in the Academic Skills Team, I predominantly produce student-facing materials. Last year I took on a project in which I designed, produced and recorded a podcast mini-series for my team. The project was based on a number of guest speakers contributing to the episodes I wrote, all of which dealt with students embracing their role at university in some way. My colleagues from City University generously donated their time and collaboration with them meant that current and prospective students would have some information about who’s who. This essay presents a brief review of literature on podcast pedagogy justifying my choices on this project and further presents my reflections on the notion of openness in this context using the five realms of openness by Hodgkinson-Williams (2014). I selected three episodes from the podcast to evidence my points.  

Literature review 

Podcasting has been extensively researched and promoted in HE for their educational content in a range of disciplines (Kao, 2008; Facer, Abdous and Camarena, 2009; Cho, Cosimini and Espinoza, 2017; Killean and Summerville, 2020; Kinkaid, Emard and Senanayake, 2020; Prata, Avelar and Martins, 2021; Kelly et al., 2022). It is also been effective as a tool to develop students’ listening skills (Harahap, 2020). Podcasting supports HE students in their learning as it engages active learning and critical thinking skills, especially for student-led podcasting (McLoughlin and Lee, 2007; Ferrer, Lorenzetti and Shaw, 2020). McGarr (2009) suggests literature names three main reasons for a podcast to be used in HE – one of them is to provide additional guidance and learning material to supplement information to students, which is particularly relevant in this project.  

A number of podcasts have been developed by research institutes and bodies to tackle the issues revolving around research skills, e.g. Royal Geographical Society’s Social Research Methods Podcast (Social Research Methods podcast – RGS). These have typically been aiming its content at graduates and early career researchers. However, relatively little is known about its potential to help UG students develop their skills. There is a wave of podcasts created by amateur social media influencers who record videos with advice for university students and post them on social media platforms. However, such content is not typically based on any pedagogical frameworks or include concrete learning material. While some researchers (Cann, 2007) argue that videos are superior to audio podcasts, the actual purpose of using non-traditional learning tool needs to be considered.  

There is a close relationship between open educational practices and podcasting. Freire’s seminal work on critical pedagogy (Freire, 1970, 1973) focuses on strategies that foster active learning and collaborative construction of knowledge in the spirit of freedom. As such, it Podcasting is also informed by transformative experiential learning (Mezirow, 2003). This is true for student-led podcasts as well as teacher-led ones. As Harter (2019) puts it, “I have no desire to produce podcasts for passive listeners. Instead, I envision podcasts as social activities that involve dialogue between hosts and guests and include the presence of spectators who enter the conversation…”. The aim of a critical pedagogy is to promote social change and a podcast is a strong example of a vehicle that allows it. 

HEs continuously try to make podcasts a part of their online dialogue, which was especially relevant during the pandemic (e.g. The unmissable podcasts and blogposts of the year | LSE Higher Education). Podcasting is common in UK universities (e.g. UCL has a page dedicated to podcasts alone: Podcasts | UCL Minds – UCL – University College London). LEaD has also recently adopted this technique to disseminate knowledge among academics ( While within City there has been a recent push to engage students via non-traditional VLE-based platforms, such as using social media (e.g. AST’s Instagram account), the AST still does not use a podcast as a regular tool in its work with students. Not discussing tools that can assist learners in developing their study habits creates a gap. In light of the positive literature on podcasting pedagogy I chose to explore the value of the tool. 

Reflections on openness in three sample podcast episodes  

Dynamic connections and accessibility (guest: Catie Tuttle)  

AST have a Moodle page with a robust repository of self-study resources and programme-run and university-wide webinar videos. However, after a detailed review of the repository I concurred there were two issues with it. Firstly, all resources relied on visual skills in some way (e.g. video presentations, narrated PowerPoints, handouts, written guides and checklists). Thus, my aim was to create a resource that would accommodate different needs and learning preferences of students (Ausburn, 2004) and employ an innovative tool not currently used by AST. Audio podcast as a medium suits specific needs of learners (Kukulska-Hulme and Traxler, 2005) and allows to create dynamic inputs (Rajic, 2013), thus broadening AST’s resources. It is underpinned by the departmental objective to increase accessibility of the resources produced by the AST. I also liked the fact that it would allow us to target commuters, who form a large percentage of City students. This determined the length of episodes I chose to record to 45 minutes maximum.  

The second problem was the repository was a static space which needed a new dimension to become more engaging. Inviting students to listen to a podcast, which would link back to the repository and to the social media of guest speakers and the AST, could allow dynamic community-building. “Networked learning promotes connections: between people, between sites of learning and action, between ideas, resources and solutions, across time, space and media(Networked Learning Editorial Collective, 2021a, p. 319). I wanted to use that concept to blur the rigid duality of learning vs non-learning online environments, demonstrating cultural openness (Hodgkinson-Williams, 2014). I decided to focus on research skills in order to collaborate with a City librarian to deliver content that would link to the two teams. Once I started working on the episode, I thought it would be a shame not to link any materials from City Library repository as well as the AST ones. I thought this would add a further dimension to our online community (Preece and Maloney-Krichmar, 2005) 

Going forward, I know I need to continue to network with academics in other teams within City to find out how we could deliver collaborative projects in the future. I plan to support my team in designing similar inclusive activities, in particular engaging in 5R activities (Wiley and Hilton, 2018) and potentially taking the podcast initiative further.  

Shared practice (guest: Ruth Windscheffel) 

While OERs and OEPs are increasingly common in education (Bali et al., 2020), Armellini and Nie (2013) note locating subject-specific OERs poses a challenge. I found many YouTube videos on writing a strong essay, but no academic-led audio podcasts on assessment at university level. Kukulska-Hulme (2012) stresses the importance of adopting mobile technologies in a HE classroom setting. Having a podcast discuss the importance of understanding marking criteria and considering terminology typically used in assignment briefs could allow lecturers to share the resource with their students within a session outlining the details of the assignment they have been set for instance or using it to adopt a flipped classroom, an effective pedagogical strategy replacing a traditional lecture-based model (Guy and Marquis, 2016). This was in my mind when I decided to focus on assessment as a meta-skill. At the time I did not know why this was important to me, frankly, but having researched the topic I realise what was appealing to me was the focus on open practices, sharing ideas that could go beyond a simple open-resource instruction (Cronin, 2017). 

The decision to host the podcast outside the City’s intranet was a major decision, which demonstrates technical openness (Hodgkinson-Williams, 2014); it had significant consequences, e.g. how I approach staff to seek answers to challenging questions and how I convince academics to join the project. I found myself to have to convince some academics to participate, not always successfully, as some feared the resource being made open. I also realised that I embarked on this project due to the confidence from knowing how to apply a Creative Commons licence to the material, which tied in with legal openness (Hodgkinson-Williams, 2014). This was one of the reasons I decided to collaborate with a lecturer from LEaD, knowing that would carry some weight with City academics. In this sense I don’t just see the series as a solo project but a resource to be reused and adapted. The aim of this resource was always to encourage collaboration among academics, also in the sense of ease of sharing both internally and externally.   

Going forward, I see that my development in this area can serve students and academics immensely. I hope to create projects that will impact students directly but also indirectly by supporting academics with materials that could be adapted for their cohorts. This will require me to align with open pedagogy attributes (Hegarty, 2015), especially in terms of embedding open educational practice in my work. 

Social justice: OERs and LGBT+ representation (guest: Raf Benato) 

From a social justice perspective, I thought of two different uses for the podcast. Firstly, I wanted this project to predominantly result in an OER – to counter a financial paywall imposed by institutional access; therefore, I decided to host the podcast on a free platform, Soundcloud, to assure financial openness (Hodgkinson-Williams, 2014). However, I also aimed to create resource which would allow a free flow of information to students and aspiring students alike. That meant I was trying to simplify the language used in order to avoid a psychological paywall (Figueroa, 2022), which also tied in with pedagogical openness (Hodgkinson-Williams, 2014). I see that my aim to empower individuals in this way stems from a critical pedagogy perspective which uses education to help “make the world a more socially just place(McElroy and Pagowsky, 2016) 

Secondly, I was deeply moved by the homophobic attacks happening on our campus and wanted to provide a space to promote inclusivity and diversity. Following calls for action to promote representation (Cerezo and Bergfeld, 2013; Medium, 2020; The Queerness, 2022) as well as guidance on embedding inclusivity in HE curriculum (Bittker, 2022; National Education Union, 2022a), I decided to use this platform to collaborate with City LGBT+ support network to design an episode which would be relevant to students (and staff) who may not be represented. “Social justice and emancipation are as important as ever, yet they require new theoretical reconfigurations and practices fit for our socio-technological moment(Networked Learning Editorial Collective, 2021b, p. 327). The LGBT+ Framework (National Education Union, 2022b) advocates a curriculum promoting a sense of belonging and I think that openness of a podcast is a perfect catalyst to share a message of inclusivity.  

Going forward, I would like to find other ways to support the LGBT+ population and other marginalised groups in a meaningful way. 

ConclusionsThe experience of conceiving the mini-podcast series for the AST was very informative in many ways as it showed me my conscious design principles like accessibility affected the final outcome and my intuitive choices, e.g. on the selection of topics were guided by values such as human rights and social justice. As there is evidence combining podcasts with reflective thinking activities has positive outcomes (Yilmaz and Keser, 2016), my future steps are to explore creating additional reflective resources to complement the mini-podcast series I have created.  



Armellini, A. and Nie, M. (2013) ‘Open educational practices for curriculum enhancement’, Open Learning, 28(1), pp. 7–20. doi: 10.1080/02680513.2013.796286. 

Ausburn, L. J. (2004) ‘Course design elements most valued by adult learners in blended online education environments: an American perspective.’, Educational Media International, 41(4), pp. 327–337. doi: doi:10.1080/0952398042000314820. 

Bali, M. et al. (eds) (2020) Open at the Margins: Critical Perspectives on Open Education. Rebus Community. Available at: 

Bittker, B. (2022) ‘LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum as a Path to Better Public Health.’, ABA Human Rights Magazine 47 (3/4). Available at: 

Bolliger, D. U., Supanakorn, S. and Boggs, C. (2010) ‘Impact of podcasting on student motivation in the online learning environment’, Computers and Education, 55(2), pp. 714–722. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2010.03.004. 

Cann, A. J. (2007) ‘Podcasting is Dead. Long Live Video!’, Bioscience Education, 10(1), pp. 1–4. doi: 10.3108/beej.10.c1. 

Cerezo, A. and Bergfeld, J. (2013) ‘Meaningful LGBTQ Inclusion in Schools: The Importance of Diversity Representation and Counterspaces’, Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, 7(4), pp. 355–371. doi: 10.1080/15538605.2013.839341. 

Cho, D., Cosimini, M. and Espinoza, J. (2017) ‘Podcasting in medical education: A review of the literature’, Korean Journal of Medical Education, 29(4), pp. 229–239. doi: 10.3946/kjme.2017.69. 

Cronin, C. (2017) ‘Openness and praxis: Exploring the use of open educational practices in higher education’, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 18(5), pp. 15–34. doi: 10.19173/irrodl.v18i5.3096. 

Edirisingha, P. and Salmon, G. (2007) ‘Pedagogical models for podcasts in higher education’, in Proceedings of the EDEN Conference, pp. 3–8. Available at: 

Facer, B. R., Abdous, M. and Camarena, M. M. (2009) ‘The Impact of Academic Podcasting on Students’ Learning Outcomes’, in Marriott, R. de C. V. and Torres, P. L. (eds) Handbook of Research on E-Learning Methodologies for Language Acquisition. IGI Global, pp. 339–351. 

Ferrer, I., Lorenzetti, L. and Shaw, J. (2020) ‘Podcasting for social justice: exploring the potential of experiential and transformative teaching and learning through social work podcasts’, Social Work Education, 39(7), pp. 849–865. doi: 10.1080/02615479.2019.1680619. 

Figueroa, M. (2022) ‘Podcasting past the paywall: How diverse media allows more equitable participation in linguistic science’, Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 42, pp. 40–46. doi: 10.1017/S0267190521000118. 

Freire, P. (1970) Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Continuum. 

Freire, P. (1973) Education for critical consciousness. New York: Continuum. 

Guy, R. and Marquis, G. (2016) ‘The Flipped Classroom: A Comparison Of Student Performance Using Instructional Videos And Podcasts Versus The Lecture-Based Model Of Instruction’, Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology, 13, pp. 1–13. doi: 10.28945/3461. 

Harahap, S. (2020) ‘PODCAST IMPACTS ON STUDENTS’ LISTENING SKILL: A CASE STUDY BASED ON STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS.’, Jurnal Inovasi Penelitian, 1(4), pp. 891–900. doi: 

Harter, L. M. (2019) ‘Storytelling in acoustic spaces: Podcasting as embodied and engaged scholarship.’, Health Communication, 34(1), pp. 125–129. doi: 

Hegarty, B. (2015) ‘Attributes of Open Pedagogy: A Model for Using Open Educational Resources’, Educational Technology, (August), pp. 3–13. 

Hodgkinson-Williams, C. (2014) ‘Degrees of ease: Adoption ofOER, open textbooks and MOOCs in the global South.’, in Symposium conducted at 2nd Regional Symposium on Open Educational Resources: Beyond Advocacy, Research and Policy, OER Asia. Penang, Malaysia. 

Kao, I. (2008) ‘Using video podcast to enhance students’ learning experience in engineering’, in Proceedings of 115th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, pp. 1–10. Available at: 

Kelly, J. M. et al. (2022) ‘Learning Through Listening: A Scoping Review of Podcast Use in Medical Education’, Academic Medicine, 97(7), pp. 1079–1085. 

Killean, R. and Summerville, R. (2020) ‘Creative podcasting as a tool for legal knowledge and skills development’, The Law Teacher, 54(1), pp. 31–42. doi: 10.1080/03069400.2019.1568675. 

Kinkaid, E., Emard, K. and Senanayake, N. (2020) ‘The Podcast-as-Method?: Critical Reflections on Using Podcasts to Produce Geographic Knowledge’, Geographical Review, 110(1–2), pp. 78–91. doi: 10.1111/gere.12354. 

Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2012) ‘How should the higher education workforce adapt to advancements in technology for teaching and learning?’, The Internet and Higher Education, 15(4), pp. 247–254. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.12.002. 

Kukulska-Hulme, A. and Traxler, J. (eds) (2005) Mobile Learning: a handbook for educators and trainers. London: Routledge. 

McElroy, K. and Pagowsky, N. (eds) (2016) Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook, Volume One: Essays and Workbook Activities. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries. 

McGarr, O. (2009) ‘A review of podcasting in higher education: Its influence on the traditional lecture’, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(3), pp. 309–321. doi: 10.14742/ajet.1136. 

McLoughlin, C. and Lee, M. J. W. (2007) ‘Listen and learn: A systematic review of the evidence that podcasting supports learning in higher education.’, in Montgomerie, C. and Seale, J. (eds) Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 2007–World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications. Vancouver, Canada: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, pp. 1669–1677. 

Medium (2020) Representation Matters: The Impact of Inclusive Education & Teaching LGBTQ+ History., Medium. 

Mezirow, J. (2003) ‘Transformative learning as discourse.’, Journal of Transformative Education, 1, pp. 58–63. 

National Education Union (2022a) ‘LGBT+ inclusion guidance for schools and colleges’. London. 

National Education Union (2022b) LGBT+ inclusion LGBT+ Framework. Available at: 

Networked Learning Editorial Collective, N. (2021a) ‘Networked Learning: Inviting Redefinition’, Postdigital Science and Education, 3(2), pp. 312–325. doi: 10.1007/s42438-020-00167-8. 

Networked Learning Editorial Collective, N. (2021b) ‘Networked Learning in 2021: A Community Definition.’, Postdigital Science and Education, 3, pp. 326–369. Available at: chrome-extension://dagcmkpagjlhakfdhnbomgmjdpkdklff/enhanced-reader.html?openApp& 

Prata, N., Avelar, K. and Martins, H. C. (2021) ‘Podcast: a research trajectory and emerging themes’, in Congresso Brasileiro de Ciências da Comunicação, da Intercom. ociedade Brasileira de Estudos Interdisciplinares da Comunicação. Available at: 

Preece, J. and Maloney-Krichmar, D. (2005) ‘Online Communities: Design, Theory, and Practice’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 10(4). 

Rajic, S. (2013) ‘Educational use of podcast’, in The Fourth International Conference on e-learning, pp. 90–94. 

Singer, J. B. (2019) ‘Podcasting as social scholarship: A tool to increase the public impact of scholarship and research’, Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 10(4), pp. 571–590. doi: 10.1086/706600. 

The Queerness (2022) The importance of LGBTQ+ representation in Higher Education., The Queerness. Available at: 

Waldron, L. M., Covington, B. and Palmer, S. (2023) ‘Critical pedagogy, counterstorytelling, and the interdisciplinary power of podcasts.’, Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy. doi: 10.1080/15505170.2023.2169972. 

Wiley, D. and Hilton, J. (2018) ‘Defining OER-Enabled Pedagogy’, International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(4). 

Yilmaz, F. G. K. and Keser, H. (2016) ‘The impact of reflective thinking activities in e-learning: A critical review of the empirical research’, Computers and Education, 95, pp. 163–173. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2016.01.006. 

The mini-podcast series for AST: openness from a social justice perspective. © 2024 by Agnieszka Marciszewska is licensed under CC BY 4.0  

Leave a Reply

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