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Finding Our Open Podcasting Voices: Blog #2-A for the Open Podcasting Project.

OpenVoices – Open Podcast Landscape, Resources and Support Analysis

Over the last three months, I have been working with my former graduate students on the OpenVoices podcast project. We started the project by having interviews with experienced podcasters and completed a short open community online survey with similar “podcasting support” questions.  The interviews were discussed in blog post 1 and we highlighted the resources and experiences shared from the open community. 

The online survey  (11 participants)  helped focus our podcast series by giving us some practical podcast details to consider: 

  • 45.5 % of the online survey participants felt that 30 minutes is the best length of time for a podcast. Similarly, our interviews also gave us the same feedback, try and keep podcasts short and sweet. 
  • Sound quality and editing greatly influence if someone would continue to listen to your podcast or not. The majority of our participants commented on how likely they are to stop listening if sound quality is off (ie muffled microphones, excessive background noises) and sound editing is not done well (unbalanced sound and poor audio engineering and music choices)  
  • Similarly, voices themselves  influence the tone of a voice (Is the voice real or are they trying to sell something or Is it condescending?) 
  • Finally, the relevance and accuracy of the podcast content for example no storyline or personal relevance, poor research of facts, overly opinionated, no artistic sensibilities and exclusionary topics like toxic masculinity/sexism, racism, ableism, etc.

Some of the podcasts highlighted by the online survey participants include: 

Some of the podcast interest trends include professional podcasts to support work related activities (including to gain ideas for writing and how to do something type podcasts), broad topics that support everyday life (99%Invisible was the only podcast suggested more than once), personal interest and regional information/interest We did not receive any suggestions that were not English, so we are aware of our early bias and will attempt to collect podcast examples that are not only English. 

Some of the podcast resources highlighted by the online survey participants include: 

**We are still working on collecting ALL of the podcast resources to share on a #GO-GN page and are considering a brief data analysis of all the amazing podcast examples**

I want to also highlight how many people volunteered to help our team – in the online survey! That was a special surprise as I analyzed the data, and not something that I expected! Thank you!

The literature review helped us consider how podcasts are perceived which are primarily as an informal means of communication or as digital content for a course. Campbells’ (2005) article There’s Something in The Air- Podcasting in Education highlights the multi-literacy potential of podcasting for students by easily integrating informal oral digital content into our formal classes.  There were also articles and blog posts that considered how to make podcasts with students which we will include in the final resources. We are still reviewing more recent and updated articles to support our learning – but ironically, with the exception of some of the example podcasts, Ambell’s 2005 article on podcasting is still relevant today in 2021. 

I recognize that we may have told you that we had discovered our “podcast niche” in the last blog post. In actuality, we continued to spend an extraordinary amount of time figuring out our podcast “niche” and voice. Why would we spend time creating podcasts that no one would want to listen to or has been done before? We also lived through forest fires in Western Canada and a move across Canada while asking ourselves these questions over and over again. 

We initially wanted to interview different people from around the world to gain some insights on open education using podcasting as a medium from different cultural perspectives. However, as we reflected upon our podcast interviews and considered the participant input from the online survey, we transitioned into a podcast series that would consider an authentic voice that might not have been heard from before. The online survey participants suggested they would be interested in hearing about: 

  • Student perspectives
  • Ways to integrate principles of open pedagogy into curriculum
  • Stories of real impact not theory, getting to the human aspects including things that fail
  • Collaborative projects with students
  • Collaboration, sustainability
  • Student as producer, and the relationship between open education and other teaching & learning pedagogical models
  • Unpacking all the aspects of openness
  • Design, ethics, equity, participatory/collaborative approaches, justice
  • Quality of educational offerings/expertise of open educators
  • Resources, best practices, case studies that can be translated to other contexts (reproducible)

So What is the OpenVoices Podcast Series About? 

One of the key voices many of the interviews highlighted and the online survey participants suggested was student voice. As I listened to the first podcast it became evident that my voice, as an open education researcher was not as relevant as the voices of my former students and now colleagues. The Open Voices project has evolved as a result of the student participation in the graduate #EdTechEthics course in the Leading and Learning in a Digital Age specialty in the MEd Interdisciplinary degree at Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. Nicole and Heather could provide a unique voice of healthy open learning skepticism and curiosity about the influence of open educational practices after the completion of a formal course that integrated open educational practices. 

This fellowship was co-designed between all of us as a result of Nicole’s continued research into OER and open educational practices. Their perspectives and voices expand upon their student experiences, Verena’s dissertation research and the #EdTechEthics SoTL research that continues at the Werklund School of Education.

 As a result of our  reflection on the actual voices and content needed for an open learning podcasts series, our new focus is:  

OpenVoices is a podcast that explores the idea of open education, from the perspective of students who have been introduced to open educational practices in a previous course. The podcast series explores topics that have emerged as key principles of open learning and have motivated the students to continue to learn and expand upon their learning beyond their classroom walls. 

We have completed the first podcast and want to share it with you here. In the first podcast, we introduce ourselves, why we are doing the series and briefly highlight the four themes that have emerged as a result of our project research thus far. 

In the next blog post, we will summarize our experiences after completing the podcast series. 

Until we meet again, 

Verena Roberts 


Campbell, G. (2005) There’s Something in The Air- Podcasting in Education. November- December 2005 Educause.

Howard H. and Park, S. (2008). Educational usages of podcasting. British Journal of Educational Technology. Vol 39 No 3 2008. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.00788.x

Cover image from unplash: https://unsplash.com/photos/-gGy9hVunhE