10 Ways You Can Use Podcasts in Your Course to Engage Students

how to use podcasts to engage students college teaching

Here are 10 ways you can use podcasts in your course to engage students and improve learning.

Have you used podcasts in your courses yet? If not, you might want to consider it! Podcasts can be an excellent tool to add to your lesson to enhance a message, present more in-depth perspectives, and offer a different medium for students to engage with the course content.

And, podcasts are popular! There are more than 3 million (wow!) podcasts representing a variety of topics: current issues, education, writing, research, science, leadership, politics, management, business, skill development, hobbies, etc. The list just goes on and on. 

I’m almost positive there is at least one episode in one podcast somewhere you could integrate into your course. And if there isn’t, then you and your students could create one! 

What is a podcast? A Very Quick Intro

A podcast is, “a digital audio or video file or recording, usually part of a themed series, that can be downloaded from a website to a media player or computer” (Dictionary.com). They are similar to a radio show.

Podcasts may be released on a regular schedule (daily, weekly, monthly) or as part of a limited series (12 episodes for example). They may be designed as an interview (with an interviewer and guest(s)) or may include only one person talking during the episode.

Podcasts can be accessed directly through the presenter’s/host’s/sponsor’s websites or by using other platforms (such as Google podcasts, Apple podcasts, iHeartRadio, etc.).

You have the option to subscribe to the podcast, and you have the ability to download podcasts to your favorite digital device so you can listen to them without internet access.

Most podcasts are public, but podcasters now have the ability to create private podcast feeds that are not published on all platforms. This allows podcasters to limit who can access their content, build a community of listeners, track listener data, customize feeds, and control where and how their podcast is promoted.

Benefits of Podcasts as Teaching Tools

Why might you want to consider using a podcast in your course? Here are a few ideas to consider:


  • Most podcasts are free! (Note: Some private podcasts are free and others require a paid subscription or one-time access fee.)

  • Easy access. You and your students can listen directly from a computer, laptop, phone, or tablet.

  • You and your students can download episodes to listen to when you’re on-the-go. No internet access required. Listen during your commute, when you’re traveling, while doing the dishes, or walking across campus.

  • You and your students can listen to an episode anytime, anywhere on your own schedule.

  • Allows you to integrate a variety of perspectives and into the course.

  • Bring “real time” conversations to the classroom. Podcasts published daily or weekly make it easy to bring the most current perspectives into a class discussion.

  • Many podcasts include transcripts which you and your students can use for clarification, fact checking, additional conversation, or reference.

  • Podcasts can be used in face-to-face, blended, hybrid, flipped, and online courses.

10 Ways You Can Use Podcasts in a Course or Lesson:


  1. Compare and contrast two podcast episodes where the same topic is discussed by different guests.

  2. Use an episode as a supplement or additional resource for a reading assignment.

  3. Ask students to work in pairs or groups to prepare a list of questions before listening to the episode. Then, encourage them to listen to the podcast or review the transcript to find the answers to the questions. Send unanswered questions to the host (or guest) or post them to social media to encourage others to submit their responses.

  4. Start class by playing a podcast episode (or clip of an episode) to start a class discussion or activity.

  5. Assign a controversial episode. Ask students to listen to it before class and come prepared with specific references or justifications to refute or support the points being made by the presenter.

  6. Ask students to listen to the episode and then post three comments they found most interesting/provocative/important. Make sure students add a time stamp to their comments so you and other students can quickly find and re-listen to that part of the episode.

  7. Encourage students to recommend a podcast or specific episode related to the course material. Share their recommendations on the course website.

    Note: You may have to explain what is appropriate for the course or approve their submissions before promoting the resources to other students in the course.

  8. Create an interactive document (such as a Google doc, forum, wiki, Slack channel, Discord server or channel, etc.). As they listen, encourage them to post comments and ideas in real time. Integrate their comments into the lecture and/or class discussion.

  9. Ask students to post their favorite quote from the entire episode. They can choose ONLY ONE quote and then explain why it resonated with them and what it means in relation to the course material.

  10. Invite the host (or guest) of the podcast to do a virtual interview with your students. Ask students to prepare questions in advanced or highlight talking points they’d like to follow up on with the host or interviewee.

There are so many more ways to integrate podcasts into your course! These are just a few to ideas to help you get started!

Resources & More Information:

How Stuff Works. How podcasting works. Available online: https://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/basics/podcasting.htm

Inside Higher Ed Podcast (September 30, 2021) with host Dr. Bonni Stachowiak. Episode 381: How to use Podcasts in Teaching with guest Dr. Barbi Honeycutt.

Lecture Breakers Podcast. Episode 33: 10 Ways to Use Podcasts to Break Up Your Lecture with Dr. Barbi Honeycutt.

Lecture Breakers Podcast. Episode 37: 10 Ways to Use Podcasts in Faculty Development with Dr. Barbi Honeycutt.

Podcast Insights. Available online: https://www.podcastinsights.com/podcast-statistics/