Podcasting in Education / Underused & Underrated

With any medium, higher education will anxiously look at this new space and ask, should we have a podcast? There’s a lot to consider before jumping in, but this shouldn’t stop institutions from starting up or entering the podcasting world before competitors do.

There are nearly 2,000 podcasts listed in the Education category on iTunes, with content spanning from learning English to how to be a better parent. Unfortunately higher education has yet to earn its own spot in the iTunes store and other podcast players (although Education is divided on iTunes Previewbetween Educational Technology, Higher Education, K-12, Language Courses, and Training).

As the medium grows the need for more specific classification of podcasts will be inevitable

Imagine students hunting for colleges first skimming through the “college” podcast category instead of searching on Google! Suddenly, the thing that will make you stand out most is a quirky name for your podcast.

Ownership

One of the big problems with projects in higher education is that of ownership. Whose podcast is it? As a new communication medium it’s easy to assume that it would live within marketing or communications. But then it possibly becomes an external marketing initiative, and perhaps student life was hoping to reach students on campus. So, is it their podcast? I just hope it won’t turn into a meeting with five different divisions on campus.

There’s no “right” answer to who owns the podcast on a college campus; it really comes down to the overarching goal, as well as division of resources. Whatever department owns it is usually the one who has to see it through, and that’s an important discussion to have as soon as possible.

The Evolution

I truly believe the ownership discussion will come after the ooh shiny period for many institutions. Divisions that decide we need a podcast but don’t have the resources will likely toss the responsibility at students because they’re not quite sure how it all works, but their student was an extra in a high school band’s music video one time.

This method usually results in a great podcast that loses momentum the day after the student graduates from college, or something mediocre because of a lack of resources or experience. That’ll lose steam too. Thanks, senioritis.

It’s inevitable but a shame, really, because podcasting can become a unique and powerful resource for so many divisions of campus. Naturally, some institutions will hit the podcast sweet-spot and really find their stride (and, I hope all of them do!), and suddenly a podcast will feel as “required” as a social media presence.

And Beyond

Once the higher education space has noticed podcasting as a valuable medium (and really, it’s not too far off considering the significant number of podcasts that have launched in 2017 alone), institutions will put more resources into its creation. Remember when social media was an “other duties as assigned” and now nearly all institutions have at least one Social Media Coordinator (or Director?) as part of their marketing teams? There’s no question in my mind that institutions will be hiring podcast producers within the next 5 years.

I also believe the we need this feeling will resonate with departments on campus the same way social media platforms have slowly creeped up from smaller divisions of campus. For better or worse, academic departments, student life, even the Library could (and may) try to enter the space to connect with their niche or ‘unknown’ audiences.

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