According to experts, students find podcasts motivating (photo: Austin Distel / unsplash.com)
Joan Antoni Guerrero Vall
An entrepreneurial project by a UOC student boosts use of podcasts as an educational tool in schools
Podcasts let youngsters have their voices, opinions and interests heard
An app has been developed for students and teachers, at any level of education, to create and share content, creating a space for communication and collaboration in the educational community. The app is Peerpod, a project by Aina Serra, a student at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), which she presented in the final of the SpinUOC 2022 entrepreneurship programme.
The app makes it possible to use podcasts in learning, overcoming the problem of the lack of a safe digital space where youngsters can participate in society, with their own voice and opinions. Peerpod also facilitates and enhances the development of skills so that students can organize their own content while working on their creativity, critical thinking, public speaking, and the ability to debate and listen.
Serra, who is a secondary school foreign language teacher and a student on the Joint Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology and Human Evolution (URV, UOC), run by the UOC's Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Universitat Rovira i Virgili, explained that she developed the app with another partner because of her interest in communication issues, and "how we learn to communicate, to listen and to understand each other". That interest, combined with the experience of the pandemic, led her to an interest in the world of podcasts. "We all felt very lonely during the pandemic, and podcasts helped us to have someone who talked to us on a personal level, restoring some of the intimacy and human contact that we were lacking, which has been lost in the digital world, but which we're restoring with these resources," she explained.
Podcasts break the ice of digital communication
In Serra's opinion, podcasts can reverse the trend in digital communication, which has been "a little cold so far" and restore communication based on "dialogue, the way we used to do it, stopping to listen in order to talk". This is what made Serra think it would be interesting to transfer it to the educational field. "Not only for me as a teacher, but also letting the students use it to explain things to each other," she said.
Peerpod is based on the idea of providing teachers with a tool to explain a subject calmly at home, and their students are able to listen to it later "as many times as they need," wherever they are. This means that other things can be done later in class, explained Serra. The idea is also for students to be able to explain the subjects to each other in podcasts, and compile this material so that they can return to it at home.
Serra carried out a study and found that some schools already use podcasts and that many students find it motivating, "not so much for explaining the subjects, but for being able to talk about what they want". This is because "in society, there really are very few spaces where youngsters can participate, because we live in very adult-centred societies, where people under 18 years old have no say."
Calling for young people to contribute their knowledge
Peerpod also emphasizes that youngsters "have a voice and opinion, knowledge and interests" and that "there's no place in society, even in the digital world, where they can share them". Peerpod gives each school the freedom to be able to use the tool in its classrooms. "If a group thinks they can use it to go over material," said Serra, "then that's no problem. Others may think of it as a tool to give students the freedom to express themselves." As the person behind the project, she believes that Peerpod is a safe tool for facilitating students' expression in a safe environment, "with some supervision, so that they're taught how to explain something well and how to do the necessary research". All the material can be stored in categories in one place, and can be retrieved at any time.
Serra is very happy to have participated in the SpinUOC entrepreneurship programme, because both she and her partner come from the world of teaching, and they had limited knowledge about "the world of entrepreneurship […] It's been very good for us, as it provided a solid foundation in terms of raising the project's profile, and we hope that through SpinUOC we can establish partnerships to work with other people who are developing similar products." The people Serra is referring to are those interested in content creation and in the rights of the young to have spaces in which to express themselves and be represented.
Peerpod was one of the eight finalist projects of SpinUOC 2022, the university's annual entrepreneurship and knowledge transfer programme. The initiative is organized by the Hubbik platform, which is responsible for supporting innovative and entrepreneurial projects undertaken by students, alumni, teaching staff, researchers, course instructors and administrative staff at the UOC.
This UOC project supports the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) 4 of the 2030 Agenda: Quality Education.
The UOC's research and innovation (R&I) is helping overcome pressing challenges faced by global societies in the 21st century, by studying interactions between technology and human & social sciences with a specific focus on the network society, e-learning and e-health.
The UOC's research is conducted by over 500 researchers and 51 research groups distributed between the university's seven faculties, the E-learning Research programme, and two research centres: the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) and the eHealth Center (eHC).
The United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and open knowledge serve as strategic pillars for the UOC's teaching, research and innovation. More information: research.uoc.edu #UOC25years
Aina Maria Serra
Student on the Joint Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology and Human Evolution