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Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Future of Podcasting Is Educational | Education - Pacific Standard

Photo: James McWilliams
"Podcasters, rather than the conventional media or education establishment, are in a position to shape the tone and content of public discourse" observes James McWilliams, Pacific Standard contributing writer, professor at Texas State University.

Photo: iberated syndication via Flickr

The United States is quickly becoming a podcast nation. According to a 2017 survey, nearly 25 percent of Americans—around 68 million—said they listened to podcasts. Forty-two percent were even willing to pay to do so. The largest contingent of podcast listeners (44 percent) are Millennials, and that coveted cohort's tuned-in attention has attracted advertisers, whose podcast-generated revenue rose from $69 million in 2015 to $220 in 2017. In the last four years alone, the popularity of podcast listening has doubled.

Even more interesting is what people are listening to. One would expect genres like sports, news, and technology to be popular—and they are—but they are all surpassed in listenership by one unlikely competitor: educational podcasts.

Educational podcasting takes many forms, but entries all center on scholarly oriented themes and inquiries, taking listeners into topics framed by academic research. Forty percent of podcast listeners evidently crave this kind of challenge. With 43 percent of podcast listeners lacking a college degree, and with some studies suggesting that listening to audio content can result in greater retention of information than reading, the educational landscape is shifting in a potentially profound way: Podcasters, rather than the conventional media, political establishment, or even higher education, are in a position to shape the tone and content of public discourse...

But how well has that task gone? In a nation where only a third of adults have enjoyed the opportunity to earn a college degree, and another third of the American population takes its intellectual cues from religious fundamentalism, the tried-and-true philosophy of the seminar room clearly has its limits. Might the podcast have a better shot at reaching the public at large, as it commutes or exercises, than the professor lording over a seminar room?

Davis think so. "My podcast is a medium of mass education," he says.

Source: Pacific Standard