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October 23, 2023, by Laura Nicholson

Podcasts for Teaching and Learning

Who can resist the charm of a captivating podcast?

Podcasts offer a convenient and accessible method of self-paced learning, enabling students to engage with the content at their leisure, revisiting it whenever they wish.  Admittedly, the primary obstacle revolves around time constraints, as it can take time to locate or create the perfect podcast to meet the intended learning objectives but don’t be put off by this. If you can’t find the time to locate suitable podcasts there are alternative options. You could set a research activity and put the onus on students to locate an interesting podcast on a topic. Or you could go a step further and use student-created content. Podcasts really are such a flexible and cost-effective resource to use, so read on to discover the different ways you could use them for teaching and learning.


Podcast Debates

In this activity, podcasts with contrasting viewpoints are used to foster debate and discussion among students, so a terrific way to enhance critical thinking, communication skills and a deeper understanding of complex topics. After listening, students participate in a debate or discussion, using evidence and insights from the podcasts to reach an overall viewpoint.


A practical example of the debate activity

Like many, I am following the Artificial Intelligence (AI) debate intently and consequently I have listened to plenty of podcasts on this topic over the last few weeks. So, if I were to create a podcast debate, the focus would be for students to identify the opportunities and threats of AI in education.


Oh, the possibilities! Which podcast to choose

In terms of the opportunities of AI, Sal Khan’s podcast on how AI could save (not destroy) education would be an excellent choice here, and I must say it is well worth a listen. He discusses several thought-provoking arguments on the benefits he sees for both students and educators from AI. Sal argues that all students could have their own personal 1:1 tutor, and lecturers could all have their own teaching assistants if we fully utilise the potential of AI.

The front cover of The Great Gatsby book showing a jetty and a green light in the distance

He also covers an interesting story of how AI can bring topics alive and provides an example of a student who was struggling to understand the wonderings of Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby. Why was it that Gatsby just kept staring at the green light? She had searched online but no answers resonated with her. However, thanks to an AI tool called Khanmigo, she was able to pose the question directly to Gatsby himself. I have to say she got a pretty impressive response but I was left wondering about the impact of cultural bias in such scenarios.

Sal (2003) then finishes with a powerful-use case that ‘AI can be used to enhance HI – human intelligence, human potential and human purpose’.

Interesting, but I think I will adopt optimistic caution for now.


Counter arguments required. Now for a Podcast focused on the limitations of AI

Now it’s time to turn my attention to podcasts that could cover some counter-arguments on the limitations of AI. I recall a podcast based on the incredible creativity of deep fakes. In this podcast, Tom Graham (2003) speaks about his concerns relating to how people will struggle to tell what is real and what is fake in the future. This would work well for this podcast debate because it is a good contrast to Sal Khan’s arguments. A podcast by Yejin Choi titled Why AI is incredibly smart and shockingly stupid, also springs to mind to provide an opposing viewpoint. I liked her podcast as she provided practical examples to back-up her arguments. This would serve as a good model for students to follow when considering how to make their arguments more convincing.


Where is the evidence that ChatGPT lacks common sense?

To justify her argument that ChatGPT lacked common sense, Yejin Choi recalled when she asked ChatGPT a seemingly simple question.

‘Suppose I left 5 clothes to dry out in the sun and it took them 5 hours to dry completely, how long would it take to dry 30 clothes? (Choi, 2023).

What followed was unarguably a logical response from GPT4, but as you can see below, the logic was fatally flawed due to the absence of common sense.


clothes on a washing line

Response by ChatGPT (2023)

Drying time for clothes can depend on several factors, including weather conditions, fabric type, and the size of the clothes. However, if we assume that all the clothes are similar and the weather conditions remain constant, you can make a rough estimate based on the information you provided.

You mentioned that it took 5 hours to dry 5 clothes.

This means that, on average, it took 1 hour to dry one piece of clothing (5 hours / 5 clothes = 1 hour/clothing).

If you want to dry 30 clothes under the same conditions, you can use this average drying time per clothing:

30 clothes * 1 hour/clothing = 30 hours

So, it would take approximately 30 hours to dry 30 clothes under these conditions.


Yikes, 30 hours! Well, this is one instance where I am incredibly happy ChatGPT is wrong.


To summarise

That’s three podcasts that should work for my podcast debate activity. Luckily, it didn’t take long to locate these because I’m a regular listener to podcasts but even if you’re not, all you need to do is just find a podcast platform focused on your area of interest and then you can usually search through to find something related to your learning goals.

I have so much more to say on this topic but alas, I am trying to keep these posts to 500 words, and I am nearly double that. Podcast debates are just one example of how to use podcasts in teaching and learning but do take a look at the resource below which summarises other potential opportunities.

Just click or tap the image to view different examples.


Choi, Y. (2023) ‘Why AI is incredibly smart and shockingly stupid,’ [Podcast] TED Tech, Available from Spotify (Accessed 11/10/2023)

Graham, T. (2023) ‘The incredible creativity of deep fakes and the worrying future of AI,’ [Podcast] TED Tech, Available from Spotify (Accessed 21/10/2023)

Khan, S. (2023) ‘How AI could save (not destroy) education,’ [Podcast] TED Tech, 14th July. Available from: Spotify (Accessed 08/10/2023)


Posted in Learning technologyTeaching and Learning