Alternative Assessments with Classroom Podcasts

Podcasts have become increasingly popular among younger audiences and digital natives. Podcasts have emerged as a new way of sharing audio information with a large audience in recent years. They are a viable option for going deeper into various topics. According to the Reuters Institute's current Digital News Report, 36% of global survey respondents have listened to a podcast in the month leading up to the survey, with levels of adoption ranging dramatically between regions. The map below shows where the most avid podcast listeners and skeptics dwell.

Assessments allow us to better meet the needs of our students. This also allows us to adopt popular tools recognized and enjoyed by broad audiences like podcasting. Podcasts are an excellent resource for community participation and knowledge transfer. Podcasting tools have been used in education for student projects, authentic assessments, increased research participation and compelling student learning opportunities.

A podcast is a series of digital voice recordings that can be downloaded or streamed. Podcasts can be presented by one or more people who conduct a discussion, tell tales or report on ideas or current events. Get started with podcasts in the classroom in just three steps.


Select an Assignment for Students to Complete

Dr. Sawsan Jaber, an educator in Franklin Park, Illinois, uses podcasting for her students to share their thoughts after specific units they finalize. Students choose an authentic audience to create their episodes, and they are responsible for recording and producing their work. Students can select what they feel is most important to elevate their own voices from the texts they read. Dr. Swansan asks students, "What issues are most important for your mic?" While this open-ended topic selection may not work for your classroom, you can give students specifics to use to record their episodes. One example might be to have students record an episode centered around a career connected to their coursework. Students can research jobs related to the course and share what they have learned using their voices. Allow students to work individually, in pairs or in small groups to showcase their work.

Another example assessment is to allow students to record podcast episodes once they complete an iCEV lesson. Ask students what is essential for their mic and will enable them to elevate their own learning on their mic. Give students criteria for the assignment. For example, students might use certain vocabulary words from their vocabulary handout or answer all of the essential questions by the end of their episode. The possibilities are endless.


Select a Tool to Record

Anchor is a free podcasting app that makes it easy to publish a podcast. Students can upload, record, edit, create and publish their episodes within this app. Once episodes are completed, students can also distribute the podcast to others who can hear the episodes on iOS and Android devices. Anchor also shares tips and tools to help create an audio podcasts.

Soundtrap is another podcasting tool. Along with creating podcasts, this tool allows students to transform their spoken words into text and edit their recordings like a text document. With the game-changing interactive transcript, you can take your workflow to the next level. 


Share the Podcast

Share what students record with an authentic audience. These might be their classmates, other teachers or their guardians. Original audiences assist students in connecting their classroom work to the actual world and give kids a sense of ownership to draw attention to their work. This creates a win for everyone.

Once the podcast has been recorded and published, students can share the podcast through their digital portfolio. This is a great way for students to share their stories and display their skillset to potential employers. 


Podcasting is becoming a valuable tool for educators to use in their classrooms, especially as an alternative assessment. Do you have a podcast you would like to share? If you have a podcast or create an episode with your students after reading this post, please share. We would love to learn from you.


About the Author

Knikole_Headshot_WebKnikole Taylor has 19 years of experience in public education. During her time in education, Taylor served as a campus and district administrator for nine years and a teacher for 10 years. Taylor has a passion for designing and delivering learning experiences to students and adults. In her role as an Instructional Content Specialist at iCEV, Taylor couples her previous experiences in education to develop curriculum and instructional materials for iCEV’s online platform.