Episode 28 – “My Humanities Moment: Children’s experiences and voices in social research and literature” by Marta Eugenia Zavaleta Lemus

Runner-Up; Graduate & Professional: “Excellence in Podcasting” Competition

Sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Teaching and the Office of Immersion Resources.

When it comes to weighty discussions, there’s one group of people whose perspectives are often overlooked: children. In this episode of VandyVox, Marta Eugenia Zavaleta Lemus goes to small places to grow to new heights, demonstrating the importance of children’s voices related to human mobilities. She was awarded runner-up in the graduate and professional students category for the Excellence in Podcasting competition.

Storytelling is one of the most effective tools Marta Eugenia utilized to convey the unique perspective children have on life events. Her vivid stories expose, through first-hand experience, the underbelly of life in El Salvador after the Salvadoran Civil War. Powerful and personal anecdotes like Marta Eugenia’s ascribe a tangible component to the value of children’s voices in the face of loss, fear, and hardship related to human mobilities. Ultimately, she relays that life events surrounding her childhood launched her into an academic career as a cultural anthropologist.

Relating to her childhood, Marta Eugenia also focuses on relevant literature that shaped her upbringing to relay the lasting impression that children’s voices can have in society. The first of two books she references is “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank. As Marta Eugenia describes personally relating to Anne Frank’s narrative voice, the listener is unable to deny the importance of continually uplifting children’s first-person narratives. This message is accentuated in the second book she highlights, “My Friend the Painter” by Lygia Bojunga Nunes, which is written from a child’s point of view regarding art and suicide. Both pieces of literature deal feature heavy, solemn topics where children may be intentionally or unintentionally excluded from the conversations, despite their vital contributions.

Marta Eugenia displayed a skillful implementation of background and transitional music that complemented each topical tone. At the onset, she began with playful, attention-grabbing music as she revealed the subject centered around children’s voices. Then, while providing her personal and familial experiences in post-war El Salvador, the song slides into a brooding somberness. Pivoting into a discussion on the dark yet lofty book “My Friend the Painter,” the music modulates mimicking the complexity and breadth the book embodies. She even retells a portion of the story in both English and Spanish, touching back to her upbringing and bringing another layer of accessibility to the audio. Including supportive musical selections in this way enhances how the listener receives the audio content.

 

Discover the stories that spoke to Marta Eugenia through the representation of children’s voices:

“My Friend the Painter” by Lygia Bojunga Nunes

  • https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/8727594-my-friend-the-painter

“The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank

  • https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48855.The_Diary_of_a_Young_Girl?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=QvEdLQXtVi&rank=1

 

Produce a podcast with powerful storytelling like Marta Eugenia’s. This Forbes article outlines the key components to achieve effective podcast storytelling.

“The Power of Podcasting For Telling A Story” by Carrie Kerpen

  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/carriekerpen/2020/03/11/the-power-of-podcasting-for-telling-a-story/?sh=1654323c2fb4

 

Marta Eugenia’s music adds depth to her podcast. Add sounds and edit audio for free using Audacity, then publish for free on Anchor:

Audacity, a “free, open source, cross-platform audio software”

  • https://www.audacityteam.org/

Anchor, a “free, beginner-friendly platform for podcast creation,”

  • https://anchor.fm/

 

Written by Kaelyn Warne, Teaching Affiliate at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

Episode 27 – “Anchor Down, Burn Out” by Abhinav Krishnan

Runner-Up; Undergraduate: “Excellence in Podcasting” Competition

Sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Teaching and the Office of Immersion Resources.

Burnout, a special type of stress related to work, is frequently discussed within academic environments. This physical or emotional exhaustion swelled on Vanderbilt’s campus in a whole new way during the 2020-2021 calendar year. In this episode of VandyVox, Abhinav Krishnan explores the impact COVID-19 policies had on undergraduate morale related to burnout. He was awarded runner-up in the undergraduate category for the Excellence in Podcasting competition.

This superb audio is a part of a larger podcast, “College Voices” in collaboration with the Vanderbilt Hustler, a “news source for Vanderbilt University’s campus and forum for students’ perspectives.” Abhinav is the Executive Producer of “College Voices,” described by the Hustler as a composition of columns highlighting undergraduate perspectives on campus by those with a variety of experiences, passions, and expertise.

In his audio, interviewees described burnout in their own experience, relating reduced breaks, rigorous course loads, and marathon mindsets to the “loss of the love of learning” as early as freshman year and feelings of guilt for engaging in self-care or having fun. Abhinav’s interviews provided a platform for students, whose voices made it clear that as a body, undergraduates felt left out of crucial conversations. Despite the drag students felt, he made sure to highlight a variety of campus resources they found helpful in fighting off burnout, such as conversations with faculty and the University Counseling Center. A key component of his interview style that conveyed their messages came down to effective editing.

Abhinav splices interviews together, rotating between the various students he interviewed and selecting the dialogue that had the most impact for the topic. Rather than feature one interview at a time, he passed the baton between participants and intermixed his own contextual blurbs to provide anchor points for their feedback. He spruced up his sound by adding royalty-free audio for non-commercial productions and chimed in with chipper bloopers at the end related to pandemic mask policies. These flourishes created an uplifting atmosphere around the critical conversation.

 

Find more episodes of College Voices, many of which were written or co-written by Abhinav:

Vanderbilt Hustler: “College Voices” 

    • https://vanderbilthustler.com/category/college-voices/

 

\ Interviews are a great tool for providing authentic audio like Abhinav’s. Here are a few guides to ensure your future interviews are in great shape:

NPR’s Special Series, Student Podcast Challenge: “Starting Your Podcast: A Guide For Students” (What Makes a Good Interview?)

    • https://www.npr.org/2018/10/30/662070097/starting-your-podcast-a-guide-for-students#interviews

Mark Schaefer’s 5 Steps to Conduct a Superior Podcast Interview

    • https://businessesgrow.com/2017/05/25/podcast-interview/

 

Abhinav’s use of music and bloopers uplifts his audio. Find free music like his, usable under a non-commercial creative commons license:

Free Music Archive, Artist “Bio Unit”:

    • https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Bio_Unit

 

Abhinav added audio to anchor his podcast. Add sounds and edit audio for free using Audacity, then publish for free on Anchor:

Audacity, a “free, open source, cross-platform audio software”

    • https://www.audacityteam.org/

Anchor, a “free, beginner-friendly

    • https://anchor.fm/

 

Written by Kaelyn Warne, Teaching Affiliate at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

Episode 26 – “How Real is Silicon-based Life?” by Natalie Wallace and Nicole Kendrick

Winner; Graduate & Professional: “Excellence in Podcasting” Competition

Sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Teaching and the Office of Immersion Resources.

When the line between science and fiction becomes blurred, how can know what’s rooted in reality or simply pseudoscience? This is precisely the question that Natalie Wallace and Nicole Kendrick, graduate students in biological science and biochemistry respectively, aim to answer. In this episode of VandyVox, the dynamic duo debunks famed sci-fi TV-series The X-Files, Season 2 Episode 9 “Firewalker.” The pair earned first place in the graduate and professional students category for the Excellence in Podcasting competition.

Strong components of Nicole’s and Natalie’s style are their ability to swiftly separate conglomerates into components, then scaffold discussions surrounding each subsection. Beginning with the basics, they compared and contrasted carbon- vs. silica-based structures, then built into the underlying mechanisms to lead listeners to the conclusion that silica-based life is unlikely on Earth. In addition to their robust analysis, the women keep the spirit of science fiction alive by referencing progress made in the field of synthetic chemistry for silica-carbon molecules, acknowledging the role imagination plays in the limit of possibilities.

Following the trend to reveal that some science fiction may not be so farfetched, Natalie and Nicole reference tangible examples where science mimics the science fiction found in the show. As examples, they unearthed various and vicious parasites that are capable of modifying host behavior and referenced NASA operations that sent robots to extreme environments, like volcanoes, in preparation for Mars explorations. Their ability to relate fantastical fiction to evidence-based science creates an enticing piece of audio that keeps the listener enthralled.

This STEM squad uses a cold open tactic, jumping directly into the audio in a discussion of the cuteness of robots on screen, followed by pensive music foreshadowing the dark drama ahead. Using supplementary sounds in this fashion catches the listener off-guard then draws them in, creating a subtle ploy to garner their attention.

Natalie and Nicole acknowledged their personal relationship to the show, revealing how they were inspired by the character Dana Scully, a strong female scientist, who may have convinced them to pursue scientific tracks themselves. Driving the conversation further, the podcasters investigated the impact of quality representation of women in STEM throughout media, highlighting both the progress made and the disparities left to address.

Their award-winning audio is a part of their larger podcast, “How Real is that Science?” where the team tackles more myths in a self-proclaimed “effort to improve science communication and watch movies.”

Find more episodes of “How Real is that Science?” by Nicole and Natalie at:

Apple Podcasts: 

    • https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/how-real-is-that-science/id1504271187

Spotify:

    • https://open.spotify.com/show/4sMAb6cpwEzIl8X5esP24g?si=e1f9a8907e9c44f7

 

Educational podcasts shine when evidence-based teaching methods are employed, the way Nicole and Natalie implemented informational scaffolding. Convey your content with precision:

The IRIS Center at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College offers free, online resources related to implementing instructional scaffolding:

    • https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/sca/cresource/q1/p01/

 

Natalie’s and Nicole’s intro hooks the audience. Want to try your hand at a cold open?

Scroll through Tallie Gabriel’s “Show Bites: Hook Your Audience With a Cold Open,” on Marketing Showrunners:

    • https://www.marketingshowrunners.com/blog/show-bites-hook-your-audience-with-a-cold-open/

 

You don’t need a team to create an amazing podcast. Add sounds and edit audio for free using Audacity, then publish for free on Anchor:

Audacity, a “free, open source, cross-platform audio software”

    • https://www.audacityteam.org/

Anchor, a “free, beginner-friendly platform for podcast creation,”

    • https://anchor.fm/

 

Written by Kaelyn Warne, Teaching Affiliate at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

Episode 25 – “Noise Pollution, COVID-19, and Your Health” by Emma Fagan

Winner; Undergraduate: “Excellence in Podcasting” Competition

Sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Teaching and the Office of Immersion Resources.

Since early 2020, dialogues have begun swirling around the effects of coronavirus and the implications of global pandemics. In this episode of VandyVox, Emma Fagan is bringing the conversation back to science to discuss its unexpected correlation to pollution, taking home first place in the undergraduate category for the Excellence in Podcasting competition.

While this audio was not produced for a class, it stands strong because it’s still rooted in research. Emma employed interviews of her roommates to take research into her own hands, grounding the conversation to tangible ways we experience noise pollution on a local level. Broadening the scope to the global perspective, she references international publications and cites scientific conclusions regarding the effects of noise pollution on human health.

Supplementary sounds of noise pollution plop listeners into a shared experience as Emma reveals that noise pollution can be unrecognized as a form of pollution by many. Emma’s tactic for revealing noise pollution to the listener is simple yet effective: pause the audio. When listeners return to the podcast, she offers them examples of both indoor and outdoor noise pollution to calibrate their senses.

Scaffolding our learning, once we’re oriented to the existence of noise pollution, she goes on to describe how the resultant stress and annoyance can negatively affect human health and cognition. Onto the final step of the framework, Emma relates noise pollution and human health to COVID-19, citing studies that compared pre-pandemic noise levels and exposure to those in various places after lockdown or stay-at-home orders were mandated. As she references research both domestic and international, Emma builds scientific trust between herself, as the host, and the listeners.

 

Interviews are a great tool for creating stellar podcasts like Emma’s. Here are a few guides to ensure your future interviews are in great shape:

NPR’s Special Series, Student Podcast Challenge: “Starting Your Podcast: A Guide For Students” (What Makes a Good Interview?)

    • https://www.npr.org/2018/10/30/662070097/starting-your-podcast-a-guide-for-students#interviews

Mark Schaefer’s 5 Steps to Conduct a Superior Podcast Interview

    • https://businessesgrow.com/2017/05/25/podcast-interview/

 

Educational podcasts shine when evidence-based teaching methods are employed, the way Emma implemented informational scaffolding. Convey your content with precision:

The IRIS Center at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College offers free, online resources related to implementing instructional scaffolding:

    • https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/sca/cresource/q1/p01/

 

Emma’s supplementary sounds made her podcast pop. Add sounds and edit audio for free using Audacity, then publish for free on Anchor:

Audacity, a “free, open source, cross-platform audio software”

    • https://www.audacityteam.org/

Anchor, a “free, beginner-friendly platform for podcast creation,”

    • https://anchor.fm/

 

To learn more about specific noise pollution topics Emma discussed, please visit the articles below:

Basu, B., Murphy, E., Molter, A., Sarkar Basu, A., Sannigrahi, S., Belmonte, M., & Pilla, F. (2021). Investigating changes in noise pollution due to the COVID-19 lockdown: The case of Dublin, Ireland. Sustainable Cities and Society, 65, 102597. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2020.102597

Münzel, T., Sørensen, M., & Daiber, A. (2021). Transportation noise pollution and cardiovascular disease. Nature Reviews Cardiology, 18(9), 619–636. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41569-021-00532-5

Nicole, W. (2013). Road traffic noise and diabetes: long-term exposure may increase disease risk. Environmental Health Perspectives, 121(2), a60–a60. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.121-a60

Bickel, N. (2020). Stay-at-home orders cut noise exposure nearly in half. Michigan News, University of Michigan. https://news.umich.edu/stay-at-home-orders-cut-noise-exposure-nearly-in-half/

Local Learning: Noise pollution and Nashville’s education:

Sutton, C. (2021). ‘We deserve to learn in peace” Hume Fogg students call for party bus regulation in Metro Nashville. Nashville News Channel 5. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/hume-fogg-students-call-for-party-bus-regulation-in-metro-nashville

 

Written by Kaelyn Warne, Teaching Affiliate at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

Episode 24 -“Black Tea” by JoHannah Valentin & Shay Milner

In this episode VandyVox is featuring audio from a podcast titled “Black Tea”, that is produced by two Vanderbilt undergraduate students, JoHannah Valentin and Shay Milner, in collaboration with Vanderbilt Student Communications. In their episode, “Women, Religion, and Enslavement”, the women interview Vanderbilt Professor Alexis Wells-Oghoghomeh from the Department of Religious Studies.

While this podcast was not produced in response to a direct classroom assignment, JoHannah and Shay frequently introduce and expand on knowledge they cultivated from Professor Wells-Oghoghomeh’s course teachings. Shay and JoHannah produced this podcast because they wanted to address the discrepancy that exists between the campus demographics and the content produced by Student Media.

The pair draws on knowledge from Dr. Wells-Oghoghomeh’s course teachings and her written articles to ask open-ended questions that create an informed dialogue between themselves and the Vanderbilt faculty member. Specifically, the women reference her article, “the Gendered Ethics of Female Enslavement: Searching for Southern Slave Women’s Religions in the African Atlantic”, which was published in The Journal of Southern Religion, Volume 18. The citation of and the link to a free, online-published version of this article can be found at the end of these show notes. The research and planning involved in the creation of this podcast is evident and is a beautiful representation of how learning can be extended through podcasting, and, in particular, the podcast-interview format.

When asked about their process for creating a podcast, the women said that the first thing they do is create a list of the different components they want to include, for example a self-care section or a quote of the day. Once this list is completed, they divide it into an introduction, main section, and a conclusion; this results in the core structure of the podcast. However, the women go above and beyond this and give their podcast personality and soul by choosing a communication style, integrating relevant music, and creating smooth segment transitions. JoHannah and Shay revealed that they center their sound around “an almost ‘gossip-like’ conversation” that gives the podcast its relatable feel. In addition to the conversation feel, enticing music and soundscapes, like the tea preparation sounds and the African American spirituals, were used create seamless transitions that support the overall messages of the content.

The research, planning, and creativity, of Black Tea truly makes it a masterful piece of student produced audio, and once again shows how interview-style podcasting is an underutilized learning tool. JoHannah and Shay use the software Audacity to edit their podcasts and upload them through the Anchor.fm platform. Links to these tools, and more episodes of Black Tea, can also be found below.

Alexis S. Wells, “The Gendered Ethics of Female Enslavement: Searching for Southern Slave Women’s Religions in the African Atlantic,” Journal of Southern Religion (18) (2016): jsreligion.org/vol18/wells [http://jsreligion.org/vol18/wells/]

Black Tea: https://anchor.fm/johannah-chanteria/episodes/Black-Tea-Politics-of-Black-Gender-eadlaq

Anchor.fm, the platform Shay and JoHannah use to distribute their podcast: https://anchor.fm/

Audacity, the free software JoHannah and Shay use to edit their podcast: http://www.audacityteam.org/

Episode 23 – “Novel Hand” by Alexa Bussman

Today, we’re featuring audio from a podcast called Novel Hand that was produced by Vanderbilt Alumna Alexa Bussman. Alexa studied Political Science, Economics, and Spanish while at Vanderbilt and interned at non-profits like International Justice Mission. Alexa is the founder and editor of Novel Hand, a project that aims to explore the best solutions to global humanitarian issues, and the podcast is an extension of this project.

She created Novel Hand to address a disconnect she noticed between her generation’s passion for social issues and innovative solutions that exist to solve these problems. We are featuring episode 2 of the Novel Hand podcast titled Ethical Fashion with Connie Tsai. Connie is an executive assistant at Nisolo, a Nashville company that desires to push the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction through intentionally designed, ethically made, fairly priced clothing.

While there was no formal rubric for creating this podcast, if you listen carefully you can discern that Alexa has created her own structure. She frames the podcast around these main points:

  • What does ethical fashion look like and how can we recognize it?
  • How did Connie get involved with ethical fashion?
  • And what do we need to know, moving forward, as consumers?

By providing this structure, Alexa creates a cohesive piece of audio while leaving room for Connie to passionately discuss topics from protecting producers with living wages to the intricacies of designing ethical footwear.

Alexa’s podcast is just one aspect of how Novel Hand uses their values to move towards their goal, and this multi-level scaffolding can be applied to academia. Rather than entirely replacing an existing assignment or essay with a podcasting project, consider using a podcast in place of a traditional PowerPoint presentation with a podcasting assignment. This audio demonstrates that podcasting doesn’t have to be the main avenue towards reaching a goal but is clearly an effective and enticing tool to add to your toolbelt. To learn more about Alexa’s project Novel Hand, please see the link below.

Novel Hand: https://novelhand.com/

Episode 22-“Your VU: Beyond the Classroom” by Zoe Rankin

This episode features an independently produced piece of audio by Vanderbilt undergraduate Zoe Rankin. Zoe produces a podcast called Your VU: Beyond the Classroom, where she highlights the passions and experiences of Vanderbilt students outside the classroom and brings light to social justice issues through education and storytelling. In Your VU Episode 6: Vanderbilt Prison Project, Zoe interviews Jenny Pigge, a Vanderbilt undergraduate who is the President of the Vanderbilt Prison Project.

Because this is independently produced audio, Zoe told us she had to come up with her own goals, outline, and rubric. As you listen to this episode, take note of the three questions Zoe asks on each of her podcasts, “What is the issue?”, “What is your story or connection to the issue”, and “how can people get involved or take the next steps to learn more?”. Now Rolling, Your VU: Beyond the Classroom, Episode 6: Vanderbilt Prison Project by Zoe Rankin, featuring Jenny Pigge.

Zoe started podcasting when she was the student host on the Dean of the Commons podcast titled Commons Cast. Through Commons Cast, she got to interview the commons Faculty Heads of House and RAs, amongst others. This opportunity ignited a spark to learn more about Vanderbilt students outside the classroom and the desire to use podcasting as a medium to educate. Then, with the help of Vanderbilt Student Media, Zoe created Your VU: Beyond the Classroom.

This audio is a great example of the interview-style podcasting that has surfaced on previous episodes of VandyVox. Zoe told us at VandyVox that she outlines all of her podcast episodes in the three-question format because it’s important to learn about the issue before bringing in the individual student’s context. Finally, she likes to end with ideas for listeners to educate themselves or become involved with ideas from the guest star. Zoe chooses her topics and guest stars based on gaps in her own knowledge she wants to fill and does her own research prior to recording each episode.

She said that doing your due diligence and creating thoughtful questions prior to recording is vital to maintaining a cohesive structure throughout the episode. When asked about any insights, tips, or tricks she’s learned while podcasting, she stressed the importance of active listening, and while it’s crucial to have research-based questions prepared, being able to listen and respond can lead to conversations that you couldn’t anticipate. Balancing that prepared structure with active listening and the flexibility to go off-course, is what makes Zoe’s audio connected and flowing.

Zoe tackles some important social issues throughout her podcast, and I urge to you go listen to more of her audio. A link to Zoe’s podcast, Your VU: Beyond the Classroom, can be found below. Additionally, if you’d like to learn more about the Vanderbilt Prison Project, the link to the Vanderbilt Prison Project website is also below.

Vanderbilt Student Media:

https://www.vandymedia.org/

 

Zoe Rankin’s podcast, Your VU: Beyond the Classroom:

https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/yourvu

 

Vanderbilt Prison Project:

https://studentorg.vanderbilt.edu/prisonproject/about-us/

Episode 21-“The Peril of the Sonoran Desert” by Rebecca Dubin

In “The Peril of the Sonoran Desert” undergraduate Rebecca Dubin talks us through the changes happening in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. This audio was produced for the Anthropology first-year writing seminar on Culture and Climate Change, taught by Professor Sophie Bjork-James. Rebecca incorporates the interview-style podcasting we’ve seen featured in previous episodes this season. In this format, she artificially conducts interviews with experts on this topic using real-life interviews she found online. The responses of her interviewees are the actual answers of each respective expert; however, these responses are voice acted by some of Rebecca’s friends.

Rebecca’s use of soundscapes to accentuate the issues faced in the Sonoran Desert results in superior quality audio that grips and engages the audience. Growing up in Tucson, this issue is something Rebecca is passionate about and expressed that even if the Sonoran Desert does not draw interest or concern from our listeners, this sentiment can be applied to any natural ecosystem we hold dear. Throughout the audio, she draws wonderful connections and uses this interview format to personalize the issue and relay the words of experts in the field.

This interview-style of podcasting is something that’s been heard before in season 3 of VandyVox and could be a useful tool for audio assignments. If given the proper notice and time allotment, it could be beneficial and unique for students to interview experts in a chosen topic.

The assignment criteria had students focus on a specific region and Professor Sophie Bjork-James encouraged them to look for multiple sources from their chosen area to encourage further learning. Professor Bjork-James said she chose to assign a podcast instead of a regular essay so that the students could experiment with both form and voice in a productive way. She indicated that, in particular, first-year students often stick to the five-paragraph essay format when tasked with a writing assignment. Shifting away from a general essay and into a new medium of expression encourages the student to think outside the box, experimenting with new ways of presenting information and discovering their own voice along the way.

Here it’s demonstrated that podcasting can be used as a means of creative break out from the steeped structure of a five-paragraph essay. Rebecca even said herself that at first, she was a little nervous to work on this project because it was unlike anything she’d ever done, but as she dove deeper she truly enjoyed the research and the creative nature of this project, finding her voice along the way.

The interview-style podcast is a type of assignment that could be used to elevate the quality of a research paper, where the interview itself can develop interpersonal connections and foster academic discussions, while the podcasting format can be tinkered with to be an authentic performance task. Below are some quick links that can help students set up their podcast and provides some specific considerations for preparing for a podcasting interview:

NPR: Starting Your Podcast: A Guide for Students (there is a specific section about conducting a podcast interview on this page too!)

https://www.npr.org/2018/11/15/662070097/starting-your-podcast-a-guide-for-students

Mark Schaefer’s 5 Steps to Conduct a Superior Podcast Interview

https://businessesgrow.com/2017/05/25/podcast-interview/

Episode 20 – “Musical Cryptography” by Audrey Scudder

In this episode of VandyVox, we feature a stellar piece of audio, produced by Audrey Scudder for the History of Cryptography in the department of mathematics, taught by Professor Derek Bruff. Professor Bruff is the creator of VandyVox and hosted seasons 1 and 2 of the podcast. Three years ago, he replaced a paper assignment in his first-year writing seminar with an audio assignment and has been refining the art of assigning podcasts ever since. Professor Bruff asked students to take a code or cipher from history and describe its origin, use, influence, and mechanics. Audrey fully delivered with a captivating piece the bridges the worlds of mathematics and music.

Audrey told us at VandyVox that she’s always had a passion for music theory, and in particular, how music intersects with math, science, and linguistics, and I think that passion shines through in this audio. While providing historical context and explaining cryptography nuances, Audrey used music itself to augment and support the content of the podcast.

Breaking down the intricacies of musical encryption, she provides numerous examples between enciphering vs deciphering, different enciphering techniques, and how sheet music can heighten security and complexity compared to just auditory musical encryption. While explaining the portion about Stegibiza, which discusses how tempo changes can be used as a signal, Audrey actually modulates the tempo of her background music as a fun Easter egg for the listeners.

Finally, Audrey’s research culminates in an epic example, Edward Elgar’s Dorabella movement. She’s entirely successful at blending the storytelling and technical components that were required for this project, drawing the audience into an age-old mystery.  This is such strong, high-quality student-audio because of Audrey’s research and passion for the subject matter Professor Bruff’s thoughtfulness and intentionality behind the assignment. For the past three years he’s been assigning a podcast, each year produces another iteration project goals, rubric, and expectations. Professor Bruff said he noticed that as he built more scaffolding into the assignment, the quality of the student podcasts became stronger.

Each year, he updates a blog he writes titled “Building a Better Podcast Assignment”, where he breaks down the expectations, timeline, and process of building a podcast assignment. A link to this blog and a detailed summary of his iterative process can be found below.

Building a Better Podcast Assignment: https://derekbruff.org/?p=3558

Fall 2017

  • Assignment Duration: Two weeks.
  • Students listen to a professional podcast in class and identify successful aspects and techniques.
  • Students collectively contribute to a draft rubric. (Works well for novel assignment types.)
  • Had the Center for Teaching’s educational technologist, Rhett McDaniel, visit the class to provide an audio collecting and editing crash course using Audacity.
  • Pointed students to a collection of resources built over years of research to select a relevant topic for their podcast and submit for approval.
  • Students are given time in class to plan podcast episodes and workshopping podcast outlines, then have another week to produce and edit the audio for the episodes.
  • Submit 10 – 15-minute episodes via Brightspace along with show notes and producer’s statements.
  • Graded podcasts and gave critical feedback
  • Posted podcasts to Soundcloud

 

Fall 2018

  • Assignment Duration: Three weeks.
  • The additional week gave students more time and added another in-class session to workshop episodes.
  • Students now submit a full script in addition to an outline per the suggestion of Gilbert Gonzales.
      • This increases the scaffolding of the assignment and allows for preemptive editing to fix major problems and address gaps in understanding.
  • There are three in-class sessions total: 1) to discuss sample podcasts, 2) to workshop student outlines, and 3) to workshop student scripts, with 3.5) half of a class devoted to the audio editing crash course.
  • On the instructor side, Professor Bruff recommends using the Podlove Podcast Publisher plugin for WordPress. It’s free, has many options, and useful analytics, and mitigates the issue of running out of storage space on a free SoundCloud account.

 

Fall 2019

  • Assignment Duration: Three weeks.
  • Now students are also required to submit annotated bibliographies containing at least four credible sources, per the suggestion of Sophie Bjork-James.
  • Students create their show notes directly into WordPress so they don’t need reformatting.
      • However, Professor Bruff notes that they are already familiar with the layout of WordPress because they are consistently blogging throughout the course.
  • Students are now responsible for finding images to use for the podcast episodes with appropriate copyright considerations, i.e. public-domain images, Wikimedia Commons
  • Student scripts are run through Turnitin to assure that all work is original.
      • Ran into a problem of student mostly reading off a magazine article rather than creating original dialogue, using Turnitin should mitigate this.
  • Adjusted rubric criteria to include “enduring understandings” that asks students to include something enduring about the field of cryptography, tying their individual episode to the greater field.
  • Adjusted rubric criteria to include “working with sources” to emphasize the importance of copyright infringement and originality.

When it comes to grading, initially Professor Bruff had the students workshop a draft rubric to collectively set the student expectations as well as build a strong foundation for the type of work that goes into creating a podcast. Then, he created a rubric and updated it every year. The current rubric has three main criteria, “content”, “communication”, and “production”, each containing subcategories that can be placed in one of four assessment categories, “poor”, “acceptable”, “good”, and “excellent”. Here, each of the four assessment categories is valued from 1 to 4 points, respectively, and contain a brief description of the quality of work that would earn placement into that category. Below are links to Professor Bruff’s Fall 2019 rubric as well as the handout describing the assignment for students.

Fall 2019 History of Cryptography Podcast Assignment Rubric: https://derekbruff.org/blogs/fywscrypto/files/2019/10/Podcast-Rubric-1.pdf

Fall 2019 History of Cryptography Podcast Assignment Description: https://derekbruff.org/blogs/fywscrypto/files/2019/10/Podcast-Assignment-1.pdf

Episode 19 – “Pretty Funny” by Erica Simpson

Transport yourself back to the 1960s and rediscover what it means to be a “beautiful woman” by Hollywood’s standards and meet the woman who contested those ideals. In “Pretty Funny: How Barbra Streisand Challenged Hollywood Conventions”, undergraduate student Erica Simpson analyzes the beauty and gender roles prevalent in Hollywood in this time period through a modern lens for a class in Cinema and Media Studies taught by Professor Megan Minarich. Professor Minarich seems to have podcasting assignments down to a science.

The crux of the assignment was to present an argumentative narrative about a Hollywood musical film independent of those covered in class. In general, the students were graded on the episode content, their storytelling effectiveness, the strength of their argument, and a peer-review portion. The points breakdown for the podcast project and peer review are outlined below:

  • Podcast Project (250 possible points)
    • Podcast: 200 points
    •  Script: 25 points
    • Show Notes: 10 points
    • Producer’s Memo: 15 points
  • Podcast Peer Review (45 possible points)
    • Podcast Internal Peer Review Draft: 10 points
    • Podcast External Peer Review: 25 points
    • Podcast Overall Peer Review Summary and Revision Plan: 10 points

Professor Minarich also defines a list of pieces that must be incorporated into the podcast, including a 3-part thesis statement, addressing relevant aspects of the five categories of film art, and incorporating 4 – 6 reputable secondary sources. Her full rubric for the podcast project broke down the podcast into subcategories, with assigned maximum point values, that can be rated in four categories: poor, acceptable, good, and excellent. Within each subcategory, a verbal description of what embodied “poor”, “acceptable”, “good”, and “excellent” work was provided, and a score is assigned to each category.

This detailed process of breaking down exactly what she expects from the students and their podcasting performance task provides a structure that shapes the podcasts into robust academic tools. Beyond providing detailed rubrics, Professor Minarich planned field trips to Vanderbilt Student Media to meet Jim Hayes to discuss podcast best practices and recording. Additionally, she established proactive deadlines for mini objectives throughout the semester; an example is featured below.

  • Important Dates (Sample)
  • R 10/3: Visit to Vanderbilt Student Media with Jim Hayes (meet in Sarratt 363 at 1:10p)
  • T 10/8: Discussion of podcast episodes (see Brightspace)
  • R 10/17: Internal Peer Review of Script – Full Draft Due (2 hard copies in class; copy emailed to Prof. Minarich by 1:10p)
  • Su 10/20: External Peer Review of Script Due via Email (to your author and to Prof. Minarich)
  • T 10/22: Podcast Overall Peer Review Summary and Revision Plan due (hard copy in class)
  • Su 11/3: Podcast, Script, Show Notes, and Producer’s Memo due to Brightspace by 11:59p

            Since podcasting is a foreign assignment to many students, directly laying out this level of structure in the syllabus is pertinent to helping students understand the expectations of the assignment and provide the framework to be successful. Further, the peer review process allows students to glean insight into what other students are preparing, and providing feedback on other’s work will help make their own work stronger.

            Professor Minarich had the students email her a copy of the podcast script draft and bring two hard copies to class. One copy is given to a student they designate as an “external peer review partner” who reviews the student’s script individually outside of class. Then, students partner up with a different student, designated as an “internal peer review partner”, who then work together in class to review the scripts and discuss improvements. This provides students with two peer reviews conducted in two different formats.

Erica Simpson said that her podcast would not have been possible without the guidance and resources provided by Professor Minarich. Approaching the assignment through the lens of podcasting allowed Erica to take a more personal and fluid approach to discover the content she wanted to discuss, and she provided VandyVox some helpful tips.

When starting the assignment, Erica began with rough-cut audio, where she turned on the mic and allowed herself to talk through the memorable points of the movie. From there, she was able to reflect on what stuck out to her and used these to build the base of her assignment. However, the podcasting format of the assignment didn’t come without its hurdles. She relays that she initially struggled with finding royalty-free transition audio until eventually discovering a Creative Commons partnered website called FreeSound. Below is an excerpt from Professor Minarich’s syllabus regarding copyright laws:

An Important Note about Copyright and Fair Use: Films and their music/scores are copyrighted material. That said, if you feel it is necessary, you may use a very small sample of sound from the film in your project, since this is for educational purposes (as is my understanding from Frank Lester, Vanderbilt film librarian). Be sure to see me if you plan to do this. Do be aware, though, that since this is copyrighted material, you will not be able to share your podcast outside of the context of our class if you use any sound from the film itself. Thus, given the opportunities that exist for otherwise further sharing your work, I would strongly advise that you avoid using sound from the film itself or any music related to the film that is under copyright.

Student-produced podcast episodes that are of sufficient quality for public listening may be added to a class podcast on musical film history hosted on Soundcloud. A small number of very high quality podcasts containing no copyrighted material will be submitted to VandyVox for consideration. Additionally, you are also encouraged to submit your work to the Undergraduate Writing Symposium for possible inclusion. I am currently working with Prof. Bradley, Director of the Writing Studio, to determine whether podcasts containing copyrighted material are eligible for submission to the UWS. Those that do not contain copyrighted material are certainly eligible for submission.

Additionally, keep in mind that the Writing Studio supports multimodal writing assignments, too! You can certainly bring in your podcast to discuss it with a consultant at the Writing Studio.”

Erica also notes that trying to edit her audio clips in GarageBand was not so simple as a first time GarageBand user. Luckily, podcasts can be created with a variety of audio processing tools. Links to audio processing tutorials and royalty-free sound clips can be found below. More detailed questions about creating a podcast and dealing with copyrights and royalties can be directed to the wonderful Vanderbilt librarians and staff at Vanderbilt Student Media.

This article walks you through the steps to create and edit a podcast in GarageBand with an accompanying tutorial video: https://www.buzzsprout.com/blog/garageband-podcast-tutorial

If you are more comfortable using iMovie, here is a video tutorial on making a podcast in iMovie by YouTuber “TechTeacherNate”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVLPMIqX-JY

An option that’s available for both Mac and PC users is a free software called Audacity that contains the full suite of recording and editing options, similar to GarageBand. Youtuber Pat Flynn has a complete tutorial on using Audacity to create a podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl-WDjWrTtk