Episode 14 – IEPM African Education by Lach, Nagasawa, Oniyangi, and Poudel

José Cossa taught in Vanderbilt’s leadership, policy, and organization department the last few years. José regularly gives his students the option to produce a podcast in lieu of a traditional research paper, and his students often take him up on the opportunity. This past spring, José was teaching in Vanderbilt’s international education policy and management program, or IEPM, and four of the students in his graduate-level course on Africa and education put together a seven-episode podcast as their final project. The four students—Kelley Lach, Kenta Nagasawa, Sabirah Oniyangi, and Shashank Poudel— drew on course readings and class discussions to plan their podcast and identify guests to interview. They spoke with several African students on campus, as well as Vanderbilt faculty with relevant expertise, to explore such topics as the history of education in Africa, early childhood education, technical and vocational training, and more.

The students’ podcast, which they called IEPM African Education, stuck to an interview format for most episodes. Choosing the right interview subjects is critical to this format, and the IEPM students selected some really lively subjects for Episode 6 of their podcast, which we’re sharing here on VandyVox. This episode features three African students currently studying at Vanderbilt, including one of the podcast hosts, reflecting on their educational experiences in Africa and elsewhere. Their stories connect with many of the themes explored on earlier podcast episodes and in José Cossa’s course.

Why does José Cossa encourage his students to create podcasts as class projects? “I believe in the power of the spoken word,” Cossa writes, ” and in making complex information simple” through creative storytelling. Cossa believes in “pushing students outside of their comfort zones and guiding them into zones of exploration of (new) forms of communication” that aren’t part of traditional academic settings. He sees value in having students use new media, like podcasts, in academic settings to deepen their learning.

For the podcast assignment, Cossa asked his students to submit a producer’s statement of sort, a group reflection on the process of creating the podcast. This is a common feature of audio assignments, since these reflective statements can reveal aspects of student learning that aren’t obvious in the final audio product. The group reflections on IEPM African Education made clear how well the students functioned as a team. They shared the work of the podcast—deciding on topics, scheduling guests, learning to use recording equipment, editing the episodes—and filled in for each other when necessary to get the job done. The result wasn’t just a patchwork of individual contributions, it was a podcast that was more cohesive and more compelling than what the students could have done on their own. That’s the sign of a good group project, a task that really benefits from having team members work together.

For more from these students, visit the IEPM African Education page on SoundCloud. For more about José Cossa, visit his website or follow him on Twitter @zeca72.

Episode 13 – Blackademics by Robert Lee

Robert Lee is a recent graduate of Vanderbilt with a degree in human and organizational development. During his junior year, he realized he was constantly having fascinating conversations with a diverse set of friends on campus. He had a vision for sharing some of those stories with people outside the Vanderbilt bubble. The result was Blackademics, a podcast Robert launched in the spring of 2019. Robert is black, and that has certainly shaped his experience as a student here. He’s brought that lens to his podcast, which features relaxed and engaging interviews with friends as they navigate their last semester of college. They talk about relationships, finding their passions, figuring out life after college, and more.

Here on VandyVox, we’re happy to share a recent episode of Blackademics. In this episode, Robert interviews Lucy DK, a Vanderbilt student from the UK who has launched a music career while living here in Nashville. Lucy DK’s music is somewhere between pop and hip-hop, and her story about finding and growing her passion for music in this town on this campus is compelling.

Blackademics is available wherever you find podcasts. For more from Robert Lee, follow him on LinkedIn or Instagram. For more from Lucy DK, find her on Instagram or Spotify, or watch her Tiny Dorm Concert.

Episode 12 – Dispatches from the Field by Kellie Cavagnaro

What comes to mind when you picture an anthropologist? Kellie Cavagnaro is a doctoral student in anthropology and comparative media analysis and practice (CMAP) at Vanderbilt, and she’s preparing to launch a new public anthropology podcast called Dispatches from the Field. The podcast will explore intersections between Kellie’s fieldwork in an Andean highland community of Peru and a mysterious 70-year-old ethnography produced by a Harvard anthropologist who claimed to have been bewitched. In the 1940s, Harry Tschopik, Jr., studied shamanism among indigenous people 14,000 feet above sea level along the shores of Lake Titicaca in Peru. In her new podcast, Kellie will revisit Tschopik’s work and connect it to today through conversations with the grandchildren of community members who participated in his research. Kellie told me that these cross-generational conversations will explore the adventurous but also problematic past of anthropology, while also demonstrating contemporary approaches to navigating and understanding cultural differences.

Here on VandyVox, we’re happy to share Kellie’s pilot episode, “What Pachamama Can Teach Us about #Feminism.”

For more on Kellie’s work, visit her website or follow @KellieCavagnaro on Twitter. For future episodes of her podcast, bookmark the Dispatches from the Field website. Kellie is producing her podcast with Adam Gamwell of Missing Link Studios, which produces the long-running public anthropology podcast, This Anthro Life. And for more about Vanderbilt’s comparative media analysis and practice (CMAP) program, visit the CMAP website.

Episode 11 – “Puzzle Child Podcast” by Belle Raim and Becky Marder

How do you teach a child to read? Not a generic child, but a specific child with specific challenges. Belle Raim and Becky Marder are students in the reading education Master’s program at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. As part of the program, each of them spent an academic year working with a student whose literacy behaviors were seen as a puzzle to their classroom teacher. In the fall they assessed their students to determine literacy strengths and areas for improvement, and in the spring they implemented a targeted instructional plan with the classroom teacher. And at the end of this “Puzzle Child Project,” they were asked by their instructor, Justine Bruyère, to reflect on the entire process in an audio project for Justine’s course, “Literacy for Diverse and Special Needs Learners.”

On this episode of VandyVox, we’re sharing an excerpt from Belle and Becky’s “Puzzle Child Podcast.” The two students produced the audio by developing questions they wanted to address, then answering those questions and discussing their puzzle children on tape. The audio assignment helped them synthesize what they had learned over the course of their yearlong projects, and helped them to think critically about their teaching philosophies and practices.

To listen to the full “Puzzle Child Podcast,” visit Literacy Listening, a website set up by Justine Bruyère, who taught Belle and Becky last spring. Justine likes to have her students reflect on their literacy education work through audio. Self-reflection assignments can be valuable learning experiences for students. Framing such an assignment as a podcast is likely to help students engage more deeply in the reflection process, as they prepare for their recording session and work together to produce a reflection that’s meaningful and interesting.

Episode 10 – Out Loud by Greg Thompson

On this episode of VandyVox, we’re excited to share another podcast produced by a Vanderbilt student. Out Loud: LGBT Stories of Faith features interviews with Vanderbilt students about their experiences coming out to their church communities. The podcast, now in its second season, is the creation of Greg Thompson, a recent graduate of the Master of Theological Studies program at the Vanderbilt Divinity School. Out Loud started in a course Greg took on creativity and theology, but the podcast became an integral part of his Master’s thesis about honoring LGBT spirituality through digital storytelling.

When we asked Greg to select an episode of Out Loud to feature here on VandyVox, he said he really loved the interview he did with Vanderbilt Divinity School alumnus Kelsey Davis. Her approach to spirituality is centered on the statement “Belonging comes before belief.” It’s a statement that has sparked conversations for Kelsey and for Greg in their religious circles, as you’ll hear in our excerpt of Episode 103 of Out Loud: LGBT Stories of Faith.

You can listen to the full conversation on Greg’s website, outloudstories.com, or by searching for “Out Loud LGBT” in your favorite podcast app. Greg recently launched season 2 of Out Loud, featuring more thoughtful interviews exploring the intersection of faith, gender, and sexuality. Thanks to Greg Thompson for sharing his work here on VandyVox.

Episode 9 – Wandering Off by Jacqueline Grogan

Welcome to the second season of VandyVox! We’re excited to share more creative and effective student-produced audio from around campus. This season, in addition to audio pieces produced by students for course assignments at Vanderbilt, we’re also featuring episode from not one, but four podcasts produced by Vanderbilt students apart from any particular course. With podcasting growing rapidly, Vanderbilt students are using the medium to tell stories and connect with audiences.

One such student is Jacqueline Grogan. Jacqueline is the host of Wandering Off, the Vanderbilt University Career Center professional development podcast. Through interviews with Vanderbilt faculty, staff, students, and alumni, Jacqueline explores the many unexpected turns people take along their paths from college to career. Jacqueline has talked to an English major turned photographer, an engineering science major who interned for a US senator, and a Career Center coach about imposter syndrome in the workplace.

On this episode of VandyVox, we’re featuring Episode 15 of Wandering Off, an interview with Vanderbilt alumnus Wes Matelich, a philosophy major turned CPA turned cannabis entrepreneur. Jacqueline was a bit hesitant about the episode, which discusses an industry that’s currently illegal in the state of Tennessee. But, as you’ll hear, Wes Matelich’s path from college to career is really interesting, and Jacqueline felt it would be encouraging to hear for students unsure about their post-college plans.

Wandering Off was started two years ago by undergraduate student Briana Francois. The Career Center was looking for a friendly, approachable way to connect with students at Vanderbilt, and Briana, a student work at the center, proposed a podcast. The Career Center liked the idea, so Briana worked with Vanderbilt Student Media, who co-produce VandyVox, to launch Wandering Off. Briana produced 11 episodes before graduating, at which point Jacqueline Grogan took over as host for a second season. Both hosts have worked hard and collaborated well, resulting in a very professional sounding podcast.

For more episodes of Wandering Off, listen on iTunes or SoundCloud. See also Jacqueline’s 2018 TEDxVandy talk.

Episode 8 – “Aristotle Meets Apple” by Anna Butrico

This episode features a piece of audio produced by Anna Butrico, who graduated from Vanderbilt in 2018 with a degree in English and communication studies. Anna started podcasting her sophomore year at Vanderbilt, launching a podcast called This Vanderbilt Life with help from Vanderbilt Student Media. That experience led her to a summer internship at WPLN, Nashville’s public radio station, where she helped produced over two dozen stories. At the start of her senior year, Anna decided to write her honors thesis on podcasting, looking at how modern podcasts are inhabiting and extending classical Greek rhetorical forms. In this episode of VandyVox, we share the audio introduction to Anna’s honors thesis, “Aristotle Meets Apple: Rhetoric in the Podcast.”

For more by Anna Butrico, check out her multimodal senior thesis, her podcast This Vanderbilt Life, and her stories for WPLN Nashville Public Radio.

 

Episode 7 – “Borders and Rituals in ‘Papers, Please'” by Scholars at Play

This episode features an excerpt from an episode of Scholars at Play, a podcast focused on the critical discussion of video games and their place in society. The podcast is produced by three Vanderbilt graduate students: Derek Price (German Studies), Terrell Taylor (English), and Kyle Romero (History). They got together in 2016 around a shared interest in video game studies after Derek Price put up a few signs in the grad student carrels of a video game controller. Since the campus didn’t have a graduate seminar in game studies at the time, they decided to create their own, as a podcast. They launched Scholars at Play that year with some help from Vanderbilt’s Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy. This episode of VandyVox features the first segment of their second episode, “Borders and Rituals in ‘Papers, Please.’”

For more Scholars at Play, listen to their podcast on SoundCloud or visit their website, scholarsatplay.net. And for more on the origin of the Scholars at Play podcast, listen to an interview with Derek, Terrell, and Kyle in Episode 34 of Vanderbilt’s edtech podcast, Leading Lines.

Episode 6 – “Well Founded Fear” by Joshua Minchin

In this episode, we feature a short audio documentary by Vanderbilt law student Joshua Minchin called “Well Founded Fear.” Joshua produced this piece for an assignment in a refugee law course taught by Vanderbilt professor Karla McKanders. The assignment called for students to take some challenging legal issued related to refugee and immigration law and to convey it to a non-specialist audience through audio stories. Joshua’s motivation for this piece came from his personal experience working as an employment specialist for a refugee resettlement agency before he started law school. In writing about this audio piece, Minchin said it’s important not to lose track of the people who are most affected by immigration law.

Joshua’s piece first aired on the long-running podcast Life of the Law. For more information on Karla McKanders’ collaboration with Life of the Law, as well as other student pieces that aired on that podcast, listen to Episode 136, “New Voices Series: Law Students Take on Immigration.”

Episode 5 – “Writer’s Block Tango” by Sarah Eidson

In this episode, we feature a short audio story by Vanderbilt undergraduate Sarah Eidson about Maurine Watkins, the American journalist who wrote the play Chicago in 1926. Sarah produced the audio story for an assignment in the provocatively titled course “Women Who Kill,” taught in the women’s and gender studies program by English lecturer Robbie Spivey. The course provided a critical look at classical and contemporary representations of women who kill. Maurine Watkins, the subject of Sarah’s audio story, wasn’t a woman who killed, but she covered the murder trials of two women as part of her work at the Chicago Tribune, then wrote her play Chicago about women accused of murder based on that experience. In Sarah’s audio piece “Writer’s Block Tango,” Sarah blends fact and speculation to explore Watkins’ motivations.

For those interested in using audio assignments in their teaching, here’s a little background on Robbie Spivey’s podcast assignment for her course “Women Who Kill”…

Robbie asked her students to make a podcast episode of 8 to 13 minutes in length, using the audio format to respond to the following prompt:

“When we talk about women who kill, we need to talk about X because Y.”

Before scripting and recording their audio pieces, students were asked to conduct preliminary research to identify a topic, then collect sources and write an annotated bibliography. Here’s how Robbie framed the audio production piece of the assignment:

“Support your claims with good reasoning, valid evidence, and when appropriate, good story-telling. Take advantage of the podcast medium to convey your message in ways you would not be able to in a traditional research essay or classroom presentation. For example, strategically use pacing, music, sound effects, ambient noise, other voices, etc.”

Robbie also helped shape her students’ expected audience:

“Address an audience made up of both college students and professors at Vanderbilt and other universities like Vanderbilt interested in conversations about “women who kill.” Your audience is interested in the conversation, but has not participated in the conversation with the sustained attention that we have over the course of this semester, nor has your audience considered the significance of your chosen topic. They may not even be aware that your topic is relevant to conversations about women who kill… As you design your podcast, think about what you want your audience to know, believe, understand, ask, or do.”