When Sheuli Chowdhury picked her topic for the podcast assignment in her health policy class, she didn’t take the easy way out. She decided to dive into the intersection of two very complex topics: healthcare and immigration. In this episode of VandyVox, we share her project, an audio exploration of recent research on undocumented immigrants and Medicaid enrollment. Her piece is titled “Unpacking Health Care Disparities.” The assignment, for an introduction to health services course taught by Vanderbilt health policy professor Gilbert Gonzales, asked students to take recent research in health policy and explain it for a lay audience. Sheuli reports learning a lot from the project, about both Medicaid and immigration policy.
For more student-produced audio on health policy, listen to Health Policy Radio with Gilbert Gonzales on SoundCloud. And for those interested in teaching with podcasts, listen to Gilbert’s interview on Episode 27 of Vanderbilt’s edtech podcast, Leading Lines, for information about his podcast assignment and how it helps him meet his teaching objectives.
This episode features an audio peice called “The Panizzardi Telegram” produced by Vanderbilt undergraduate Charlie Overton. Charlie was a student in podcast host Derek Bruff’s first-year writing seminar last fall, a course on cryptography. The course is a busy one, with mathematics and codebreaking, history and current events, and, as of recent offerings, a podcast assignment. Derek asks his students to explore the history of codes and ciphers for a class podcast called One-Time Pod. Charlie’s contribution on the Panizzardi telegram deftly combines historical storytelling and technical explanations. It also communicates an enduring understanding about cryptography: If you don’t know how a message has been encrypted, it’s really easy to make up a decryption method that makes the message say what you want it to say.
For more student-produced pieces on the history of cryptography, check out Derek’s class podcast, One-Time Pod. And for those interested in using audio assignments in their teaching, see Derek’s podcast assignment and rubric for ideas.
Last fall, Vanderbilt student Layla Shahmohammadi interned at Conexión Américas, a non-profit whose mission is to build community and opportunities for Latino families, particularly immigrant families, in Nashville. Layla’s internship was part of her capstone experience as a major in Human and Organizational Development (HOD). When Layla started working at Conexión, she noticed that staff members, who were mostly Hispanic, preferred others in the organization use the Spanish pronunciations of their names. She thought this was interesting, so she talked with her co-workers about their names and identities and produced a short audio documentary as part of her HOD capstone experience. This episode of VandyVox features that documentary, titled “The Name: Names, Identity, and Self-Perception at Conexión Américas.”
For more audio from HOD students, check out the HOD Capstone Learning podcast, available on SoundCloud.
This episode of VandyVox features a short audio story by Vanderbilt undergraduate Sarah Saxton Strassberg called “Hagar Rising.” Sarah Saxton was a student in a fall 2018 anthropology course taught by Sophie Bjork-James on the politics of reproductive health in the United States. The final assignment in Sophie’s course asked stu
dents to research a contemporary reproductive health issue and produce a piece of video or audio that explores that issue. Sarah Saxton chose to look at gene editing, an emerging set of biotechnologies that have the potential to allow parents to pick and choose physical features of their children. Sarah Saxton used what she learned about gene editing and its potential effects on society to write and produce a piece of science fiction in audio form exploring the dangers of taking gene editing too far.
For those interested in using audio assignments in their teaching, what follows is a little background on the assignment that led to “Hagar Rising”…
Sophie Bjork-James, Sarah Saxton’s professor, was a participant in the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching’s Course Design Institute in 2016. The theme of that institute was “Students as Producers,” with a focus on assignments and activities that engage students not only as consumers of information, but also as producers of knowledge. Sophie’s multimedia assignment leveraged some of the strategies discussed at the institute, including asking students for project proposals and storyboards to provide opportunities for feedback as they develop their projects. Sophie also asked students to submit a producer’s statement along with each project, one that included a literature review, a reflection on what the student learned through the project, and a discussion of the process used to create the final product. Producer’s statements like these are useful for evaluating student work on non-traditional assignments like podcasts. Sophie told VandyVox host Derek Bruff that the assignment turned out very well in her politics of reproductive health course, and she’s planning on making podcasts a regular part of the first-year writing seminars she teaches in the future.