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 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 15 – “Language Learning through Digital Games” by Meghan McGinley

How can games help someone learn a second language? Vanderbilt graduate student Meghan McGinley was interested in exploring that question this past spring. Meghan, who is pursuing a PhD in French with a certificate in Second Language Studies, was a student in a course on second language acquisition taught by my Center for Teaching colleague Stacey Margarita Johnson. Stacey regularly asks the students in her graduate courses to conduct interviews with language teachers or language learning experts. Meghan was planning to do her semester project on that question – How can games help someone learn a second language? – so for her interview, she reached out to University of Arizona linguistics professor Jonathan Reinhardt, who had recently published a scholarly book on games and language learning.

Meghan’s interview with Professor Reinhardt covers a lot of ground, from his path into game studies, to the problems when we think of work and play as two separate things, to the connection between Harry Potter and a 1961 book on games by a French sociologist. Stacey Johnson found the interview so interesting that she featured it on her podcast, We Teach Languages, and we’re excited to feature it here on VandyVox, too.

Stacey Johnson launched We Teach Languages, a podcast about language teaching featuring the diverse voices of language teachers, in 2017 as an offshoot of her courses. For a few years now, Stacey has been asking her students to conduct interviews with language educators. The interview assignment comes fairly early in the course, around the third week, so that Stacey can then use her students’ interviews throughout the course in conversation with the course readings. The interviews were so useful to her students that she was inspired to share the best of the interviews with the wider language teaching community. That led her to create We Teach Languages, which has now posted 115 episodes.

Stacey does a lot of the interviews for We Teach Languages, but she also accepts contributions from colleagues and regularly features the best of her students’ interviews. For instance, Meghan McGinley’s interview on language learning through games was featured in Episode 96. Stacey has written a really thoughtful blog post on her interview assignment, how it led to the creation of her podcast, and how her podcast continues to inform and enhance her teaching. If you’re interested in audio assignments in your teaching, or if you’re a language teacher, it’s recommended reading.

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 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.