Are you listening?

Podcasts. According to recent ABC research 91% of Australians know what a podcast is, and 33% listened to a podcast in the prior month, Lisa Bryant writes.

It appears if you are a fan of podcasts, you are really a fan – like the woman I overheard recently who said her family has been trained – if her earphones are on, she is NOT to be disturbed. The ABC research also showed that of those who listened to a podcast in the previous week, they listened for an average of 6.1 hours.

So, what is it that appeals about podcasts? Is it the portability? Is it the fact that it can be done while doing otherwise boring/ tedious activities? (Apparently activities that are often accompanied by podcasts are ironing, driving, cooking and vacuuming!) Regardless, it is clear that an increasing number of us are listening in to podcasts – and listening regularly.

Podcasts are also being used as cheap or free professional development by teachers. It is a simple way of accessing expert information and connecting with people with similar specialised educational interests as yours. More and more teachers have also moved past being podcast consumers to being podcast producers. There are podcasts for new teachers, podcasts for humanities teachers, maths teachers, STEM teachers, early years teachers and primary teachers.

Had enough of learning? Then there are crime podcasts, entertainment podcasts and cooking ones.

The 2019 Australian Podcast Award winners have just been announced. Podcast of the Year is Wrong Skin a crime podcast from The Age about the disappearance and death of two young Indigenous adults in the Kimberleys. Popular podcast Chat 10 Looks 3 where ABC journalists Annabelle Crabb and Leigh Sales talk about, well everything, won both the Literature, Arts and Music Category and the TV, Film and Popular Culture category.

Education podcast Teachers Education Review – which bills itself as the Australian podcast for teachers that bridges the gap between research policy and practice’ – won the Career and Industry award. This podcast is hosted by Cameron Malcher, Head Teacher of English and Drama at a NSW high school, and Corinne Campbell, an assistant principal at a NSW primary school.

A great podcast for early childhood teachers is The Early Education Show. (And I’m not just saying this because I am one of the podcast’s co-hosts.) Each week, early childhood teachers Leanne Gibbs and Liam McNicholas and I talk early childhood education with a strong advocacy bent. IEUA NSW/ACT officers have been interviewed on this show. We must be doing something right because the podcast has been downloaded over 80,000 times and we have just published episode 100.

If you have not yet ventured into the world of podcasts, why not try now? They are more accessible than ever – check your podcast app on your phone (normally it’s a pre-installed app) or check out Spotify. Simply search for a podcast via the app and start listening. If that sounds too complex just Google the name of the podcast you are interested in and listen straight from their web page.

A few weeks ago the head of the NSW Department of Education, Mark Scott, started his own podcast Every Student – a series of conversations with outstanding teachers. When the bureaucrats begin to see the benefits of a communication medium, it’s probably just past its peak, so if you are not already, jump on the podcast train now.

Lisa Bryant is an early childhood consultant and journalist.