two pictures: one of a mircophone the other of an 18th century woman writing

Podcasting in a Writing Class? Considering the Possibilities


Recommended Externally-Produced Podcasts

Here are some podcasts, by topic, I recommend considering for your classes or even checking out for your own use. I provide links to the sites but nearly all of these can also be found on iTunes. The topics are linked below with subtopics in each:

Writing || Tech & Design || Rhetoric || Informatve || Other


  1. Technical Writing/Communication:

    These may be good for technical writing or technical communication students or classes.

  2. Writing Issues:

    These may be good podcasts to require your students to listen to a few episodes or even require subscription for the semester.

    • Grammar Girl: Grammar information in a fun and easy form. A favorite.
    • I Should Be Writing: A “podcast by a wanna-be writer for wanna-be writers. Let my stack of rejection letters and battle scars benefit you” (from website). This is for fiction/science fiction writers, but some advice may be helpful to student writers.
    • Podictionary: A "word of the day" podcast where Charles Hodgson goes into the background for the word, often including interesting stories.

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Tech & Design

  1. Design, Usability, and User Experience

    These may be good for design and technical communication students or classes. I use these in classes where we focus on web design, document design, and/or usability issues.

    • Design Critique: Products for People: "Encouraging usable products for a better customer experience."
    • Screen Space: A podcast about web, blog, and new media design for the everyday and non-expert user. This is my podcast.
    • SOUND IN THE MACHINE: "a podcast for technological sound." Focuses on sound issues. Done by a past student of mine: Brian Snead.
    • UIE Brain Sparks: User interface engineering with Jared Spool (was SpoolCast).
    • UXpod: "Designing for Humans"; user experience podcast.
    • Web Axe: Practical web design accessibility tips.

  2. Social Media:

    Since social media is such a new and quickly evolving area, podcasts can provide kairotic information. I enjoy using examples of social media when I teach social media, and use some of these podcasts as texts in graduate and undergraduate classes.

    • Diary of a Shameless Self-Promoter: "Zen marketing for all self-promoters, from the timid to the fearless." This covers a lot on social media and networking.
    • The Digital Marketer: Quick and dirty tips for growing your business with digital tools. Has ended, but the episodes are still good.
    • "Making of a Podcast" Virgin Worlds #70: This is a great podcast on how to do podcasts. I require this episode as "reading" for all my classes that do podcasts. Normally the podcast is about gaming.
    • Mind Share/Social Media Marketing Strategies: The psychology of social media: "Learn how to leverage human psychology and social media technology to become world famous… build social presence, get attention, and sell more" (iTunes). These are quick, interesting podcasts. So far there are only a few.
    • SitePoint: "News opinion, and fresh thinking for web developers and designers. The official podcast of" (from website).
    • Social Media Podcast: "The latest news and forthright opinion on what's happening in social media, covering topics like Twitter, blogs, social networks and podcasts. Featuring interviews, opinion and rants from some of the leading names in social media" (from website). The podcaster is from the UK and you may like the accent or not.

  3. Technology:

    These podcasts may be good for technology-intensive classes, as semester subscriptions or single episode "readings." They also may provide good examples for critique and analysis. Tech podcasts show up in some of the other categories I have included.

    • Inside Mac Radio: News and updates from the Mac community
    • TEDtalks: From the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference, these audio or video podcasts (most are available in both formats) include some of the world's "most fascinating people: Trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons, and geniuses" (iTunes). These are good examples and work well for critiques and analysis.
    • This week in Tech: Latest trends in tech (Leo Laporte). "Winner of 'Best Video Podcast'" in the 2009 People's Choice Podcast Awards" (their website).

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  1. Critical Thinking/Skeptics:

    I often recommend critical thinking and skeptic podcasts for my rhetoric students. The podcasts are good for rhetorical analysis.

    • Skepticality: The official biweekly podcast of The Skeptics Society's Skeptic magazine. "Our podcast is here to bring you relevant, under reported current events, as well as in-depth discussions from a scientific, critical, skeptical, and humorous point of view."
    • The Skeptic Zone: "The Podcast from Australia for Science and Reason" (from website).
    • Token Skeptic A "weekly look at superstition, paranormal belief and the science behind it all. The podcast covers a range of ideas and issues, stemming from psychology, philosophy and ethics, science, critical thinking, literacy and education. I really enjoy doing interviews!" (from website).

  2. Politics & Opinion:

    These podcasts can make great readings, whether individual episodes or a semester subscription, in rhetoric classes. These can also make good texts for rhetorical critique and analysis. These would also work in classes that focus on speeches and oral presentations. Many have a political focus that fits well with classes or projects that focus on politics.

    • Common Sense with Dan Carlin: Carlin is, according to the iTunes listing, one of the "leading thinkers among today's politically independent crowd." Also called non-partisan, fiscally conservative, and socially liberal, this may be a good choice for those looking for something neither left nor right.
    • Democracy Now: Highly rated on iTunes and seems to do a good job at looking at a variety of angles. Noted as a good "independent" politics podcast. This is a radio show converted to podcast.
    • Free Talk Live: Rated highly on iTunes. Calls itself "talk radio that ANYONE can take control of." Students in my 2008 Senior Seminar recommended this podcast to other students for their political podcast subscription.
    • Great Speeches in History: This podcast also focuses on what are considered great speeches and often includes the actual speeches by the speaker.
    • KCRW: Left, Right & Center: Rated fairly highly on iTunes and seems to do well including left and right points of views. This is a radio show converted to podcast.
    • My history can beat up your politics: According to the iTunes blurb, this podcast discusses politics in the context of history. This is a fairly neutral political podcast. May also be good for those looking for something neither left nor right.
    • Presidential Archives Uncovered: This series includes clips from the archives including conversations, speeches, and more.
    • Rhetoric Nation: Reviews on iTunes say this is a "ranty" and opinionated podcast where listeners either will agree 100% or disagree 100%. The blurb says the goal is to "leave the listener informed and confused by the state of things big/small and everything in between."
    • Slate's Political Gabfest: Rated highly on iTunes. The three hosts, from Slate magazine, discuss politics. This was the podcast I subscribed to in my 2008 Senior Seminar where I required a political podcast subscription.
    • Say it Plain: Great African American Oratory: This podcast focuses on the great speeches of African American orators. I've had many students select speeches from this podcast for rhetorical analysis.
    • The Speeches of President John F. Kennedy: The title is descriptive and the speeches are recordings of the actual speeches given by Kennedy. The podcast is produced by the John F. Kennedy library.
    • Truth Seekers: Its blurb states, "The search for truth about politics, global affairs, sex, money, religion, gender & sexuality audio form!"

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  1. Educational:

    Educational podcasters have information and knowledge they want to share. These podcasters can be college professors, experts in their field, or “everyday people.” Educational podcasts can be good supplements to class texts or good examples to critique and analyze or they may be used to inspire other educational podcasts. Many educational podcasts fit into other categories too, and many other podcasts on this page could fit into this category. I selected a few that are great examples, but outside our traditional writing, media, and rhetoric categories.

    • Astronomy cast (a very popular podcast): "Astronomy Cast takes a fact-based journey through the cosmos as it offers listeners weekly discussions on astronomical topics ranging from planets to cosmology" (from website).
    • Get-It-Done Guy: This is a time management podcast with quick and dirty tips to work less and do more.
    • The "Fastest, Easiest, and Most Fun Way" to learn Japanese (from website).
    • Jordanian Arabic Language Lessons: "A series of Arabic language lessons designed for Peace Corps Volunteers and students gives listeners the basics of the language. Peace Corps' Coverdell World Wise Schools provides free educational materials based on the Peace Corps Volunteer experience" (from website).
    • Money Girl: Quick and dirty tips for a richer life.
    • Legal Lad: Quick and dirty tips for a more lawful life.
    • Mr. Manners: Quick and dirty tips for a more polite life.
    • Nutrition Diva: Quick and dirty tips for eating well and feeling fabulous.
    • The Math Dude: Quick and dirty tips to make math easier.
    • Talking Traffic: "Traffic, Transportation, and Mobility Issues for the Everyday Person" (from website). Good information on how traffic and transportation work. [Disclaimer: This is my husband's podcast.]

  2. Instructions, How-Tos, and Tutorials:

    These may be good for technical writing or technical communication students or classes or any class where writing to instruct is important.

  3. Interviews:

    Good in classes where interviews, whether podcast or not, are a component. These can also be used as examples for analysis and genre studies. If students could do an interview podcast for a project (or are required to), these may be good texts and examples.

    • By Women. For Women: “These podcasts feature interviews with current Seal Press authors and the topics range from childbirth options to dealing with the death of a parent, from the issues facing transgender women today to training for a marathon” (from website).
    • CreativeXpert Design Interviews: A "podcast series featuring interviews with web designers & other creative peeps" (from website).
    • Dragon Page: Cover to Cover: "Conversations with the creators of the best in science fiction and fantasy. If you love SF literature, are an author or aspire to become one, you'll enjoy this podcast" (from website).
    • 5 Minutes with Wichita: "Humorous Interviews with Bluegrass Stars and stuff" (from website). This series seems to have stopped but the short, quick interviews are funny and shows good interview techniques.
    • Small World: Bazooka Joe interviews everyday people. This series also shows good interview techniques.

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Other Interesting Podcasts

  1. Storytelling—science fiction, novels, and other forms:

    • Escape Pod: A Sci-Fi short story podcast magazine. Very popular. [Disclaimer: I was a reader for one of these, with the (now) past editor, Stephen Eley. If you are interested the story is EP169: How I Mounted Goldie, Saved My Partner Lori, and Sniffed Out The People's Justice.  It is rated R, so if that bothers you feel free to go with another podcast or other Escape Pod episodes (most are G or PG).
    • Pseudopod: A short story horror podcast.
    • Podcastle: A fantasy short story podcast.
    • Infected: This is one of many podcast novels by Scott Sigler. The book is also in print form. The novel is in the horror genre, and language in the novel and site is not appropriate for all ages. Sigler was the first to podcast a novel, and has done so successfully, becoming a New York Times best seller from the audience he gathered podcasting and the resulting book contracts. This or one of his other novels may be good for classes where students analyze genre, remediation, the evolution of media, or writing for publication. Find out more and about his other podcast novels on Sigler's site.
    • 12 Byzantine Rulers: "This history lecture podcast covers the little known Byzantine Empire through the study of twelve of its greatest rulers" (from website). This is a good example of a complete series and shows how even things that could seem boring can be made interesting.
* Podfaded: The fading of a podcast that eventually leads to the series stopping, often without warning. Episodes may become less and less frequent and then stop.