December 10, 2018 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

There is a new learning tool on King’s campus: podcasts.

As part of his course, SOC3326: Sociology of Catastrophe, Dr. Derek Silva, Assistant Professor of Sociology, “saw a lot of value in using the podcasting method to help students deeply engage in course material in a new, interesting, and effective way.” He sees it “as a way to engage students in discussions about social issues in really rigorous, well-researched, and nuanced ways.”

The class has 25 students, most of whom are fourth-year sociology or criminology students. Each group of three-to-five students works together to script, produce, and edit a 20-30 minute podcast on a chosen topic related to catastrophe. Each of the produced podcasts also required a justification. Students have told Dr. Silva having a script was useful to connect their ideas. The justification demonstrated the student’s mastery of course material and how the topic related to course material covered throughout the semester.

“I recognized the amount of work students were putting into their podcasts. The podcasts were incredibly well-researched … clearly thought out, justified in relation to important course material, and executed with precision,” Dr. Silva says. “I think students are learning incredibly valuable skills that they can take with them when they leave King’s and enter the labour market – real, tangible skills like audio recording, editing and publishing,” Dr. Silva says.

The students involved have recognized the value of employing podcasts in an educational setting. “I have also been told that students think this is a really effective way to communicate typically esoteric and abstract ideas – like social and political theory – in an interesting and more ‘digestible’ way. I think these learning outcomes are absolutely vital to student success regardless of where they ultimately wind up – graduate school, professional school, public/private sector,” Dr. Silva says.

Dr. Silva knows a little something about podcasting, as he hosts a bi-weekly program called “What’s That Noise?” with Dr. Tommy Cooke, a former part-time sociology professor at King’s. The podcast, available on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify, “focuses on ‘clarifying the noise,’ around a variety of topics relevant to sociology, surveillance, and criminology,” Dr. Silva explains. “We have focused on a wide range of social issues, but find ourselves focusing on important topics such as big data, privacy, algorithmic logic and machine learning, and surveillance. The whole premise of the show is to open up discussion on a variety of topics with other scholars, researchers, community leaders, musicians, or ‘noisemakers’ of all kinds.”

The podcast, What’s That Noise?, can be found at