8 Podcast Debate

Julie Stevens


Number of people involved:

Optional individual assignment or can be group based. Group size may vary depending on learning objectives (pairs, small or large group interaction and is scalable to class size (the assignment has been delivered in classes ranging from 30 to 100 student enrolment).

Amount of time scheduled for the activity

This course has been offered as either a 12-session (Fall or Winter term) or six-session (Spring term) online course. In either format, students create the podcast audio file on their own time. The assignment description is provided in the first week and the final product is due in the final week. In between students must submit a proposal that outlines their topic of choice, debate position statement, and a minimum of three key points, with support, for each of the ‘For’ and ‘Against’ sides of the position statement. Optional synchronous web conferencing sessions open for drop-in technical support are offered. Usually three sessions are adequate but additional sessions can be added depending on the number of students in the class and the length of the course. In addition, weekly web-conference academic support sessions are held through the course which can also provide content support to students as they prepare their podcast.

Intended Audience

Sport Management 4P97: Advanced Analysis of the Sport Industry: Hockey


Phase 1 Session 1: Podcast Assignment Introduced

Phase 2: Podcast Outline Due

  • TA support & Technical Support
  • Audio feedback from Instructor
  • Optional Peer Review, see section: Variations

Phase 3: Podcast Due

See Assignment Description

Example of activity

Exemplar debate topic: Is Hockey Canada’s Game?

Debate Position Statement: Hockey is no longer Canada’s Game

Student submission (shared with permission): Rachel Ivey’s “My Hockey Podcast”

Connections to the literature

The assignment aligns with the three categories of CAST’s (2018) Universal Design for Learning framework: providing multiple means of engagement, multiple means of representation, and multiple means of action and expression. By changing the standard written essay into an audio-based debate, students are given the opportunity to express themselves in a different modality, in a way that is an authentic, real-world task.

The best podcasts have good production values, and most importantly, generate interest and establish a connection one’s intended audience. In addition, the podcast assignment incorporates both content and conceptual elements and employability skills, such as teamwork, communication and technological literacy (Armstrong, Tucker & Massad, 2009).

The assignment balances flexibility and control so that the students can engage with a choice of content that motivates and interests them, but the creation process is structured enough with checkpoints for frequent guidance and feedback to allow a scaffolded instructional approach (Ambrose et al, 2010).

A podcast outline was required. The assessment for the outline was low-stakes, as marks were not allocated but rather deducted from the final podcast assignment if the outline was not submitted. This created a ‘low-stakes’ learning environment where students could work through their podcast debate topic idea and receive qualitative feedback based on the rubric. The feedback was audio recorded by the instructor (4-5 minutes of commentary) and provided to each student group through the learning management system, or LMS (sakai).

Ways in which the plan addresses democratization

Democratization is best achieved when opposing ideas are free to be expressed, negotiated, and explored. The goal of the assignment is to utilize a debate format to discuss an issue related to the culture or business of hockey, and also to present the discussion as a podcast. Podcasts are a medium for communication and a new, enhanced means of expressing information. The assignment follows a “dialectic approach” – which means students present a primary view and an alternate view (Rao, 2010).

The specific choice of debate, as discussed below, allows students to engage with multiple perspectives as part of a thorough and scholarly process (Rao, 2010). Chikeleze, Johnson and Gibson’s (2018) literature review and preliminary research findings indicate scholarly debate can improve communication and critical thinking skills. Further, they indicate that this type of assignment generates soft skills that employers seek from higher education graduates.


This dialectic approach can be used for almost any content where you want students to explore multiple perspectives of any given concept.

Two pedagogical options for sharing the podcast in a manner that extends beyond the initial submission include:

  1. Learner Reflection – after submission, each group member reflects, reviews and submits as short written assignment;
  2. Peer feedback – peer evaluation can improve the quality of student work by giving students the opportunity to be reflective on the criteria and improve based on peer feedback (Ching-Wen, Pearman, & Farha, 2010).

How to build the activity in SAKAI

The instructions and assignment use the lessons tool in the LMS (sakai), embedding video instructions, and text. The equipment used to create the podcasts are available in the library MakerSpace for loan. As this course is online, there is online support via LifeSize available from the MakerSpace staff in the library, and from the teaching support staff (teaching assistants) assigned to work with the instructor for the course.

Assignments were submitted through the LMS assignment tool. It is recommended to keep the podcast time limit to 10 minutes. Imposing a maximum of ten minutes has many advantages. For the learner, it is a manageable size to create an engaging and meaningful piece of work. For their peers, the brevity allows for students to listen to quite a few podcasts (should a peer review element be incorporated) and still get a good overview of the topics. The time limit also ensures file sizes are not too large for uploading and downloading or streaming.

If the optional peer review phase is built-in, the assignment tool in the LMS has a workflow to include formal peer assessment. Creating a student page in Lessons or posting in Forums could also be a convenient and effective way to have students informally share their podcasts.

Other technology needed for the plan:

  • Microphone
  • Audacity (audio editor)
  • LifeSize (optional extra tech support)



Ambrose, S. A., Lovett, M., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. Jossey-Bass; San Francisco, CA.

Armstrong, G., Tucker, J., & Massad, V. (2009). Interviewing the experts: Student produced podcasts. Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, Vol. 8 Accessed November 26, 2018 from http://www.jite.informingscience.org/documents/Vol8/JITEv8IIP079-090Armstrong333.pdf.

CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved November 19, 2018 from http://udlguidelines.cast.org.

Ching-Wen, C., Pearman, C., & Farha, N. (2010). P2P: Assessing a peer evaluation strategy. Journal of Educational Technology Development & Exchange, 3(1), 69–84.

Chikeleze, M., Johnson, I., & Gibson, T. (2018). Let’s argue: Using debate to teach critical thinking and communication skills to future leaders. Journal of Leadership Education, 17(2), 123–137.

Rao, P. (2010).  Debates as a pedagogical learning technique: empirical research with business students. Multicultural Education and Technology Journal, 4(4), 234-250.