Podcasts and video podcasts (sometimes called vodcasts) can be a great tool in the ITGS classroom. Many podcasts cover the latest technology releases, but it is essential that ITGS students have lots of practice understanding, analysing, and evaluating the social impacts of technology on society. This is especially important in preparation for the paper 2 exam and the long-answer paper 1 questions. The four podcasts below also offer analysis of impact of technology on society, making them perfect ITGS podcasts.
Podcast 1: Spark with Nora Young
The Spark podcast could have almost been produced specifically for ITGS. Spark focuses on the impact of technology on society and culture – which, of course, is exactly the aim of ITGS! I tend to find the stories covered in Spark are quite unique and not covered in other news media. For example, a segment in the latest episode, “Think you’re handy around the house? Not in the future, you’re not”, covers some of the potential drawbacks of smart home and home automation technology from an angle I haven’t seen covered before – very useful for the 2016 ITGS case study.
Other stories covered in recent episodes include the social impacts of police body cameras, predictive policing (both ITGS Politics and Government topics), wearable technology (ITGS Leisure), and the digital skills divide (ITGS Equality of Access).
Not every single topic covered in the podcast is directly related to ITGS (there are several segments on general science and technology), but the podcast’s homepage has a great contents page for each episode which can help you select the ITGS related resources quickly.
Podcast 2: BBC Click
Until I subscribed to the BBC Click podcast, I tended to forget about the BBC’s weekly technology programme, which is a shame because it includes a wealth of information which is very relevant to ITGS. Topics covered recently include the release of the “Zone 9” bloggers in Ethiopia (great for a discussion about freedom of speech in the ITGS politics and government strand), online extremism (good for digital citizenship), and the hack into US biometric data systems.
Click is a great podcast for ITGS students to subscribe to on their own phones and devices. The podcast is relatively short (around 30 minutes), well presented, and coming from the BBC you can be certain that the content will be suitable for young people. It is also available worldwide, with no geographical restrictions.
One drawback of Click is that it only has the last four or five episodes available to download, which means you can miss important stories. However, this approach does ensure that the stories your ITGS students will listen to are up to date. There is also nothing to stop you downloading and keeping the MP3 files if you find a particularly good episode.
Podcast 3: NPR
National Public Radio’s technology podcast page highlights the best podcast content from its various programmes. Like the other podcasts listed here, the NPR podcasts don’t typically cover the latest and greatest technology releases, but instead focus on in-depth stories which analyse the impact and effect of technology on society. Personally I find this the more useful approach for teaching ITGS lessons. Topics covered in recent podcasts include reprogramming car computer systems (ITGS security issues and several others), technological systems for railway / railroad safety (ITGS Business – Transportation), fighting online bullying (Digital citizenship), and social media for political campaigns.
Podcast 4: Security Now
As the name suggests, the Security Now podcast focuses on security issues and developments in the world of technology. Topics covered in recent episodes include ad blocking and tracking (and the associated privacy and security issues), malware, security holes in Android phones, and virtual private networks (VPNs).
There is a lot of very useful information here for both ITGS teachers and the more advanced ITGS students. Security Now episodes are usually long (often 2 hours or more) and presenters Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte do tend to go off on tangents at times. With this in mind, I have found it more useful to listen to the podcast as a teacher and select relevant segments to start discussions or activities in my ITGS class.
Creating podcasts for ITGS
Creating podcasts can also be a great ITGS activity. In the past I have had students work individually or in pairs to produce a weekly ‘ITGS news’ podcast, offering analysis of two or three news articles from the past week. This can be done on a rotational basis so a different pair of students present to the class each week. This is a great way to help students prepare for paper 2 by practising their analysis skills. Creating podcasts also offers practical experience in other areas of ITGS, including audio editing, file formats, and compression. Digital citizenship skills, including an understanding of copyright, licences, and appropriate citations can also be taught in this context. The Audacity sound editor and this list of sites to find ITGS news articles are two useful links to start your ITGS students on this activity.