Generally speaking, History students are assessed through essays. Short essays, long essays, dissertation essays, exam essays, essays, essays. Lecturers might mix it up with the occasional presentation, but you get the drill. So when my Crime and Punishment in African American History module stated that part of the assessment would be taking the form of a group podcast, I was instantly intrigued. What was this madness?
A podcast is a digital file taking either an MP3 (audio) format, or an MP4 (visual and audio) format. Unlike the formal and slightly rigid structure an essay would take, podcasts can be more creative; we are allowed to take the style of a round table discussion, an interview, a news report- there are lots of possibilities! The podcast will last around fifteen minutes and will probably be recorded through a clever program called Audacity which we were shown how to use in our workshop this week. After my Media A-level, I thought my days wearing microphone headsets were over, but apparently not.
Whilst the chance to make a podcast is fun and quite exciting, we still need to take it seriously. We’re working in groups, so sharing the workload and pulling our weight is important so we don’t let each other down. So far, my group has decided on the topic for our podcast and started researching; we have decided to focus on the link between race and the death penalty in America, specifically using the 1987 court case of McCleskey v Kemp. Once we have gathered all our information, we will need to start meeting up more regularly to decide the style our recording will take, make prompts or a script to help us, and obviously actually record.
Overall, I think mixing up the way we’re assessed is a positive thing. Firstly, we will experience working in groups which helps us develop the transferable skill of teamwork that employers value highly (this also allows us to meet new people in third-year where we sadly haven’t got as much free time to socialize). Secondly, it allows us to learn how to use different programs such as Audacity which I wouldn’t have used if it wasn’t for the workshop. Thirdly, I’d personally prefer to make a podcast than deliver a presentation because if you make a mistake you can just delete it, and finally, I’m just generally a fan of variation and trying new things.
Kudos, History department.