The Best of Continuing Studies: What We've Learned in 2023

[00:00:00] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: Welcome to Continuing Studies, a podcast for higher education podcasters. In each episode, we talk to a university podcaster to ask some questions, get answers and share tips and ideas about higher education podcasting. Hi, I'm Jennifer Lee. I'm a radio broadcaster and a podcaster.
[00:00:20] Neil McPhedran: And I'm Neil McPhedran.
[00:00:21] I've come to podcasting after 25 years in the digital agency world. Together, we've hosted, executive produced, and launched seven, and counting, higher education podcasts. Please remember to follow Continuing Studies in your listening app of choice and drop us a rating and or review. We'd love to hear your feedback. While you're at it, also join the University Podcaster Network on LinkedIn.
[00:00:49] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: Well, that has been a year. Welcome back to Continuing Studies. Today, Neil and I are going to take you through all our favorite episodes. Which, of course, are all of them, and we learned so much this year. So, we're going to take a look back. How are you feeling about it, Neil?
[00:01:05] Neil McPhedran: I'm, I'm really liking this. We're going to bring in some voices that, uh, we heard throughout our first year with our Continuing Studies podcast.
[00:01:15] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: So, grab a beverage if you don't have one already. I'm thinking like a hot chocolate and a Bailey's or something.
[00:01:22] Neil McPhedran: That's a good idea. I like that. Or enjoy your brisk walk.
[00:01:25] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: Yeah, I forgot. People listen to podcasts while walking too. I was just associating, you know, getting cozy by a fire, drinking something, but drinking responsibly, you know.
[00:01:37] But before we dive in, I actually have a question for you, Neil. Okay. It doesn't have to be a specific episode, but what was your favorite part of doing this this year?
[00:01:46] Neil McPhedran: Wow. That's a good question. Um, I think my favorite part was being on the other side of the mic. You get to do this with some of the other podcasts you're [00:02:00] on but this is the only podcast that I am actually on and I've really enjoyed the process, and I've learned from you and learned a lot by doing this which I've been able to apply for my day job of working with other podcasts.
[00:02:16] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: I like it. Good answer. It means that we can have another season.
[00:02:19] Neil McPhedran: Okay, good. I'm glad I got that one right.
[00:02:20] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: You got it right.
[00:02:22] Neil McPhedran: What's your favorite?
[00:02:23] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: We met a year and a half ago now at the podcast conference in Dallas. And so, it's been really cool to work on this. Obviously, we work with different clients together but work on this project and get to know a lot more about our clients in the university and college space, but then also meet a lot of new people in the space as well. There we go.
[00:02:43] Neil McPhedran: Agreed. Okay, let's jump into this. So vast majority, I think we tried to pick were key takeaways for how to use a podcast in a higher education space.
[00:02:55] Our first two are probably just more practical for podcasters. And our first key takeaway was actually from our first episode, episode one. With Jenny Luna from Stanford Graduate School of Business and she dove into titling. The strategy that they employ and some really useful takeaways I think for us in titling and specifically how to think about your titling strategy and think about the listener [00:03:30] in their app, scrolling down their app and how they're going to pick an episode.
[00:03:35] Jenny Luna: I think very strategically about how to title each episode. I think about my behavior as a podcast listener and I very seldomly go listen to the first episode and then the second episode and then the third episode when I discover a podcast. I scroll through like a menu, and I decide what do I want to order?
[00:03:52] Oh, and I usually make that decision two ways. Do I recognize the name of the person and I like this person's work and I want to hear more from them? Or is there a promise of a learning or a takeaway that this episode has that I want more of in my life? So, we use the how to model when we title our episodes.
[00:04:10] I think a lot of times in these podcast titles, you're promising that you're going to improve their lives in some way. You're going to help them solve a problem. And I think that people are using podcasting as really this, I'm taking a walk, but I'm also improving my life. I'm doing my dishes, but I'm also gaining insight on how I can be better at work. So, I think really playing into [00:04:30] that can help the content do well.
[00:04:31] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: Well, podcasting is the new self-help book, essentially, because a lot of people don't like to read anymore. So, it's a self help book in an audio form. And like you said, you can do it anywhere.
[00:04:42] Neil McPhedran: But to combine the two things’ you guys just said, self help and Jenny, you call it the menu. So, we got my menu for self help. I like that.
[00:04:49] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: We had another lovely guest from Stanford. Laura, she is part of the Stanford Storytelling Project, and she talks about finding your voice in podcasting, which I think pertains to anyone in the podcasting space.
[00:05:04] Neil McPhedran: What episode was that again, Jen?
[00:05:05] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: Episode 7. Take a listen.
[00:05:07] Laura Joyce Davis: Podcasting really helped me to find my voice. In fiction writing, there's a lot of talk about finding your voice. What does it mean to find your voice as a writer? For 20 years, I thought I knew what that meant, but I actually didn't.
[00:05:20] And I think what podcasting taught me that I try to pass on to every student I have is finding your voice on and off the page means sounding exactly like you. And there might be things about your voice both in speaking and in writing. That maybe you don't even like, but you can turn those things into something that actually gives your voice some personality and flavor and and is authentically you in a way that people are going to respond to because they can feel that it's real.
[00:05:54] We'll teach you the nuts and bolts of this, but even more importantly is what is that experience like for you to witness somebody else's story when you're sitting down to interview them? And you know, you have your list of interview questions. You could just ask them those questions, that's fine. But an even more interesting way to do that interview is to prompt them to speak in scenes.
[00:06:14] You're a character, the people you're interviewing are characters. We don't want to make them, you know, bloodless. And if they say some crazy thing that's funny or just kind of charming, that's a great thing to keep in.
[00:06:27] Neil McPhedran: Okay, so, Jen, we actually had two guests that are alumni podcasters targeted at alumni. The first one is Kate. She was actually in our episode 2 and she's with the This is Purdue podcast and she talked to us about taking advantage of your existing wider network to grow your audience.
[00:06:54] Kate Young: Take advantage and try to. Network. You know, we have a Purdue for life is our alumni connection group and organization within Purdue. So, I partner with them and I'm like, can you add this episode to your newsletter? Can you embed this video or this episode here? So, get other people involved with sharing it on their social networks, in their newsletters. Really anywhere that, that you can, you know, get it.
[00:07:18] We're taking these stories featuring professors who are doing amazing things, students, some of our athletics coaches who are leading these really successful athletics [00:07:30] teams at Purdue, and we're kind of, we're building on that brand awareness of Purdue, but it's also really geared towards our alumni. Certain episodes are appealing to students, you know, whether we're featuring student organizations, letting everyone know what's going on campus.
[00:07:45] The athletics partnership that we have is really strong. So, we're working with them and I'm saying, hey, just did this interview with the former Purdue quarterback. He was in the NFL for 14 years. Can you put this on your homepage? And then bam, the downloads are, are [00:08:00] coming in because people are going to buy tickets on the site or they're looking at the latest scores and they see that podcast. So, getting our campus partners involved and, and having them share with their networks and their people has really grown the show as well.
[00:08:12] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: Another person that had great school spirit, like Kate, is John. He's episode number nine. And if you listen to the episode, you'll realize that he bleeds orange. He loves his school, but he loves to promote it in a way that people say, don't go out of your [00:08:30] lane. And he's like, no, I want to be able to spread the word about Syracuse University in this podcast.
[00:08:35] John Boccacino: We're not the Datelines, you know, with Keith Morrison out there. Shout out to Keith, one of my favorite, both podcasters and reporters out there, but we're telling stories and, and however it resonates, however you're able to connect with your audience, you know, that's really what it comes down to. And knowing your audience, like I had someone tell me that you need to focus in, you should do a separate podcast just for students and a separate one just for alumni [00:09:00] and a separate one just for faculty and staff. And I was like, well, I don't like splintering the audience up. I mean, I feel like it helps to be able to cross promote, so that the students might be like, I heard that Jay Henderson is doing this great research and that's my passion. I'm going to take his class next year. Like that's the way you spread the community and take it beyond just listening. You make it be an applicable action that people care about.
[00:09:27] Neil McPhedran: Okay, Jen. So, the next sort of main theme that we covered off actually through a lot of different episodes was using podcasting as an educational tool itself.
[00:09:39] Dave and Gelareh in episode four, talk about how they use podcasting as case studies. So, case studies are key within most business programs, and instead of the sort of regular way to do case studies, which is written, they're using podcasts and podcast interviews for, for their case studies. [00:10:00] Really interesting.
[00:10:00] Dave Keighron: When Gelareh and I set out on this journey to the Innovation Fuel podcast, we both struggled with the idea of how do we get more students with more problems in the classroom that are actually applicable to them and their future? The challenge that we see out there is a lot of business cases are written on big organizations and they really represent what the students are going to do after graduation.
[00:10:20] How do we get more of those individuals that are experiencing some of these challenges and bringing them into a conversation and then creating those relevant business cases that we can then bring back [00:10:30] into our courses so students can get real application? We started doing internships and capstones from these things, we started to build further relationships with the business community around us. Not only were we helping solve those problems with our students in the classroom, but we then brought that further.
[00:10:43] Gelareh Farhadian: That was very important for me as an immigrant because that is the biggest challenges for international students to find a real, right, a right network to connect with and make sure, put a spotlight on my students and show them how great they are by connecting them to [00:11:00] real local business owners. When they have to understand the real business here, it's maybe different from their home country and how they can solve it and how they can show competency and talents to local clients.
[00:11:14] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: Another podcaster that uses their podcast as an educational tool is Craig. Craig actually has turned one of his textbooks into a podcast. So, it was interesting because he talks a lot about how the students actually listen to the podcast and it does help them, uh, study better for tests. So, let's listen to that, and that is episode six.
[00:11:40] Craig Van Slyke: I co- author a textbook, Information Systems for Business and Experiential Approach, and I thought, you know, maybe we could have a podcast for the book, where I take and just kind of get to the essence of each chapter. I know most of your listeners are going to be in higher ed, I don't want to shock anybody, but students don't like to read. I know I'm going to give that a minute just to [00:12:00] sink in. I know that's a big surprise. I mean, I'm old, but it was nothing for us to have 50 or 75 pages of reading per class. Well, it just doesn't fly these days, so I wanted to find a way, even though our book is designed to be easy to consume, it can always be easier.
[00:12:17] It's not a substitute for reading the book, but it helps reinforce everything that's in there. And it may even prod them to read the books. But it does help that student that's really taking a lot of classes or trying to work part time, you know, all that sort [00:12:30] of thing. And it's one more way they can get the content as they're coming in to hear the lecture, they're getting ready to prep for a test, whatever it is they're doing, it's that one more touch point.
[00:12:39] Neil McPhedran: Our next theme was accessibility. Really at the end of the day, making education accessible beyond the walls and the classroom of, of these, uh, fine institutions. Back to Craig again, we actually had Craig on for two episodes. So, in episode five, Craig talks a lot about [00:13:00] using academia to reach the practitioner world. And really, you know, you've got these great scholarly dissertations and research, but using a podcast to take that deep academia so it can be usable.
[00:13:15] Craig Van Slyke: In my field, we've been having conversations for 25 plus years about relevance. You know, is our research relevant to business? And, you know, largely the answer is no a lot of the times. Well, here's a way where we can make it relevant to [00:13:30] business. And so, there is absolutely a huge gap. We're in some small way trying to plug that gap. It occurred to me that really, we could use a podcast for our Information Assurance Center at Louisiana Tech University. And that, that's just a fancy way to say cyber security. So, we, we focus on behavioral aspects of cyber security.
[00:13:47] And one of the things that we want to do is kind of help people that are out there having to practice security. Listen to what's coming out of the academic research world. And I don't know if you've ever tried to read an academic [00:14:00] research paper, to say they're thick and boring and detailed would be a gross understatement. And so, what we try to do with Cyber Ways, is it's a vehicle for us to get the word out about this cutting-edge cybersecurity research.
[00:14:14] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: And Brandon, I loved it because he's big into making sure that education is accessible for everyone. And there is no barriers, no gatekeepers. And that is episode 10.
[00:14:26] Brandon Stover: So, a big critique that I have of higher [00:14:30] education is that all of this wonderful knowledge is gatekeeped. Not everyone is getting access to this. I also want to make education free to as many people as possible. And so that means putting it out in a medium that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, many of the other educational institutions have leaned into YouTube and sometimes put out some of their content. But as I was mentioning earlier, when I was sitting in the office, I had the ability to listen to podcasts and start learning when I was [00:15:00] still doing other things, I wasn't, I didn't have to be sitting there in front of the computer to be doing that. Now as I go through my life, I often turn on a podcast as I'm cooking or, you know, walking to the gym or whatever to continue that learning. So, I see podcasting as a medium that could reach a larger scale than what our educational institutions are doing now, that is the benefit to the listener.
[00:15:24] Neil McPhedran: Our next theme that came out from a couple of episodes this past year was podcast networks. Jenna, in episode 8, dove into strength in numbers and leveraging the network and the strength of the whole versus what a single podcast can achieve.
[00:15:44] Jenna Spinelle: We have had some success on the cross promotion front working with larger organizations or people that have bigger platforms, kind of major media outlets, that, that any one of our shows on their own might not have enough of [00:16:00] an audience size or reach to make a cross promotion feasible. But as a network, if you add up the, the audiences of all of our shows, we do. And so that's something where there is strength in numbers. You know, being able to pool our resources to go after larger opportunities like that.
[00:16:18] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: And Matt, who obviously we have a soft spot for, he hung out with us in Denver. We love him, he is also known as aka the podcast killer because he is a brutal [00:16:30] when it comes to letting people know if they've got a great idea for a podcast, or they should just stick to their day job.
[00:16:38] Matt Hoddap: I think sometimes people overthink this stuff. They go, creating a network, and it's just creating one overbrand and putting that brand on all the products, and that's like the baseline version. You could make it more complicated than that, but it doesn't have to be. And so, I think the network was helpful long term in hiring that assistant producer and possibly even, you know, more people down the line.
[00:16:58] But because we have this network, [00:17:00] the whole campus community knows that it exists. They know that there are some resources that they would like to tap into. So, I think it's helpful in that branding sense for your own internal community to know, hey, there's a thing that the university is doing and they're taking it seriously enough to put a brand on it. They're taking it seriously enough to have someone working on it, and so your departments should also take this seriously. If you are beginning to think about a podcast, it forces you, because this network exists, you can't just think like, uh, we'll just sort of like, you know, [00:17:30] you can't just like, mess around and say like, oh, we'll see what will happen with it.
[00:17:33] You have this stressor of there's this official thing, and we need to either live up to that or not, and maybe it means you don't make the podcast, and if you don't, maybe you weren't supposed to make it in the first place. But it at least creates that pressure across campus for people to think more seriously when they're thinking about podcasts and to create that, create that infrastructure.
[00:17:52] Neil McPhedran: Okay, next, let's talk about using different podcast episodes for different audiences. I thought [00:18:00] this was super interesting in episode 11. Jessica dove into this when we were talking to her about analytics and it really kind of made me think about things a bit differently. We're focused on building that one audience and wanting that one audience to tune into each episode, but she really helped us reframe that that strategy and think about, okay, well, actually, a specific audience could be for episode X, and this other episode could be for audience Y. And I think that's a really great way [00:18:30] to frame up audiences in general and to sort of think at the micro level from an episode perspective.
[00:18:36] Jessica: We do look at the analytics, but to this point, we, that hasn't so much guided our selection process going forward. Partly because as I mentioned, you know, certain podcast episodes have opportunities to reach larger audiences, um, that don't necessarily have to do with the topic that we cover but have to do with the author having [00:19:00] connections across her field. And so, professors put the podcast episode on their syllabi or having a museum that's receptive to the idea of including that in the digital component of their exhibition.
[00:19:10] And, you know, the truth is that most of our podcasts get to about the, about the 2000 download benchmark, which, you know, we've been satisfied with. And what's amazing too about the, about the download metrics is that it's just not possible that the same people who [00:19:30] are listening to a podcast about mid century textile designer are listening to a pod, well, not that it's not possible. It seems very unlikely to me that it's not the same people downloading every episode. It's a rare person who would go out and buy every single book published by Yale University Press. We don't expect that. We don't market the books that way. It's not all the same audience, and so the fact that we can, that that's sort of a baseline number for us. And that is just wonderful because I think we are reaching different audiences, which is exciting.
[00:19:58] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: And for episode three [00:20:00] with Laura, I love the fact that CDI College uses it as a recruiting tool because you really get to figure out what type of classes they offer, you get to see kind of like a day in the life of what their education is going to get you.
[00:20:14] Laura Guzman: We look at all the data and we realize that some of our best performing podcasts were the ones that had a component of either an alumni or a person within those particular industries [00:20:30] that we have. And so, we realized, and we decided, okay, this will be a good area for us to focus in. Okay, how can we. Spin this around and give a value added to our students and that's how the idea about career buzz came up to target our students and to give them an inside scoop of what it's like for an alumni or for a person that has been in the industry for an x amount of time to, to work in that industry. What is it like day [00:21:00] to day in all sorts of things like that?
[00:21:02] Neil McPhedran: That's a lot, Jen. It's incredible actually, all the people we talked to, I'm looking forward to even more episodes in 2024. I'm looking forward to networking and talking to more podcasters out there. If you're interested in hopping on Continuing Studies, please reach out, tune into the website. Everything's in the show notes below. Anything you want to end with, Jen?
[00:21:26] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: I am looking forward to the new year, interviewing more people [00:21:30] from awesome institutions and getting a free education, really, is what I like.
[00:21:33] Neil McPhedran: That's a good point. And I've actually, that's a great point about, about, about this podcast, actually. And I know it's a podcast intended for higher education learners, but, um, we, you know, I think any podcaster can learn a lot from the guests we have on.
[00:21:48] Jennifer-Lee Gunson: Like I said, we've gone to what, Yale, Stanford, this year? We're missing Harvard though. Maybe Harvard will be next year.
[00:21:55] Neil McPhedran: Next year. 2024. We've got to get Harvard on. Well, that's a wrap. Happy New Year, folks. [00:22:00]
[00:22:02] Thank you for tuning into the Continuing Studies Podcast, a podcast for higher education podcasters. We hope you found this episode informative and inspiring. If you enjoyed the show, we encourage you to follow and subscribe to our podcast on your preferred platform, so you'll never miss an episode.
[00:22:19] And if you've found this episode particularly valuable, please consider sharing it with your friends and colleagues who also might be interested in higher education podcasts. We also invite you [00:22:30] to join the University Podcasters Network group on LinkedIn. Just search for University Podcasters Network, where you can connect with other podcasters in higher education and learn from others in the field.
[00:22:41] Thank you for being part of our community. We look forward to continuing to bring you valuable insights and conversations around higher education podcasts. See you in the next episode.

Creators and Guests

Co-host and editor of HAVAN's podcast Measure Twice Cut Once/ Traffic Helicopter Reporter/Social Media & Marketing Manager for Euro Canadian
The Best of Continuing Studies: What We've Learned in 2023
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