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  • Writer's pictureChanell Alexander

10 education podcasts you need to listen to in 2021

Updated: May 4, 2021

Remember attending conferences, in-person workshops, and networking events to stay current on education trends? It seemed as if professional growth and development couldn’t happen without paying for a pricey ticket or traveling to another city.

Essentially, you had to be in the right place at the right time. Learning has since become a lot more flexible.

Now, thanks to great content—especially blogs (those "Top X Education Trends in [Insert Year]” articles provide a helpful macro view)—educational trends are much easier to track on your own. But another medium has risen to offer monthly and even weekly trending insights into the educational sector: the podcast.

Sure, they may be your entertainment medium of choice when it comes to a murder mystery or current world events. Have you considered the ways in which professional growth and development are accessible in podcast form?

True, the medium has received a lot of hype. But podcasts can efficiently provide the information you need about education from the industry's most prominent and informative thought leaders—in either a daily or weekly form.

There’s much to learn from experts sharing their thoughts in conversation, and many professionals recognize that.

Podcasts: Swiftly Becoming the Medium of Choice

As of December 2020, Apple podcasts (the most popular platform for accessing podcasts) hosts 1.68 million podcasts. Almost four out of 10 people have listened to podcasts within the last month, which represents a five percent increase compared to December 2019. (Many of us may not have commutes, but we still need to wind down and find inspiration.)

Image: An infographic highlighting podcast user data from Statista (Source: Oberlo).

Listenership is growing and becoming more consistent, which points to people finding increasing value in this form of content. This trend is likely due to several factors—a major one being that listeners are looking to learn something. Whether it’s sharpening a new skill, understanding an emerging concept, or getting the lowdown from an expert, 75 percent of podcast listeners cite learning as the medium’s main draw.

Also, podcasts enable listeners to learn while multitasking, which adds to its appeal. Sixty-four percent of individuals check out podcasts in cars, nearly six in 10 listen while engaging in housework, and 50 percent are tuning in while cooking or baking. Exercise falls lower on the list, but we know it’s popular for athletes of all stripes in training. (Ever run a half marathon on a treadmill before? Podcasts will get you through!)

Fortunately, in the education sector several podcasts are providing practical, applicable insights and thought-provoking ideas.

Education-Focused Podcasts Can Fill Knowledge Gaps

In a way, podcast hosts can become virtual mentors. A series can offer a variety of focus areas, such as career advice, a deep insight into trends and technologies, or relevant newsworthy stories in the sector. School leaders can hear case studies aloud from those who have experienced them directly; teachers can get ideas for project-based learning or lessons that will promote social-emotional learning from others who’ve tested them out in their classrooms; higher ed administrators and academic leaders can gauge whether their portfolios are sustainable and responsive to students’ needs.

Ultimately, there’s a wealth of knowledge that you can pick up from this media platform, and fortunately there are many listening options out there.

To jumpstart your search, we’ve assembled a list of high-value educational podcasts. While this list is not exhaustive, these shows can help you invest in your own professional growth and development.

Here are ten stellar podcasts that can provide value for your educational career and some practical inspiration for your day-to-day work:

A brand known to many in the education space, the Getting Smart podcast shares insights into K-12, higher ed, and lifelong learning topics. Host Tom Vander Ark explores the advancement of education through interviews with top educators and thought leaders. Recent notable guests include Society for Science, CEO Maya Ajmera, and New York Times bestselling author, Jeff Selingo. Vander Ark is a thought leader and virtual mentor to many, leading a team that produces top quality content and resources to a diverse group of clients. (Since 2017, Founders Marketing has served Getting Smart on a variety of short- and long-term projects.)

What are the current needs of today’s students, and how are they changing? The Teaching Matters: NPR podcast explores this question with host Scott Titsworth, dean of the Scripps College of Communications at Ohio University. The series explores the impact teaching methods, influential educational organizations, and innovative curriculum strategies have on student learning through interviews and the examination of educational data. Titsworth regularly invites and interviews influential voices from higher education and nonprofit organizations.

Paul Fain, an author and contributing editor at Inside Higher Ed, takes the reins on this in-depth look at America’s higher education landscape. Fain is an expert on postsecondary education and the workforce, and this podcast is known for showcasing frank and candid conversations with higher education leaders and changemakers on how colleges and universities handle emerging and urgent issues. Recent episodes address managing student well-being and mental health, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on college athletics, and meeting the needs of working students.

A partner to organizations that promote growth and innovation in higher ed, the rpk GROUP seeks to spark meaningful dialogue with leaders both within and outside of higher education. Hosted by founder and senior partner Rick Staisloff, the rpk GROUP’s Mission, Market, and Margin® podcast spotlights the intersection of financial resources, sustainability and student success in higher education—areas in which its team actively contributes through their work with a variety of institutions and major funders, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation. (In 2019, rpk GROUP and Founders Marketing embarked upon an ongoing partnership.)

On Twitter: @rstaisloff, @rpk_GROUP

Technology is having as much of an impact within the classroom as it is outside of it. Christopher J. Nesi, influential educator and trainer, developed the House of EdTech podcast to explore how technology changes the way teachers teach and the resulting impact on student learning. Episodes highlight edtech trends, educational tools, conference updates, and interviews with technologists and educators. If you’re looking to brush up on your #edtech knowledge, then this is a podcast to add to your subscriptions.

On Twitter: @HouseofEdTech, @mrnesi

How do the complex worlds of education, culture, and politics intersect? Hosts Don Wettrick, founder of the StartedUp Foundation, and Jamal Crook explore pertinent daily issues and how they impact the world of education and those within it—specifically, K-12 teachers and students. Their conversations address the overlapping world of education, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Topics covered include a look at the importance of diversity in education and the intersection of business and education.

On-air since 2011, the Teachercast Podcast is one of the longest-running educational podcast shows. It is a one-stop-shop for educational professionals who want to remain current on a variety of educational trends. From digital learning to addressing the growing achievement gap, host Jeff Bradbury explores a diverse collection of topics through discussions with the industry’s most well-informed educational leaders.

School is officially in session for teachers who want to increase their professional growth and development, and stay current on innovative teaching methods. Host Jennifer Gonzalez steps into the role of virtual mentor to empower and educate teachers on engaging students in the classroom. Gonzalez discusses the latest K-12 teaching, classroom management, and edtech strategies with educators, administrators, parents, and even students. Her techniques and advice are practical and handy, as displayed by this pinned Twitter post advising teachers on how to cut their grading time in half:

What if you could surface all the quick-but-impactful conversations that happen about education on Twitter and round them up into a podcast? Educational professionals Tom Whitby, Shelly Sanchez, and Steven Anderson have done just that. This group puts together a weekly podcast that addresses topics covered during lively #EdChat discussions on Twitter. From student mental health to professional development, listeners to this show are in for a wide array of the latest educational trends, challenges and developments.

On Twitter: @tomwhitby, @ShellTerrell, @web20classroom (Steven Anderson)

Who doesn’t like a good TED Talk? These shows have almost felt like virtual classrooms for adults. As the acronym’s middle letter stands for “Education,” it makes sense that TED Talks would aim to support listeners’ learning. The TED Talks Education podcast is a collection of TED Talks from the sector's most innovative educators, researchers, and community leaders who discuss current issues and events in the education community. Again, school is in session. Who knows? You may even find your next virtual mentor or professional growth and development experience through this podcast.

On Twitter: @TEDTalks

Educational Industry Insights Made Accessible for the Masses

Industry insights that were once only accessible to those attending workshops and conferences can now be listened to at any time thanks to the range and reach of podcasts. You may find your next teaching strategy, assessment tool, entrepreneurial idea, or trend breakdown by checking out one of the above podcasts.

Who knew that an audio show could educate a sector of professionals on topics like the future of postsecondary or K-12 education in America? Fortunately, we live in a time when this is possible. So, start 2021 right with some new tools in your professional development toolbox by checking out a podcast that speaks to your interests and needs.



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