SXSW EDU Live: Podcasting and Lesson Design
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Episode Show Notes
Recorded in the middle of SXSW EDU 2018 (South by Southwest Education), this episode features educator Rachel and engineer Pius. They discuss their immediate reactions to hosting two SXSW events this year, including insights on how to use podcasting for education and how to design lessons using empathic lead user analysis. Look out for future episodes from after the conference!
Our closing music is from “High School Snaps” by Broke for Free, used under a Creative Commons Attribution License.
Subscribe and leave episode reviews wherever you get your podcasts. Support Pios Labs with regular donations on Patreon, by purchasing digital teaching materials at the Pios Labs curriculum store, or by buying a copy of the reference book Engineer's Guide to Improv and Art Games by Pius Wong. You'll also be supporting educational tools and projects like Chordinates! or The Calculator Gator. Thanks to our donors and listeners for making the show possible. The K12 Engineering Education Podcast is a production of Pios Labs.
Pius Wong 0:00
Rachel Fahrig 0:01
Yeah, your light is on.
Pius Wong 0:03
I can -- When I talk, do you see my little bars go up?
Rachel Fahrig 0:06
They do. They go up and down.
Pius Wong 0:07
And when you talk, I see your bars go.
Rachel Fahrig 0:09
Oh, that's cool.
Pius Wong 0:10
Rachel Fahrig 0:11
We are on.
Pius Wong 0:14
We are live from South by Southwest EDU.
Rachel Fahrig 0:16
Pius Wong 0:18
Nice. Thank you for joining us.
Rachel Fahrig 0:20
Pius Wong 0:21
We're at the Hilton hotel, right?
Rachel Fahrig 0:23
Yeah, the Hilton Austin downtown.
Pius Wong 0:25
Yeah, across from the convention center.
Rachel Fahrig 0:27
Right across from where we just were.
Pius Wong 0:29
Stuff was happening.
Rachel Fahrig 0:31
There was meta stuff. Tell them what happened.
Pius Wong 0:34
So we just came from one of our sessions that we ran. It was the Podcasting for Education Meetup. Yes. And I don't think anyone has done an event like that at South by before, South by EDU.
Rachel Fahrig 0:43
Not that I'm aware of. If they have, I haven't gone to it.
Pius Wong 0:47
People said they didn't know about it, that this was a new thing.
Rachel Fahrig 0:50
And they had so many questions. As soon as they walked in, they were like, Okay, what what do we do? There were not enough chairs for everyone to sit in.
Pius Wong 1:00
There were like forty people who came in.
Rachel Fahrig 1:00
Pius Wong 1:01
They sat down, even though it was a meetup, thinking, like, oh, were we going to present information to them? No.
Rachel Fahrig 1:08
So, interesting. Number one, I wonder how the concept of a meetup has not, you know, really maybe been explained, or -- I thought more people would know what a meetup was. Like kind of what to expect.
Pius Wong 1:23
There were chairs set out, so maybe people just thought, I was walking around Austin for like, five hours, and I just want to sit. I don't know.
Rachel Fahrig 1:30
I don't know. Could be.
Pius Wong 1:31
I was satisfied. I was actually really impressed, because I met the hosts of Lab Out Loud. It's a podcast I listened to from the National Science Teachers Association.
Rachel Fahrig 1:40
Yes, that's the one that you told me to listen to with my son, not too long ago.
Pius Wong 1:45
Oh, no, that's that's Tumble podcast.
Rachel Fahrig 1:46
Both, though. Yeah.
Pius Wong 1:48
This one is for the adults in the room. Not that they cover adult stuff all the time.
Rachel Fahrig 1:52
Oh, yeah. Lab Out Loud.
Pius Wong 1:54
Dale and Brian, they have talked about sex education before and the science of that.
Rachel Fahrig 1:58
Well, but it's kind of necessary somewhere after maybe third or fourth grade.
Pius Wong 2:04
This is true. We can have that conversation.
Rachel Fahrig 2:06
It's a whole other thing for a whole other day.
Pius Wong 2:09
No, but it was really cool meeting them and talking to other people with podcasts, but the majority of the people there -- We asked the question in the beginning: How many people here have a podcast?
Rachel Fahrig 2:19
Or have a favorite right?
Pius Wong 2:20
They raised their hands, but it was only maybe like --
Rachel Fahrig 2:22
Pius Wong 2:23
20% of the room, something like that.
Rachel Fahrig 2:24
Yeah, about five or six people.
Pius Wong 2:27
Yeah, a lot of people were in the beginning stages of it.
Rachel Fahrig 2:30
I talked to, at the end, some elementary school teachers who want their kids to start podcasting.
Pius Wong 2:37
And they didn't come in with that idea, if I understood correctly.
Rachel Fahrig 2:40
Pius Wong 2:41
And then spread it around.
Rachel Fahrig 2:42
Yes. It went viral.
Pius Wong 2:44
She was a good salesman.
Pius Wong 2:45
Well, it's not easy to do. There is a lot of work.
Rachel Fahrig 2:45
Yes. But it's such a -- and we've talked about this on this podcast before -- that you can use podcasting to meet so many educational goals and standards. There's a component of literacy. There's a component of math. There's a component science, of technology, even -- you can tie in social studies, arts. If all of the kids are working on that same project, then all of the teachers involved are only looking at maybe their component of it or grading their component of it. Then a podcast that, say, takes three or four weeks to put together, you have, I don't know, twelve, fifteen, twenty grades coming out of it per kid across content areas. How brilliant is that? It's easy. It makes everyone's job easier.
Rachel Fahrig 3:17
Well, no, I'll backpedal on that one. Okay.
Pius Wong 3:43
So I did meet a lot of people who were starting to do podcasts, or they had already done podcasts, and they all agree that it is something they do on the side, because nobody's making the huge big bucks in education podcasting right now.
Rachel Fahrig 3:57
Pius Wong 3:57
But they do love it.
Rachel Fahrig 3:58
Yes, they do.
Pius Wong 3:59
They produce a lot of useful information. Going back to that table of educators who wanted to produce podcasts for kids, I spoke to one of the guys Jesus, and he was saying that they wanted to have their kids write out things to say first. It's was going to be a literacy exercise.
Rachel Fahrig 4:14
You have to have a script. Yup.
Pius Wong 4:15
And they were going to record. I was asking him, aren't there complexities about having little kids do podcasting? And I was wondering how that would go. So if he figures it out --
Rachel Fahrig 4:25
I know. I hope that people that came to our meetup stay in touch and really let us know what their progress has been, what they're working on, how it's going, and then be able to share that with other educators as well. Because, I mean, we talked to what -- thirty, forty people in there today, and that's such a small sampling of what the the larger education community looks like. These cannot be the only people in America who want to do podcasting with their students. So I think it could be really powerful, and I was really excited by it.
Pius Wong 5:03
Did you talk to anyone who had never done podcasting? And they were trying to find tips for starting?
Rachel Fahrig 5:09
Yes, and some of them were those elementary educators. There was a woman who came in at the very beginning. She just wanted -- even brainstorming ideas. What are some podcasting episode ideas? What do you even talk about? How do you know what to talk about? How do you know who to have on there? And so we had a pretty good conversation about that. And I just kind of blew some examples by her that we have done and the other local podcasts have done, as well.
Pius Wong 5:44
That would be a great opportunity to collaborate with English teachers. I saw a lot of teachers from different disciplines, too, over here. It wasn't just engineering.
Rachel Fahrig 5:52
Pius Wong 5:53
There was people with expertise in film. And they teach that audio visual stuff.
Rachel Fahrig 5:57
There was a high school principal.
Pius Wong 5:59
Oh, really? I didn't meet him. Or her.
Rachel Fahrig 6:00
Yeah, him. He's from out of state. And he wants his communications teachers or his speech teachers to be able to use podcasting as either a point of differentiation for that student who is super reluctant or really anxiety-ridden, who really would very much struggle with getting up and speaking in front of a group of people.
Pius Wong 6:26
It could be a stepping stone.
Rachel Fahrig 6:27
Exactly. But then we also talked about the idea that communication through electronic media happens still routinely on a daily basis when you watch the nightly news. Someone is sitting behind a desk, looking at a camera, telling you stories, but still somehow making a connection with you. And so it's sort of similar to podcasting, only, you know, it's got the visual aspect, but you can make that connection, even though you're not face-to-face with someone. And he thought that was a pretty good point, pretty powerful. And he hopes to kind of take that back to his staff and say, let's think about this as a solid component of our curriculum.
Pius Wong 7:14
Yeah. Coming back to those higher-level questions -- not the technology stuff right now -- It reminded me of one guy, I forget his name, but he was from the It Gets Better Project. And he was there to try to find out: Should they create podcasts by and for, you know, high schoolers and kids who are in the LGBTQ community?
Rachel Fahrig 7:33
That would be brilliant.
Pius Wong 7:34
He was trying to find out -- He said it like this. He's like, oh, his boss is super interested in this. He, himself, a little skeptical.
Rachel Fahrig 7:41
Pius Wong 7:41
He's trying to find out, is there really something there?
Rachel Fahrig 7:43
Pius Wong 7:44
And he wanted to know, are there podcasts by kids already for these different communities? What are the pitfalls? What are the struggles? They already have a big presence on YouTube on video where kids already are.
Rachel Fahrig 7:57
Pius Wong 7:57
And so we had a really good conversation about that. I was saying that it seems to me, video is more well-developed as a community. Something like YouTube, you can search for anything, whether it's, like, LGBT community videos for kids or for teens, or I want to learn about physics or something, you can find it so easily, and it'll suggest -- it'll recommend videos based on what you've seen or what you like.
Rachel Fahrig 8:23
Based on these results, or what you just watched.
Pius Wong 8:25
Podcasts -- There aren't as much of those technologies out.
Rachel Fahrig 8:28
Pius Wong 8:29
And so I was telling him, like, if you create a new podcast for a very targeted audience, it might be hard to get known.
Rachel Fahrig 8:38
It's in the marketing, It's in the stretching -- the, you know, how do you let other people know about it? Where do you host it?
Pius Wong 8:45
Rachel Fahrig 8:45
How does the word get spread, essentially?
Pius Wong 8:49
And educators aren't going to have lots and lots of time to do that.
Rachel Fahrig 8:52
Pius Wong 8:52
They're already stretched.
Rachel Fahrig 8:54
Pius Wong 8:54
And every single podcast I met there, though, they were doing it because they loved it. Shout out to Dale and Brian. I don't know they're listening. They probably aren't. But I learned that, you know, they're doing their podcast through the NSTA. But the NSTA kind of is -- it sounded like to me, it was kind of like a sponsor. They -- NSTA has the name and everything, but Dale and Brian, they're doing the work. They're getting all the guests. They're deciding what's going in there. And it takes a lot of time.
Rachel Fahrig 9:21
Yeah, I'm sure the National Science Teachers Association is not providing the two of them a staff or a healthy budget.
Pius Wong 9:29
Maybe they are. I don't want to presume too much.
Rachel Fahrig 9:31
Yeah, I don't know. But yeah, I mean, if they're doing it because they're passionate about it and because love it, then yeah.
Pius Wong 9:38
There's another woman, Megan. She's creating a podcast right now and I forget the name. It's hashtag Generations or something like that. But she has access to all these university professionals, because she's in that community. And she's trying to do a podcast about social science research essentially on the different generations, millenials, all the way to the oldest generations. And I haven't heard of a podcast like that before. She's super inspired by Freakanomics. And she wants to clarify the misconceptions we -- different generations have about each other.
Rachel Fahrig 9:47
Break down those barriers. Good for her.
Pius Wong 10:15
It's super interesting. They have books coming out and everything. But she was saying the same thing. She has no time. She doesn't sleep. She has her real job of doing research, and then she has this.
Rachel Fahrig 10:23
Yes. This is the side gig.
Pius Wong 10:25
Kind of like what this is.
Rachel Fahrig 10:28
Sounds like a very familiar story.
Pius Wong 10:30
So anyone who is thinking about doing a podcast, and anyone at that meetup that we did, I want to keep on saying how much it's awesome and how I love it. I must have said I love it to so many people, but you have to go in with, what is it? Clear eyes? Wide eyes?
Rachel Fahrig 10:46
Eyes wide open.
Pius Wong 10:47
You have to know what's going to go into it, and there's a lot more work than you might expect.
Rachel Fahrig 10:53
Pius Wong 10:54
And so when you bring it into the classroom, I think it's awesome if you already have that AV expert. I didn't speak to the teachers so much on the corner of the room that was talking about using podcasts to teach your kids. But I know they were thinking about these issues of how to teach your kids the details of podcasting, how much time do you spend on getting software.
Rachel Fahrig 11:16
If you don't know -- So for me, I don't know what I don't know about podcasting. So I would end up, you know -- I would think through the details, and I would have as much of it planned out as possible. But then I guarantee you, I would hit a snag somewhere, either I don't know how to use the proper editing software, or I would hear about editing software, and then find out, whoopsies, it's not free, or whatever it happens to be.
Pius Wong 11:46
Yeah. And then it's first semester, and you already have to get it going or something.
Rachel Fahrig 11:49
Pius Wong 11:50
The thing that they would tell us in our engineering class was, like, if you're an engineering teacher, and you oftentimes have to learn new tools and software or concepts --
Rachel Fahrig 11:59
Yes, new skills.
Pius Wong 12:00
You just have to trust, quote-unquote, that you are learning with the students.
Rachel Fahrig 12:03
Pius Wong 12:04
And it could be that podcasting in the classroom is a similar thing. It's a technology. It's an art form, but maybe you're learning with the students when you do that, and maybe that's okay.
Rachel Fahrig 12:13
I think so. I think you would just have to understand that is going to occur. Yes, embrace it.
Pius Wong 12:21
Right now, maybe not in the future, but --
Rachel Fahrig 12:23
Just be right with it.
Pius Wong 12:25
Maybe it teaches you about failure, about design, all the same things that we do in engineering, actually.
Rachel Fahrig 12:31
Pius Wong 12:32
Just with a different kind of product.
Rachel Fahrig 12:33
Exactly. Well, you're engineering outcomes. You're engineering learning in a different style.
Pius Wong 12:44
Is there a podcast topic that you would be interested in listening to that you haven't heard of before?
Rachel Fahrig 12:50
Hmm. You know, I'm not always the best one to ask, because as much as I feature on this podcast, I really only listen to a couple.
Pius Wong 12:59
You aren't listening to ours all the time, Rachel?
Rachel Fahrig 13:01
I do listen to most of the episodes of this one. But I again, I'm a busy --
Pius Wong 13:07
Rachel Fahrig 13:08
I work, and I'm a mom, and then I assist Pius with different ventures, and I don't -- I just don't get out and meet too many podcasts these days. I think it would be interesting to hear about -- So one of the things that I focus on as an educator, as a community member, is breaking down barriers and communication. There are so many misconceptions that individuals have and that groups of people have about other people or other groups of people. And a lot of it stems from, we just don't know what they do. Parents don't know what teachers do. Teachers don't know what administrators do. So on and so forth. I mean, you don't know what landscapers do, even though you think they do. I mean, we just don't know the ins and outs and the nitty gritty of whomever. And I would love to have a podcast or hear a podcast -- not me personally host it, don't get ideas.
Pius Wong 14:14
You don't want to make that website, and advertise it, and record it?
Rachel Fahrig 14:17
And worry about all the editing. No, but it would be neat if there were a podcast that focused on making those connections between people --
Pius Wong 14:26
Rachel Fahrig 14:27
Groups of people. Even expanding it past education. I think that would be a great place to start though. Yeah.
Pius Wong 14:35
That's a good idea. I don't know one like that right now.
Rachel Fahrig 14:38
I don't either. Somebody go start one.
Pius Wong 14:40
There you go. We have lots of podcast ideas.
Rachel Fahrig 14:42
And we have a nice listening audience. So I encourage them to get that started.
Pius Wong 14:48
Yes, tweet us out your ideas. K12engineering. That's our account.
Rachel Fahrig 14:53
Rachel Fahrig 15:11
It's an information deluge anytime you come to South by Edu or South by Southwest.
Pius Wong 15:16
It is. I will say our other session that we did besides the meetup --
Rachel Fahrig 15:21
We had so much good feedback.
Pius Wong 15:22
--was not just an information deluge. But hey, I'll take my pat on my back. I'll pat myself on the back.
Rachel Fahrig 15:29
If you follow our Twitter, you will see some incredible feedback from the participants.
Pius Wong 15:37
Yeah. People really liked our workshop about designing lessons with insights from improv and engineering.
Rachel Fahrig 15:44
Yes. I'm an outcome-based person. I want people -- If they're coming to experience a presentation or a workshop or an activity that I'm facilitating, I want them to walk out with at least what they expected, if not more or better, and I want them to be able to use it in a meaningful way right away. Right then.
Pius Wong 16:06
Thank you. I like that last part, especially.
Rachel Fahrig 16:08
Go back to your campus next week and try this out.
Pius Wong 16:12
Theory is good. I like hearing theory if it's explained in an interesting way, but I am all about: Okay, so now what can we do with this? And I think we did deliver on that. We gave little tools, improv games, and an engineering method, really, to analyze designs.
Rachel Fahrig 16:28
Pius Wong 16:28
And in this case, analyze lessons. And I'm excited to hear what lesson tweaks or totally new lesson ideas they may have. I got a lot of lesson feedback, by the way, on how I teach my math class. Oh my god.
Rachel Fahrig 16:41
Good for you.
Pius Wong 16:42
I was just thinking back. What we did was, we basically put ourselves in an extreme worst-case scenario testing, like you would do with a car. You put a car in worst-case scenarios. You crash them.
Rachel Fahrig 16:53
Why don't you go ahead and share with our audience what that is called?
Pius Wong 16:56
Well, our particular method was empathic lead user analysis. You can Google it. And we were basically trying to put ourselves in the shoes of our students. Because of the length of time that we had in our two hour session, we --
Rachel Fahrig 17:12
These were five-minute mini-lessons. Yes.
Pius Wong 17:15
What we did was, we let our teachers who were in the room -- We let the participants be the judge of our lessons.
Rachel Fahrig 17:23
Pius Wong 17:23
So for example, I had a math lesson, a five minute math lesson about linear equations, because I do this with my students right now. With my adult students in the community college. And I put myself in a worst-case scenario. Worst-case, as in, not bad, but like --
Rachel Fahrig 17:38
Extenuating circumstance. Extraordinary.
Pius Wong 17:42
Extraordinary. That's the word that I was using. Extraordinary conditions, extraordinary users.
Rachel Fahrig 17:47
Pius Wong 17:47
And some people had earplugs on to simulate, you know, hearing loss. Some people had blindfolds on, sleep masks on, to simulate vision loss. I, myself, have vision problems. I could have just taken off my glasses. I didn't mention that. But the whole idea is: for me, I don't normally have a lot of students in my class with hearing loss or these other situations going on.
Rachel Fahrig 18:13
You don't have exceptional learners.
Pius Wong 18:14
I do sometimes, but I don't have half of my class that way. I mean, fortunately, most schools accommodate for that.
Rachel Fahrig 18:19
Pius Wong 18:20
So this is definitely like an extreme situation. And you know what? It was really harrowing. Even though I knew what I was getting into -- I assigned my participants these situations, and I knew this lesson. Even with all those things going into it, even though I knew that, it was extreme testing. I learned that my voice doesn't carry the way it should. I have to remember to look at people when I talk to them. I don't know. What did you think about your physics lesson that you did? Chemistry-physics lesson.
Rachel Fahrig 18:49
Yeah, it was a density column, for those of you who are familiar with --
Pius Wong 18:54
Density columns, hey yo. Shoutout.
Rachel Fahrig 18:59
It was just, you know, oil and water and alcohol, and looking at the separation of the layers and talking about why different substances float on each other the way they do. The feedback I got was that it was particularly useful when I -- for the the students, for the mock students who were simulating vision loss. One of the things that I suggested -- So I asked someone else to describe what they saw.
Pius Wong 19:32
Someone was speaking about --
Rachel Fahrig 19:34
Another student was explaining to the group of students to the entire group.
Pius Wong 19:41
Rachel Fahrig 19:41
And then the other piece of feedback that I got was, similarly to you, even though I do -- my voice does actually carry well -- that the students who had earplugs in noticed a distinct difference when I would look directly at them and speak, versus when I would turn away and speak to the whole group. So yeah, similar feedback that it's -- some of those minor details can really improve the lesson not only for the exceptional learner, but for the entire group of students.
Pius Wong 20:19
And I think people really saw that. There was so much good discussion
Rachel Fahrig 20:25
Pius Wong 20:26
Some people said what you just said, how universal design is good for everyone, not just that particular person. Some people said that they now better understood maybe the fears that some of their students might have if they don't understand something.
Rachel Fahrig 20:38
That was a powerful piece to me. That light bulb went on, like, Okay, you know what? I never had thought about it from my students perspective, except, again, theoretically, what we learned in teacher professional development.
Pius Wong 20:52
There's that theoretical thing. And this is what I love about pairing our activities the way we did. We did that empathical lead user analysis engineering activity that's been researched at the University of Texas mechanical engineering department and other places, and we did it with all these improv games, with our trainer, Amar Dev. He ran a bunch of improv games to help think about lessons with innovation, with creativity in mind. But like, that idea of empathy is so important for both improv and engineering. We had a whole podcast episode about this like two years ago or something.
Rachel Fahrig 21:25
I think so. Was that season one?
Pius Wong 21:26
Yeah. This must have been before our other South by. But it just goes to show -- It confirms for me the power of empathy. In improv, they always tell you, yeah, you have to try and imagine what it's like to be someone else. And it's hard. It's hard to imagine how to be someone else.
Rachel Fahrig 21:44
Pius Wong 21:44
When you're on stage, in real life. And this -- I mean, yeah, putting earplugs in is not -- we're not trivializing what it means to have hearing loss.
Rachel Fahrig 21:52
No, and we did discuss that.
Pius Wong 21:54
We did discuss that. But it gets us closer, you know? And I think getting closer -- as long as you don't just give up, and throw your hands in the air, and like, oh, I can never understand this. But like, it's cool to try. And we can continue to do that, not just for students with hearing loss. There were so many suggestions, so many great ideas of who really are our lead users that we forget about sometimes.
Rachel Fahrig 22:03
Yep. And I was just thinking that. So whichever audience member it is who is going to go out and create this communications podcast, empathy really, really ties into that.
Pius Wong 22:32
They can have their whole episode on empathy.
Rachel Fahrig 22:33
They could just do empathy and communication. But that's not me. That's for someone else to tackle.
Pius Wong 22:38
We like to give work to other people. That's what teachers do. So, Rachel, I think our time is up. We'll cross paths tomorrow.
Rachel Fahrig 22:46
Pius Wong 22:47
Rachel Fahrig 22:48
All right. Thank you, Pius.
Pius Wong 22:50
Thank you, Rachel.
Rachel Fahrig 22:51
Thank you, listeners.
Pius Wong 22:56
This was a recording taken on site at the 2018 South by Southwest EDU conference and festival in Austin, Texas, with educator Rachel Fahrig and yours truly, engineer Pius Wong. If you'd like to learn about anything you heard in this episode, like empathic lead user analysis or worst-case testing, just check the show notes or the podcast website: k12engineering.net.
Pius Wong 23:24
Subscribe to this podcast today so you don't miss anything new. Find us on iTunes, Stitcher, the Public Radio Exchange, or any other podcast player platform. If you leave us some reviews, that's fantastic, because it'll help others find the show and get others thinking about engineering education some more. On Twitter, tweet the show: @K12Engineering. Follow Rachel: @rfahrig, and follow me: @PiusWong. You can also find The K12 Engineering Education Podcast on Facebook and on all the other social networks of questionable engineering ethics these days, unfortunately, but that's a great idea for future episodes' discussion. Get transcripts and all the other details on the show at the ever-growing podcast website: k12engineering.net.
Pius Wong 24:10
Our music in the middle of the episode and now in closing is called "High School Snaps" by Broke for Free, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license. The K12 Engineering Education Podcast is a production of my independent Studio Pios Labs. You can support Pios Labs with regular contributions by going online to patreon.com/pioslabs. You can also send simple one-time contributions by buying us a coffee. Links on how to do that are on the website and in the show notes. Thank you for your support, and thanks for listening.