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Podcasts fill the silence between serious obligations -- commutes, chores, downtime. But they’re more than just distractions. At their best, recorded conversations between educated professionals can offer guidance and support that can be carried back to the office.

Laura Pasquini, a lecturer in the department of learning technologies at the University of North Texas and a researcher in the digital learning and social media research group at Royal Roads University, has spent the last six months documenting the growth of podcasts created by and for the higher education community. Her Higher Ed Podcast Project collects audio content from across the higher ed sector.

“It goes back to the grassroots idea of what social media was: user-generated, storytelling, led by the person creating it, sharing a narrative that doesn’t get shared. They’re controlling where they share the message,” Pasquini said. “I think there’s some very democratic ways to leverage what you know and how you share it.”

Some podcasts, like Arizona State University’s “Instruction by Design,” circumvent the challenges of aligning schedules for faculty development sessions. Others grew organically out of social media interactions.

Pasquini’s full list of higher education podcasts covers every imaginable topic. “Inside Digital Learning” picked out a few that might be relevant to you. We also asked the hosts of each to describe their podcasts in five words or fewer.

Logo: The Future of Digital EducationThe Future of Digital Education

Hosted by: Jim Cooper, president and CEO of Maplesoft, a company that works on STEM-focused solutions for online education.

Frequency: Sporadic -- nine episodes in fall 2017, two thus far in 2018. The plan is for new episodes every other week.

In the host’s own words: “Innovations in digital education.”

Description: Cooper presides over conversations with education technology experts -- both K-12 and higher ed -- about the future of their fields.

Standout Episode: "Digital Assessment" with Mark Schneider, professor of mathematics at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Resources: Videos.

Listen: iTunes.

Logo: Instruction by DesignInstruction by Design

Hosted by: Steven Crawford, Jinnette Senecal, Celia Coochwytewa and Aaron Kraft -- instructional designers at Arizona State University.

Frequency: Every other Monday.

In the hosts’ own words: “Professional development for busy faculty.”

Description: Conversations about pedagogical practices and the potential benefits of instructional design offer a low-stakes alternative to the dreaded “faculty development” training session.

Standout Episode: "How Can Instructional Designers Help You?"

Resources: Links to additional materials.

Listen: Soundcloud, iTunes, Google Play.

Follow: Website, Twitter.

Logo: Josie and the Podcast: Connecting Tech and Leadership in Higher EdJosie and the Podcast

Hosted by: Josie Ahlquist, research associate and leadership instructor at Florida State University.

Frequency: Every Thursday.

In the host’s own words: “Heart, soul and social media.”

Description: Most of the podcasts in this guide are geared toward the classroom. This one takes a broader view by examining the shifting technological landscape from an administrator’s perspective.

Standout Episode: “Melissa Woo, Social Higher Ed CIO” -- featuring thoughts on technology and people from a chief information officer and president of information technology at Stony Brook University.

Resources: Show notes.

Listen: iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play.

Follow: Twitter.

Logo: Leading LinesLeading Lines

Hosted by: Derek Bruff, director of the center for teaching and a senior lecturer of mathematics at Vanderbilt University.

Frequency: Every other Monday.

In the host’s own words: “Exploring educational technology’s future.”

Description: Consider new ways to engage students with the help of educators, experts and even students themselves.

Standout Episode: "Derek Price, Terrell Taylor and Kyle Romero" -- graduate students whose podcast on video gaming is a training ground of sorts for their future work as educators.

Resources: Transcript, links.

Listen: iTunes, Soundcloud.

Follow: Twitter, email.

Logo: Oregon State University Ecampus Research in ActionResearch in Action

Hosted by: Katie Linder, research director at Oregon State University Ecampus.

Frequency: Every Monday.

In the host’s own words: “Intimidated by research? Try RIA!”

Description: Each episode features an interview with a higher education professional who offers insights on an aspect of the research world, from methods and strategies to applications and impacts.

Standout episode: Episode 99, “Dr. Jesse Stommel on Founding a Journal.”

Resources: Show notes and transcripts, episode guide, suggestion form for guests and topics.

Listen: iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, PlayerFM.

Follow: Website, Twitter, email

Logo: Teaching in Higher EdTeaching in Higher Ed

Hosted by: Bonni Stachowiak, director of teaching excellence and digital pedagogy at Vanguard University of Southern California.

Frequency: Every Thursday.

In the host’s own words: “Facilitate learning. Maximize students’ potential.”

Description: Productivity and effectiveness are the key buzzwords that drive this series, which features interviews with faculty members trying new ways to engage students. They don’t always succeed, but they always reflect.

Standout episode: “Creating Immersive Learning Experiences in Online Courses,” with special guest Ric Montelongo, assistant professor at Sam Houston University.

Resources: Quotes from the episode, links to additional resources.

Listen: iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Android.

Follow: Website, Twitter.

Coming soon: The podcast celebrates its 200th episode April 12 with a group of educators discussing how their attitudes toward teaching have changed since the podcast launched in 2014.

Logo: Teaching Online Podcast (TOPcast), from the Center for Distributed Learning, University of Central FloridaThe Teaching Online Podcast (TOPcast)

Hosted by: Tom Cavanagh, vice provost for digital learning, and Kelvin Thompson, director of the center for distributed learning, both from the University of Central Florida.

Frequency: The first Monday of every month.

In the hosts’ own words: “Conversational insights about digital learning (with coffee).” (Note: They cheated on the word count, but we let it slide.)

Description: Sometimes episodes are centered around a news item, like last year’s inspector general audit of Western Governors University. Others tackle a broader topic like academic integrity. Sometimes they have guests; other times they’re on their own. The threads linking each episode are classroom innovation and specialty coffee.

Standout episode: Episode 29, “Designing Better Blended Learning” (with special guest Norm Vaughan, professor of education at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada).

Resources: Show notes and transcripts, episode guide.

Listen: iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn.

Follow: Website, Twitter, subscribe to monthly newsletter.

Thinking Outside the Sandbox

Hosted by: Representatives from the Southern New Hampshire University Sandbox Collaborative, a research and development lab for strategy and innovation.

Frequency: Weekly.

In the host’s own words: “Provocations for higher ed innovation.”

Description: This series from one of the nation’s most innovative online institutions tracks internal progress, drives strategy within the university, and encourages innovation among practitioners outside the institution as well.

Standout episode: "A Fresh Take on the Value of Assessment," featuring Charles Blaich and Kathy Wise of the Center of Inquiry at Wabash College

Listen: iTunes, Google Play, Website.

Follow: Twitter.

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