Learning While Driving

Learning While Driving

I often like to use my commuting time as thinking time – I put on some instrumental music and let my mind ponder the projects of the day. I’ve recently come to enjoy using that time for learning by listening to podcasts. They are often just long enough to take up the whole ride and they leave me with new ideas to consider.

Teaching in Higher Ed is top of the list of recommended podcasts for those of us who do just that. Dr.Bonni Stachowiak, the host, is an Associate Professor of Business and Management at Vanguard University of Southern California.

The podcast is always an encouraging conversation about teaching in a college setting – its joys and its challenges. The people in the interview chair are people who do this work, and who spend a great deal of time thinking about how to be effective. I often feel like I am sitting in a living room absorbing a conversation among colleagues – but it’s the kind of dialog that invites you to think about teaching in new ways.

For example, a discussion with Sean Michael Morris focused on the ways that instructional design can be very mechanistic. Another episode featured Amy Collier on “not yet-ness” – a concept that highlights the potential dividends of experimenting with emerging technologies and techniques in creative ways. These episodes challenge me to think more expansively about the big ideas I want to explore in my courses. They pointed out the tension between a planned course structure and freedom to explore that has been worth pondering.

Other episodes are more practical than philosophical. Jim Lang shared some of the key ideas in his new book, Small Teaching, which advocates for introducing easy-to-implement, research-based techniques in your teaching that can make a big difference in outcomes. Researcher Pooja Agarwal gave an overview of the importance of retrieval practice (vs. rehearsal) when we want to retain learning, and Natalie Houston discussed how habits are formed and changed.

Paying attention to our own professional development can be hard when our lives are so full. I find listening to this podcast to be relaxing and thought-provoking at the same time – and a great way to spend my time on Route 1.

The topics of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast include teaching strategies, educational technologies, productivity tips, and more. Bonni is the epitome of the reflective instructor, and her curious nature is ever evident in the interviews. You can subscribe to show notes to get additional articles and links related to each episode as it comes out – yet another treasure trove of good ideas.

The Teaching in Higher Ed podcast is coming up on 100 episodes, and the library is worth checking out. Enjoy your drive!




3 thoughts on “Learning While Driving

  1. I want to mention that I occasionally listen to the podcasts Hello Internet and Cortex. They’re both by CGP Grey, who used to be a physics teacher, and now makes fun educational videos for YouTube. Cortex is about being organized, being productive, and getting things done.


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