Starting a basic podcast is easy. You need a website, an RSS feed, and a microphone. You can always add more, but those are the basics for anyone to get started. Going into my first sabbatical and moving across the country for the semester, I decided that it was time to experiment with this new way of learning and connecting with people around a shared interest in educational innovation and entrepreneurship. I already had a Blue Yet microphone, but I bought a few more items and got started. In case you are interested, I’m cataloging some of the equipment that I’ve tried so far. That is how I got started with the MoonshotEduShow podcast.
It all happened one weekend, and I have not stopped for over five months. When I first got started, the quality was really bad. Over time, I got it up to just plain bad. Now I think that I’m at a decent quality, but I continue to figure things out a bit at a time, gaining new insights from listeners every week.
As much as I value building new connections, I am recognizing how this podcast is changing me. Hereare three of the early observations.
Listening and Learning
I’m often contacted as the “expert” even as much as I am not comfortable with that word. Expertise is a pursuit more than a destination, and as much as it might be cliché, the further I go in my learning, the greater I recognize my limitations and inadequacies. However, what I enjoy about the podcast is that I am the learner first. In the past, some of my greatest learning experiences and epiphanies came from putting myself in the position of learner: visiting, studying, observing, interviewing schools, leaders, and innovators. That is largely what inspired my first book on Missional Moonshots. Yet, over the last year or two, time for such interviews diminished amid other roles and responsibilities.
This podcast is a wonderful chance for me to be the listener and learner. Each new guest shares his or her story and insights gleaned from direct work and research in a given area. I ask questions. I listen. I learn. I muse out loud about what I am hearing and thinking. That is just during the interview. Afterward I am doing the post-production work myself. As such, I am listening to each interview two to four times, editing out silence and other distractions from the main conversation. As I do that, I often find myself having to open a new window and frantically write down thoughts, questions, and ideas that I want to explore or with which I want to experiment. Many of my recent blog posts emerge from these musings.
There is something different about being a podcast host. I connect my guests with my audience, but I am not necessarily center stage. I point to someone and something else. When I’ve done research in past years, I am still doing it from a position of power. I’m the researcher and others are the subjects of my research. That is true despite my past work with research methods that challenge this traditional power differential, methods like auto-ethnography, fiction as research, and methods that offer direct connection with voices, unfiltered by a researcher. Yet, there is something wonderfully humbling about this role of podcast host. Some of my guests know me and my work, but most do not, and I love that dynamic. There are some things that cannot be learned from the stage, at least not being center stage.
Of course, I also learn humility amid my many mistakes on the technical end, like the time that I planned poorly and had to ask the guest if he was willing to come back for a redo of the recording. Or, there were the first dozen episodes where I had all sorts of audio issues for the world to witness (like my candid “typos and all” reflections on this blog). These remind me of how much I do not know, but they free me to be a learner first, and I am thoroughly enjoying that.
I believe that ideas have consequences, especially in matters of moral and ethical implications. Ideas change the way that we look at life, ourselves, the world, and others. They can blind us from some possibilities while opening our eyes to others. Yet, I am never fully content with a good idea. I have a drive to see something happen, some sort of tangible difference or impact, even if it is small. Interviewing innovators and difference-makers is a certain recipe to resting content in the world of ideas. These people are doing incredible things, and it is nearly impossible for someone with a hint of an entrepreneurial proclivity to just sit back and enjoy the ideas on this podcast. These people are doing things. They are failing, succeeding, learning, and moving. The more time that I spend with them, the more that part of me is fueled and ready to launch. If you listen to my podcast, be ready for the same thing. This is a podcast for educational dreamers like me who are discontent with how things are and are committed to being difference-makers in specific and tangible ways.
The Learning Continues
There is so much more that I am learning as well, but I’ll save those for future reflections. However, if you want an incredible, time-consuming, but rewarding and inspiring learning experience, start a podcast. If you don’t want to do that, do the next best thing and check out mine. You can listen in many ways but iTunes and SoundCloud seem to be the most common so far. Better yet, why not start a podcast and listen to mine?