Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Active Learning in the CTL Studio: Writing for Audio in the Age of Podcasts

Sanjana Singh sits near a microphone in the CTL studio with her laptop to test the audio.
July 6, 2017

Have you ever wondered how Megan Chakrabarti, Jacob Goldstein, or Ira Glass develop the stories that they tell on National Public Radio? Do they step up to the microphone and just start talking or have they taken the time to write and rehearse what they will say?

(Pictured: Sanjana Singh, a technology training and programs coordinator at the CTL, tests the audio feed from the microphone in the CTL Studio Suite.)

According to Mark Oppenheimer, Lecturer in English, Divinity, and Political Science and Director of the Yale Journalism Initiative, “The podcast has become the medium for the most innovative radio nonfiction—indeed, for the best creative nonfiction today, radio or otherwise.”

Oppenheimer recently taught an inventive writing course during the spring term, ENGL 471: Writing for the Ear, Advanced Podcasting Workshop. His syllabus clearly stated:

Using audio resources available at Yale…we will learn basic techniques for audio production: recording, cutting audio, sound design. Students will be expected to select a topic for the final project by the second week and begin reporting and collecting ‘tape’ … by the third week.

The course was a study of the radio/podcast medium and a collaborative endeavor for students as they worked with Oppenheimer and staff from the CTL to produce a series of podcasts about undergraduate life at Yale.

“When I decided to teach Yale's first-ever course in podcast production, one of my great worries was where the students would get studio time,” said Oppenheimer. “The CTL Studio solved that, with new, excellent equipment, and a wonderfully supportive staff. The students couldn't have turned out such terrific work without the Studio.”

Students visited the CTL Studio Suite to record and cut audio after editing their scripts. In total, 15 students used the resources in rooms 116E and 118A for an approximate total of 75 hours.

“Working with Mark allowed us to demonstrate how the CTL can help support faculty members with creative class assignments that require a studio space,” said John Harford, manager of the CTL Studio and Manager of Collaboration Technologies. “We have the resources to help faculty at Yale implement active learning assignments and we welcome the opportunity to work with more faculty interested in using audio or visual equipment with their students.”

Faculty may contact John Harford to arrange for a tour of the studio or to set-up a consultation