It is no secret that many of us on the WCET team, myself included, enjoy listening to podcasts. In fact, we’ve recommended podcasts in several of our summer listen lists. This year, one of the podcasts we included in our “Quarantainment” post was the Get Online… podcast from Great Plains IDEA. After listening to these episodes, I reached out to the team at Great Plains IDEA to ask how they put their show together and what they learned from the process. As luck would have it, the team was gracious enough to share their experiences with us in today’s post from the host of the Get Online podcast, Kathryn Harth. Thank you to Kathryn and the entire team for the great post today!

Enjoy the read, the listen, and your day,

– Lindsey Downs, WCET

Get Online podcast logo. a microphone photo, title of podcast, with a logo of a graduation cap.

Why we wanted to make a podcast.

At Great Plains IDEA we are always pushing ourselves to be innovative. The consortium was formed out of innovation and we take our role in carrying on that tradition very seriously. One of the roles of the management team is to serve as a conduit for our member universities by bringing together resources, best practices, and key stakeholders. However, we don’t want to just benefit our members, we want to be a resource for the entire online learning community. What better way to do that than to provide a podcast for students, faculty, staff, and administrators?

How we set about making a podcast.

While listed numerically, it’s important to point out that many of these elements were happening simultaneously. For example, we were still picking our theme music while finding experts to interview, and we were already recording guests before we’d selected a host provider. Also, this website was unbelievably helpful!

  1. Get educated. Since none of us had ever made a podcast before, we first set out to learn as much as we could. We listened to numerous formats in various genres. We interviewed people involved in making podcasts. We read blogs and articles about how to make podcasts.
  2. Identify the audience and the focus. We knew we wanted our podcast to be relevant to everyone who works or learns in the online environment. With such a broad audience, we agreed that our first series should be inclusive of as many people as possible, but that future series or stand-alone episodes may be targeted to specific subgroups. We used data from program student surveys sent throughout the year to new and completing students, as well as a survey sent to a smaller group of students focused specifically on academic advising, to identify challenges and barriers for online learners. From there created a list of potential podcast topics. We narrowed those topics to our top three and then went back into the podcast world to learn if any of these were topics already covered. There were only a few podcast episodes focused on helping academic advisors navigate the online learning environment, and we knew from our surveys that online learners often need specific help from their advisors, and so our first topic revealed itself as online academic advising.
  3. Select a format. Once we knew our topic we needed to figure out how we were going to inform our listeners. We had a lot of ideas, and in an effort to be inclusive of everyone’s ideas, we used nearly all of them!
    • Listener questions,
    • Q&A with students and advisors,
    • Interviews with experts,
    • Free giveaways, and
    • Closely related topics.

While this approach allowed us to spread out the work across all staff members, it also made for a very busy podcast with lots of moving parts. As we create future podcasts we plan to incorporate a simpler format.

Get online logo with a graduation cap on a blue background.
  1. Choose a title, theme music, and design.
    • Title: We knew our podcast would focus on helping the online learning community, so Get Online… was a natural fit as our title.
    • Theme music: There are lots of places to find royalty free music. We used this one. We knew we wanted light and happy but not whimsical. After narrowing it down to four choices, we voted on our favorite. On the website we credited the music and author along with the Creative Commons license.
    • Cover art design: After looking at several other podcast covers, we knew we needed to keep it simple. Canva is a great tool for creating all kinds of designs.
  2. Pick your podcast hosting provider. Podcast hosting services store your large media files and support the high bandwidth needed for listeners to download or stream episodes. We found two helpful resources while we were shopping for our host provider.
  3. Record your interviews.
    • Identify and learn from experts before the interview: Our staff had some knowledge of academic advising, but we knew we had more to learn as we worked to determine the focus of each episode and develop questions for our guests.
    • Record it:
      • Consider your recording space. Chances are you don’t have a professional recording studio at home, but you can do a few quick and easy things to make sure you record quality sound. This article was very helpful.
      • Choose a software. We used Zoom because we had access through our university and you can record each audio track separately which gives you a little more freedom when editing. For example, if the host’s dog barks while a guest is talking, you can easily delete the dog from the host’s audio without having to edit the guest’s audio.
photo of a microphone
Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash
  1. Edit each episode. We used Adobe Audition. It is a very sophisticated software and Adobe provides numerous instructional videos. If you don’t want to pay for the Adobe license, lots of experts suggest the free, open source software Audacity. Because we chose a format with so many moving parts, the editing process was extremely time consuming. This is yet another reason to choose a simpler format.
  2. Publish your podcast. Where do you publish? It turns out there are several locations to share your new podcast episodes. These include:
    • To the podcast host provider, as discussed above.
    • To your website. See how we organized our website.
      • To be helpful, we included time markers with key questions that were answered so listeners could jump to specific topics.
      • We are in the process of adding PDF transcripts for all of our episodes. You can pay to have someone transcribe your recordings, or you can upload your recording to YouTube and it will provide a basic transcript. These instructions are really helpful.
    • To podcast directories.
      • Add your podcast’s RSS feed, which you get from your hosting provider, to as many directories as you want. Simply go to the directory’s website, look for a link or button that reads “Submit a Podcast”, and follow the prompts. Many of the directories have easy-to-follow instructions. Depending on your host provider, they may automatically post to some directories for you. Some of the most popular directories include iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher, and Spotify.
  3. Spread the word! Why do all the work of creating a podcast if you’re not going to invite people to listen? We knew our podcast would help people, so we wanted to get it in front of as many people as possible. We spread the word using our monthly newsletter and listservs. We asked our student services professionals to share with students. We emailed advising units at member universities and submitted information about our podcast to news pages and calendars where available. We also asked our partners in the online learning community to spread the word through their various channels. We are thankful to WCET, National Academic Advising Association (NACADA), and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) for sharing our great resource with their members.

Listen to our podcast.

Academic advising episodes logo.

Get Online… is a podcast produced by Great Plains IDEA that helps students and faculty align expectations around online education. Each episode includes expert advice and creative resources to inform and enrich the online educational experience. Listen from our website at or you can find Get Online… wherever you listen to podcasts.

In our first series, Get Online with Academic Advising, we tackled the topic of academic advising. We interviewed faculty and students to hear their experiences, listen to their questions, and provide advice from an array of guests, including experts from several of NACADA’s advising communities.

Future episodes will continue to focus on the online educational experience for students and faculty. Our next few releases will be interviews with Great Plains IDEA alumni who share their experience of learning online while balancing work, family, and life. These short profiles on individuals give listeners a glance into what it’s like to follow your dream, face down a challenge, and accomplish something when doubt almost stopped you. This fall we will share a new series focused on student services for online learners.

Get Online… is brought to you by Great Plains IDEA, a consortium of universities who collaborate to offer online, flexible, affordable degree programs for a virtual community of diverse learners. Our alliance offers high-quality, academic programs that are greater in reach and significance than any single university could offer alone by sharing resources in efficient ways. Visit our website to learn more about Great Plains IDEA.

Kathryn Harth

Author and Podcast Host, Great Plains IDEA


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