MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Podcasts have experienced an explosion of popularity in recent years, offering an audio storytelling platform that has captured people’s imaginations. By some estimates, there were well over three billion requests for downloads of podcasts in 2016.

In a winter-term course, visiting instructor Erin Davis is harnessing some of that growing enthusiasm by helping students learn to produce their own podcasts. “Sound and Story: an Introduction to Podcasting” sends students into the field to conduct interviews and collect ambient sound. Then they bring it all back to the production lab where they edit their materials into compelling audio narratives.

“I think podcasting is underappreciated as an artform,” says Davis, an audio and film documentarian who directed the 2014 film The Land. “People put as much energy, thought, creativity, and planning into a podcast series as they do in a poem, novel or film.”

The course is ambitious, with several intensive projects completed over the four-week term. Each production is an iterative process that includes class critiques of each other’s work. That feedback is then folded into the students’ revisions of their podcasts until they’re happy with the end result. Davis says she hopes the completed projects will give students a starting portfolio of tangible products they can present to prospective employers or internship supervisors.

More J-term Scenes.