Can Podcasts Improve Educational Inequalities? 

Conference: The Asian Undergraduate Research Symposium (AURS2021)
Title: Can Podcasts Improve Educational Inequalities? 
Stream: Education
Presentation Type: Virtual Poster Presentation
Chuying Wu, University College London, Institute of Education, United Kingdom


Research on technology often depicts it as a straightforward means to achieving educational equality, without realizing its potentiality in producing exclusions. During Covid-19, the problem of the digital divide – the gap between groups who can and cannot access the Internet and other technologies – became widely seen. This paper critically evaluates the role of technology in addressing educational inequalities and argues that podcasts, as a traditional form of technology, might be a better solution to the issue. Firstly, the paper extends the notion of inequality in Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of capital and class distinction — which primarily focuses on class — to cover other marginalized social groups. This will lead to the discussion on how social inequalities are reproduced from schooling given the differential access to "capitals" among those groups. Then, through an analysis of a particular podcast that we produced with two British students, one from a working-class family and another from a middle-class background, the paper reveals a substantial difference between their learning experiences under the pandemic. The underlying reason is suggested to be the digital divide, not only speaking from the "access" to technologies, but also from the “socio-cultural” (e.g. lack of school support) and "emotional" (e.g. sense of inferiority when being left behind) dimensions. Starting from these three dimensions, the paper argues that podcasts can better address educational inequalities by enabling wider access, providing more easily customizable teaching materials, and establishing emotional attachments with audiences concerning social justice issues.

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