Mind your podcasts, please

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education podcast podcasts in mind Stuff You Should Know Listen Money Matters Good Job, Brain The History of the World in 100 Objects Smart People Podcast

Around every corner is a new learning opportunity. But be wary. With the wide stretch of the Internet, many of these ‘opportunities’ present more like mindless minutiae. And that includes the swath of podcast feeds gaining media momentum on the web these days.

Despite what you might hear from others, or what you might find upon surfing, be cautious of the ‘casts you reel in. Rather than glean something a ‘must-hear,’ because someone else told you so, try to be mindful of the ear rhetoric out there. These listening feeds are all too often full of opinion and ‘infotainment,’ disguised as intelligent online offerings. And, as busy as we are these days, we might as well use our time to learn something new (and actually useful), right?

And while the download-able drivel may be extreme, there happens to be a ton of educational material to check out, too (remember: ‘educational’ doesn’t have to be boring). In fact, there’s an incredible whack load of interesting, engaging material to choose from. You just need to find the ones that suit you.

Despite what you might hear from others, or what you might find upon surfing, be cautious of the ‘casts you reel in.

3d illustration courtesy of Getty Images

If you’re unsure of where to start, head to the search engine tool on your mobile device’s podcasts app (that’s the easiest way; most people typically download and listen to podcasts through apps), or begin straight from Google ‑ as our boss likes to remind us regularly, ‘Google’s your friend.’ Or, as Forbes.com suggests, “You can also stream episodes to WiFi-enabled speakers such as those made by Sonos, or download them in iTunes and transfer them over to an Apple device as part of the syncing process.”

Downloadable Downtime

For some, listening to a podcast can be the perfect complement to ‘downtime.’ As busy AU students, that term might seem laughable, depending on where you’re at in your coursework. But if you do find yourself with some time to spare, away from the AU juggle and grind — whether that’s ‘me time’ waiting at the bus stop, vacuuming your basement, or sitting and staring at a wall — don’t let that precious time slip away. Embrace it to the max: stick in your earbuds, crank up the volume on your listening device, and allow your head to soak up something new, useful and cool — something teachable, even, where you’ll find yourself saying, ‘Huh. Who knew?’

You, now. That’s who.

Podcast perusal

To help you on your way through Podcast-Ville, we’ve rounded up a few must-listens that, in our opinion, can help [en]lighten the pathway.

1)   Stuff You Should Know

This podcast, hosted by Charles (Chuck) Bryant and Josh Clark, will basically give you the skinny on ‘how stuff works.’ (Clark is actually a senior writer for HowStuffWorks.com). For example, say you want to learn about composting and why you might want to start doing it regularly? There’s an episode on that. Or, what is empathy? And why are some sensitive to a lot of it, and some to only a wee bit? You can find that out, too.

Finally, what the heck is ‘foreign accent syndrome?’ And why does my friend who returned from Australia think they’re an Aussie now? This episode’s got you covered.

You should know this podcast.

2)   Listen Money Matters

I cannot even begin to pay off my student loans, never mind ‘diversify my portfolio!” Sound familiar? This podcast will keep your brain in the flush about cold hard cash in ways you can actually wrap your head around. How does interest work? What’s a hedge fund? Now here’s an investment for your ears you won’t regret. Check it out.

3)   Good Job, Brain

Looking to go a little lighter? This podcast, with its focus on quizzes and offbeat trivia might just be more your speed — and your enabler for Trivial Pursuit annihilation. Sure you might annoy your friends with all your new encyclopedic knowledge, but hey, what’s not annoying these days?

4)   The History of the World in 100 Objects

What’s the role of the Blarney Stone in the history of everything? What does it mean if I don’t know what the Blarney Stone is? You can find out right now by tuning in to this BBC Radio 4 Podcast. Get smarter by learning about the big objects in history.

5)   Smart People Podcast

You probably know some smart people, but do you know what questions you want to ask them? This podcast is all about asking smart people smart questions. How do you win by losing? How can I maximize my memory? You can start by listening to those who have the answers. Hosted by Chris Stemp and co-host/producer Jon Rojas, the duo and their podcast aim to, on a weekly basis, “feature todays [sic] most well-respected thought leaders engaging in authentic, insightful conversation for the benefit of the listener.”

Now it’s your turn….

We get it, this is just the start of the learning curve. So now you’re up: what do you like to use on your downtime to learn new stuff? Which are your go-to podcasts when it comes to enhancing your brain? Any specific ones you’ve found are helping you with your course work?

Let’s hear it!