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Researcher at USF Sarasota-Manatee campus launches weekly podcast to focus on literacy, education

A University of South Florida education professor is creating podcasts to help teachers stay connected and learn about the most significant research shaping their profession.

Lindsay Persohn, an assistant professor in the College of Education at the university’s Sarasota-Manatee campus, said she’s hoping to inspire teachers to engage in research-based professional learning through her podcasts, which drop each Monday at midnight on her website, classroomcaffeine.com, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and other hosting sites, including iHeartRadio.

The podcasts focus mostly on issues related to literacy, her specialty. Each week, Persohn interviews a notable researcher who summarizes their work and offers practical insights and guidance to teachers. The 20-minute segments are perfect for drive time and just long enough to allow for in-depth discussion and analysis.

Unlocking and understanding a researcher’s findings can sometimes involve hours of reading, she said. Through the podcasts, teachers glean key research take-aways quickly and in a style that also is accessible to non-teaching professionals.

Lindsay Persohn

Lindsay Persohn

“Like many of us, teachers lead busy lives and they may not have time to dig into a research article or have paid-subscription access to those articles, so what the podcasts do is get to the heart of this research in a way that’s relatable, free and easy to understand,” said Persohn, a former elementary school teacher and librarian.

So far, she said, she’s hearing positive feedback, and her podcasts are gradually building listenership after debuting in mid-November. Persohn started working on them last winter and so far has released five of the podcasts to her website.

The interviews are conducted over Zoom and contain minimal editing to create a conversational feel. For now, they’re distributed in an audio-only format, but Persohn would like to add videos, transcripts of the conversations and a special-focus series if she can acquire government grants or foundational support.

She hopes to hire one or two more graduate students to manage the website and help with podcast production. She currently receives assistance from graduate student Csaba Osvath.

“My goal is to help teachers and teaching students access research in a way that can affect their everyday lives in the classroom, as well as their long-term thinking and how they approach teaching,” said Persohn, who earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from USF in 2018. “Informed and engaged teachers tend to have successful and happy students.”

Marie Byrd, associate professor and interim director of education at the Sarasota-Manatee campus, said she’s proud of Persohn’s work.

“Lindsay’s efforts to reach broader audiences with her research through podcasts allows for those not in higher education to have access to cutting-edge topics of interest,” Byrd said. “It definitely transitions traditional scholarship, normally published in research journals, to more diverse populations.”

To learn more about the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, visit www.sarasotamanatee.usf.edu.

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