Taylor, If it helps a bit, Manton Reece [(@manton), (@manton)] fairly recently created a microcast network and some tools to help people create, host, and distribute short podcasts with micro.blog. It’s an interesting model and one which could eventually be built upon as a minimal product for adding additional features and tools.
Additionally Aaron Parecki had some thoughts a while back on his microcast (episode 9: Streamlining My Microcast Workflow) about improving his production workflow. Earlier today he also created a discovery website (with subtle hints of a webring) that acts as a discovery mechanism and network of sorts for microcasts which you might find interesting in light of your plans.
I might also submit that if you’re doing it for students, starting with small, short microcasts are always a quick way to get started.