So You Want Your Students To Create a Podcast?

Two years ago I went to a podcasting workshop and got really excited about trying it out with my students. For some reason, I just didn't get myself comfortable and organized enough to try teaching it until just this year. After my first go-around, I thought I'd share some tips based on my experience.

  1. Spend some time discussing beforehand what a podcast is. Look at examples of podcasts created for students and podcasts created by students. I found this wiki to be very useful: Examples of Educational Podcasts.
  2. Discuss the basic parts of a podcast: intro (episode name, tagline, etc...), bumper music, segments, outro. This Radio WillowWeb Handbook is a great resource. 
  3. Make sure that students write out a script for their part. It will save time in the long run. It helps if they have their thoughts written down when they begin recording. Without a script, there are a lot of mistakes made and time wasted.
  4. For our first attempt, I didn't make any rules about how many students were recording at a time. There were a lot of groups who wanted to have a conversation style segment in their podcast. This ended up becoming a problem. Most of the groups got silly and giggly instead of getting their work done. On our second attempt, I said that only one person could speak in each segment. It really helped speed up the process. Just a thought!
  5. I would also strongly suggest that you have the students record their parts in chronological order. There will be less editing necessary later. Another time-saving tip!
  6. We recorded our audio clips using Audacity which you can download for free to a pc. You could use GarageBand if you are on a Mac. Before students begin recording their audio for the podcast, spend some time showing them how to use the program. I also created short videos showing how to record audio, how to save the project, how to use the editing tools, and more for students to use as a reference later. I stored these videos on our school server for easy student access.
  7. Make sure to have background music available for students to use or sites that they can download music from. I had students download music from Television Tunes. Be sure to adhere to copyright laws.
  8. Give the students a reason to create their podcast. My students did book reviews which I posted on the Library page of our school website. They were told that other students and parents would be listening to them. This was a motivator to do a nice job.
After my first experience teaching podcasting, I can confidently say that I will be doing this again next year. The students had a lot of fun! They'll be able to use this knowledge to create podcasts for other classes too.

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