I just learned that New York City doesn’t actually have alleys. Okay, they have a few private alleys. However, after listening to the latest 99% Invisible podcast, I learned that the idea of alleys throughout NYC is a bit of a myth. Does this matter? Probably not. But it’s what I love about podcasts. I love the surprise of learning random historical facts on Hardcore History or rethinking creativity from 99% Invisible. In other words, I love geeking out.
But it’s more than that. My favorite podcasts push my thinking and help me see things from a new perspective. I discover new frameworks and blueprints. They can be purely geeky or imminently practical.
As a former teacher and current professor, I’ve spent years having students create podcasts. While the platforms and audiences have evolved, I love the idea of students sharing their voice with an audience.
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What is Podcasting?
At its most basic level, a podcast is a series of audio files that you can download and listen to on pretty much any device. Most podcasts come in a series, with a schedule (daily, weekly, or monthly) but there are podcasts where all the files are available at once. Typically, podcast listeners will subscribe to their favorite podcasts using Stitcher, Google Play, or Apple Podcasts and the podcast comes through an RSS feed. However, that’s not always the case.
The following video explores what a podcast is and why your students might want to create their own podcasts:
The Advantages of Podcasting with Students
- It doesn’t take fancy equipment. Students can record and even edit audio on their smartphones or tablet. Often, videos will require the correct lighting or staging. However, a podcast is different because it’s limited to sound. Many of the tools are free. Students can edit audio with Audacity, which you can use on a Mac, PC, or in Linux.
- You can listen on the go. As a teacher, you can load all the audio to one place and listen on the way home. Similarly, students can listen to each other’s podcasts as well.
- It’s a chance for students to develop their voice. Students can own the entire process, from inquiry through research, through composition, editing, and launching. In the process, they can practice their public speaking skills, interview skills, and communication skills.
- It’s a way for all students to participate. Because you can prep ahead of time and edit afterward, I found that many introverts actually thrive when given the chance to podcast. Similarly, ELL students who might need additional language support have the time and space to practice ahead of time before recording.
- It develops lifelong skills. Students learn how to research, think critically, create, iterate, and empathize with an audience. In some cases, you might even have students market their podcasts and learn how to reach an authentic audience.
Things to Consider Before Podcasting:
Before getting started with student podcasts, consider the following:
- How much time do you want to spend on your podcasts? Will your students be editing the podcasts and adding audio or is this more of quick record? If you have time to spend on it, you can have students create well-polished podcasts. However, there’s nothing wrong with having students create podcasts quickly with a focus on the learning/processing of information. Consider, too, if you will have students create a single podcast and drop it as a binge-worthy season or if they’ll stick to a weekly schedule.
- Who is the intended audience? Think through whether you want students to publish to classmates, to parents, to the school, or to the larger global community. You’ll need to be sure that you are COPA and CIPPA compliant and that you have the correct media releases.
- Where will you house the podcasts? If you want to have a public podcast and reach a larger audience, you might want to go with a self-hosted WordPress site that will allow you to upload audio and create a feed on iTunes. However, you create a modified version of this by having students record the audio with a simple image in the background as a YouTube video or by posting a link on Google Drive.
- Is there a quiet space? It helps if you have permission to move outside but it might also help to use a foam device to reduce audio distractions.
- How will you keep it authentic? The last thing students want to do is create an audio worksheet or even an audio essay. A podcast is a different format and, on some level, a different genre of composition. How will you help students explore an audio-only format? What will they need to focus on?
- How is this supporting learning? In other words, how will you connect your podcast to the standards?
I love this guide that NPR put out recently. You should check it out if you’re interested in getting started with student podcasts.
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I am intrigued by this idea of student podcasting to showcase their learning. I will do some reflective thinking about how this would positively impact my junior high student’s learning.