Hours of exposure to digital devices from mp3 players to online searches to digitally recorded television has this entire generation planted firmly in the digital world.
So, how can educators tap into digital tools as a means of imparting vital information to their students? One way is to creatively implement podcasting in the classroom.
Nuts and Bolts of Podcasting
There was a time when a podcast was one of those technologies that only the biggest geeks took part in. In fact, the name itself comes from Apple’s iPod which, at the time, was one of the few tools that could play a podcast. Times have changed and podcasts can be played back on home computers, mobile phones, a wide variety of mp3 players, and even presented publicly in a classroom setting.
Production of podcasts has gotten extremely easy as well. In fact, if you have a computer and a microphone of some sort, you can have a podcast. The advent of voice over the internet (VOIP) and new technologies such as video conferencing have encouraged computer makers to install inboard microphones as a standard feature in new computers, So, your computer might already have a microphone installed.
A computer, microphone, simple recording software like Audacity and some creativity is all you need to create podcasts that give your students multiple educational benefits.
Basic Podcast Production for the Educator
Creativity: The Many Uses of Podcasts
In his book Jump Start Your Brain Doug Hall reminds us that the power of brainstorming sessions is that ideas spark other ideas. So, in the name of sparking some creative ideas of your own, here is a list of ways educators are currently using podcasting to teach their young pupils:
- Record a class discussion
- Recording student reports and projects
- Presenting difficult concepts that require repetition
- Hosting a school talk show
- Book reviews
- Recording lectures that ill students can access via the web
- Commercials or skits for upcoming school events
Glean ideas from this list or try
Production: From Vision to Completed Project
Your computer might come with a microphone already installed. To find out if you have a microphone, go to your Control Panel (Windows) or System Preferences (Mac) and look for your sound output. Say something out loud and see if the meter jumps. If it does, you have a microphone and are ready to record. If not, inexpensive microphones that plug into your USB slot can be purchased at your nearest office supply store for around $20.
Once you have a working microphone, the only thing you have left to install is a podcasting software. If you’re a mac user, you may already have a copy of Garage Band installed on your machine. Otherwise, Audacity has a powerful podcasting tool that’s free for either Mac or PC. Mp3s are the standard for audio files and can be played on a variety of devices and, unfortunately, regulations don’t allow Audacity to add the mp3 encoder to their basic package.
You now have the tools to turn your vision into a fantastic podcast that will continue instructing your students for years to come.
Here is a article that describes more podcasting tools.
iTunes U — a powerful distribution system for everything from lectures to language lessons, films to labs, audiobooks to tours — is an innovative way to get educational content into the hands of students.
The absolute best place to share your podcast is probably through your own Board of Education website. I know many BOE’s have web pages devoted to their local schools’ videos and podcasts. This is a very important place to check out as far as sharing your podcasts as these links will be used primarily by your local community. Example – Hamblen County Schools post their school’s podcasts online.
Mabry Middle School provides an excellent example of a middle school with a stellar podcast site online.
Here is a great list of student podcasts throughout the US.
Educational Benefits of Podcasting
The following is just a short list of some of the benefits podcasting brings to the field of education:
- Podcasts can be reused year after year
- Greater student engagement
- Increased class enthusiasm
- Extremely interactive
- Can be shared with the world via the internet
- Can be used to help ill students keep pace
Most importantly, podcasting is a fun way for students of all ages to learn.
Podcaster, from Blastwave FX, is a sound effects, music and imaging elements library of 500 web ready MP3 sounds.
This package starts off with loopable beats to give your podcast the pulse and energy it needs. Next, there’s a well rounded selection of 200 general sound effects including Animals, Cartoon Effects, Crashes, Human Effects, Vehicles, Weapons and more.
There’s also a section of 200 imaging elements that can be used to accent, punctuate and highlight virtually anything! Finally, there’s a collection of 50 multimedia sounds to help your audience interface with your show.