In this episode, we are going to explore podcasting in the classroom. We thought that we would share something that is near and dear to our hearts, so that you can share this interactive learning format with your students. And what better way to celebrate our 50th episode than to share this amazing format, and how your students can use it to demonstrate their learning?!
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This week, we are going to be talking all about podcasting in the classroom: what you can do with your students, and how you can set up podcasting assignments.
Episode 50 feels like a celebration, so we thought we would share how you can incorporate this with your own students and classroom. We will share how you can set it up, and how you can make it work!
Podcasting is a great format for all learners, introverts and extroverts alike! All students can share their voice – their opinions, thoughts, learning, etc. Many of our students struggle with live presentations, and podcasting is a way to take away that anxiety and stress, you can simply pause and try again!
This format also gives students the opportunity to prepare ahead of time, go over their material, and then record themselves when they are ready.
Some podcasts are live, which has a whole other level of stress, but not all podcasts have to be live!
We speak often about English Language Learners (ELLs), but this is about more than just that population! Don’t get us wrong, podcasting is an amazing way to get ELLs talking and focusing on oral language development.
That being said, podcasting gives all learners the chance to get comfortable with content specific vocabulary. The more comfortable students are with such academic language, the more likely they are to retain that information and be more successful.
For example, science is such a language heavy curriculum area. Being able to talk about and explain science concepts is an amazing way to demonstrate learning, and to reinforce the curriculum learned in class.
We often struggle to come up with an authentic audience to listen to or observe student learning. With podcasting, the authentic audience is built in! Students (or anyone really) are creating a podcast for a specific, target audience – this is part of their planning process. As such, an authentic audience is built right into the podcasting format, helping students to more effectively plan their episode or material.
Whole Class Buy-in
The great thing about a class podcast is that you’re able to get everyone involved in the process. Often, if students know there is the possibility of sharing this class project, they are much more likely to put in the effort, complete their part, and help the class to be successful.
Develop Logic and Arguments
Podcasting isn’t just simply hitting record. There is an entire process involved in designing an episode: what content to include, what not to include, research on your topic, etc. This process is a great way for students to work on logic and arguments. They have to plan out the content, making sure that it will fit within a certain timeframe, that the content and format is logical, and that it is relevant.
Another way of thinking about it is that podcasting could be similar to an essay but presented orally. Students can present their thesis statement, arguments, and the specific details that they also then have to explain. It could be a potential scaffold to a written essay – allowing students to explore the format in a spoken format, before transitioning to writing.
By doing a class podcast, you are creating very important connections in your classroom. Each student has a role to play in the podcast, making sure they each do their job to help the final product be successful.
You can rely on the strengths of each of your students. Perhaps someone loves editing audio or video – let them edit the episode’s audio! Other jobs or roles to consider: podcast hosts/co-hosts, episode visuals, notes for the episode, a logo for the podcast, etc.
Podcasting is a great opportunity to build relationships within your classroom, which makes this an important option for students.
Want to build community in your school? Why not a school-wide podcast?! After the past year or so of covid, many of our school communities will really need to figure out a way to get students and staff connected. A school-wide podcast could be the answer.
You could have different classes create an episode each week, posting it or sharing it through your school’s website. And the school’s graphic design class could develop the artwork to accompany this podcast!
There are such great ways to get students interacting and sharing with one another through the creation of such a podcast, building some meaningful connections in the process. This could really help honour the voices of each and every student in our buildings.
Podcasting is also a great way to build skills that students may not ever get exposed to in traditional classroom settings. Editing, creation of artwork/visuals, etc. are skills that most students may never get to acquire normally. This activity allows students to practice and develop these skills, which then opens up more opportunities for possible career pathways. A student may discover a love for editing audio or graphic design, which could then translate to a career that they want to pursue – you never know!
A Little Less Intimidating
While we’ve discussed it already, podcasting is a lot less intimidating than videos, flipgrids, etc. It’s worth mentioning again, because it’s important that we consider all students and how comfortable they may or may not be in our classrooms. Podcasting allows students to build their confidence by getting involved in the steps, and working towards recording themselves, which is typically less stressful than an in-person or video presentation.
How to Prepare For A Podcast
It isn’t as simple as just hitting record. It’s important to do a bit of research so that you can help your students to be prepared and successful.
Step One: Explore Similar Podcasts
Have students find and listen to a few different podcasts of similar content. Students can get some inspiration from these podcasts, can figure out a structure that works for them, a style that works best for your class, etc.
There are so many different podcast styles to consider. Some examples are: interviewing guests (each episode has a different guest), monologue (one person speaking for the entire episode), conversational, and so much more.
If you are doing a class podcast, you don’t have to stick with one structure or style, but you can allow students to choose what works for them for that particular episode. The goal is to let students be comfortable enough to prepare and create their episode.
Step Two: Determine Skills Needed
Based on the style or structure, consider what skills you need to teach to your class in order to create an effective podcast episode.
For example, if you want to interview a guest, you will want to teach questioning techniques so that your students can develop effective, open ended questions that aren’t answered with a simple one or two word answer. The goal is to start a conversation, so questioning techniques are super important.
Step Three: What Scaffolds or Supports are Needed?
Some learners may struggle with language, pronunciation, or communication in general, so it is important to consider how you can best support these students. For some, this could be a very stressful task, so it’s important to build in practice and opportunities to ensure all students can be successful.
Step Four: Digital Citizenship
When creating anything in the digital world, it’s important for educators to embed lessons about digital citizenship. We need students to be aware of what information they are sharing on the internet, the language that they are using, and they need to know how to protect themselves and their personal information.
Ask them: Would you want your parents to hear this? Your teachers? Your principal? Your future employer?
Students should not be sharing their full names online, whether through a podcast, blog or any digital platform. Even allowing students to use a pseudonym or code name to allow for an added layer of protection or comfort. Code names could actually even add an extra layer of excitement and curriculum, by having students represent a person that has contributed to a particular field.
Don’t forget to tap into the knowledge and lived experiences of all students in your class, including newcomers! Many students that have studied in different countries bring with them a wealth of knowledge that most here may not know. Allow students to share some of this knowledge if they are comfortable.
Setting Up a Podcast
Now that we’ve talked about the steps you should take to get prepared or ready to record a podcast, let’s get into the fun part of how to physically set up and record a podcast!
There are many different equipment options to consider, and what works for you and your class will depend on funding, what you have already, etc. Do you absolutely need an audio interface and/or microphones? Absolutely not!
Phones to Record
It can be as simple as recording using the Voice Memo app on a cell phone. The sound quality isn’t too bad, particularly if students use headphones with a mic, and students are typically quite comfortable with their own device. Once it is recorded, students can upload it to a shared folder, or email it to the teacher. If editing, it can then be edited, any sort intro/outro can be added, and then you have a final product!
Using Chromebooks or Computers to Record
Chromebook? Use Screencastify! You can record an episode using this awesome tool, and then download the audio only. It can then be placed in a shared folder for editing and ease of access. We love Screencastify, as many of our listeners know, and our students are used to this tool, which is a bonus!
Do you have a WeVideo licence? You can use WeVideo to record the audio as well! You can even build full podcast episodes in this tool. That being said, make sure you and/or your school has a licence so that it can be collaborative. Check out this video that Rachel created for Global GEG all about how to create a podcast in WeVideo.
Have a computer? You could use Audacity, GarageBand, Hindenburg (Thanks, Stephen Hurley from VoicEd Radio!), or any other audio recording and audio software program. There are varying costs involved, so it’s important to look at what you have, what you need, and your long term goals for podcasting. Rachel is also involved in a podcast for our Board. Check it out here.
Having guests? Consider using Zencastr, a web-based audio recording app. This allows people from different places to connect and record each audio track separately. You have the option to “see” one another, similar to Zoom or Google Meet, or you can just have audio only.
Reminder to teacher: Make sure that it is the teacher that creates any account needed, so that students do not have to create accounts using their personal information.
Podcasting really can be as simple or as advanced as you want it to be. Remember that the goal is to get students talking.
Want to invest in equipment? Consider purchasing USB dynamic microphones. Condenser mics tend to pick up all of the noises in a room, so they are less ideal. It can be done, but definitely not as easy as a dynamic mic, which tends to pick up the noises right in front of the mic, versus all around the room.
How Private is Your Podcast?
Student privacy is so important. So, it’s important to consider the following questions: are you going to publish your podcast? Is it a classroom resource just for your class? Do you want to share it school-wide? With parents? What steps should you take to ensure that your students are protected?
Our best advice: talk to you administrators! Figure out what is needed, what permissions are needed, and what the limits are in terms how public you can make a podcast. Make sure you have these conversations BEFORE you proceed with the creation so that you know that you are supported and protected, and your students are not put at risk.
Some Boards are pretty good about providing clear guidelines with respect to software and apps allowed to be used. Our Board also sends home forms at the beginning of each school year that deal with media and the use of images, etc. of students. Parents can choose to allow images, etc of their students on social media, images around the school, etc., they can limit the use of images, or they can opt to keep images of their students private, which means that they cannot be used in any sort of post, yearbook, etc.
The best thing you can do? Communicate and confirm that students and families are comfortable with having their child share a podcast in class. The most important part is that parents are aware and supportive of a published episode.
Sharing Your Podcast
Okay, so you’ve gone through all of the prep and recording, now where do you host a podcast? It isn’t as simple as just recording an episode, and voila! Podcasting has the additional need to have a site where it can be hosted.
One solution is to upload an image or multiple images on YouTube, with the episode recording as the audio. You could keep that video private, or unlisted, sharing as appropriate.
Want to share within your school community? Just upload the podcast audio to your Google Drive and share the link. Just be sure to change the permissions so that people can actually access and listen.
Tips based on our EduGals Journey
- Chris Nesi – He has shared out some awesome podcasting resources. Check it out!
- Prep vs Script – It’s a fine line of how much you can prep and script. Too much scripting can make conversation really difficult. A basic outline is helpful, but allow for the conversation to evolve naturally.
Hopefully we have given you some great ideas and starting points to get podcasting with your class! We hope that you give it a try with your students, and would love to hear any ideas you have, or podcasting projects that you have tried! Leave us a message on our Flipgrid, or leave a comment here on our website!