Why are podcasts great tools for the classroom?
Students use a wide-range of skills to plan, prepare, record, and broadcast a podcast. They brainstorm ideas, assign roles, write a script, rehearse, check timings, practice their lines, edit their work, upload their podcasts, and often receive feedback from other students and listeners on the web.
Podcasts can be used across the curriculum in grades K-12 (and unlike some other web tools, they are great for young elementary students).
Making their work public motivates students to do their best work–their most creative, planned, and precise work.
How do I learn more about podcasts and podcasting?
Apple’s “Tips for Podcast Fans” includes links and how-tos
Podcasting in Plain English from the Commoncraft Show
What software and equipment do I need?
Surprisingly, little. At the very least, a computer/laptop that can handle the large files and Internet speed required–not a powerhouse, just about any computer that has been on the market for the past 4-5 years will suffice.
You can create podcasts on the fly with gcast (from a cell phone) or podomatic (directly on the web). You can’t edit the podcasts (at least not the 1st time around…you can download the MP3 file of your podcast after you record and upload it, edit it to your heart’s content, and then upload it back to the site), but both applications provide a quick and easy solution to podcasting.
If you don’t have editing software, you can download some for free. Check out Audacity, for both Windows and Mac. Mac users can also make use of GarageBand, which comes with new Macs, as part of the iLife suite of software. Any audio editing software that allows you to export MP3 files will work.
You can record directly onto your computer. It is wise to invest in an inexpensive USB microphone, but not necessary–if you record in a quiet place, you can use your computer’s built-in microphone. If you want to sound a little more pro, get a digital audio recorder. I like the ones by iAudio–they are small, inexpensive (a little over $100), you can use with or without a mic, and the quality is great.
You can get fancier mics, fancier software, fancier computers, but you don’t need much to get started.
Some Podcasts Direct from Classrooms:
“How to find a good website,” a podcast by students at The Neighborhood School, NYC
Ms. Chien’s Science Class Podcast from School of the Future, NYC