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WebMentors Teacher Helpline: NYC Helpline: How To: Incorporate Technology in the Classroom

Creating Classroom Podcasts
Allisyn Levy

Since the word “podcast” started getting thrown around, I have always been under the assumption that it referred to audio files only. To be honest, I wasn’t that excited about it. I’ve recently learned that podcasts can also include video, and I started thinking more about how this could be used in a classroom.

Because our large class sizes don’t make it very easy to accomplish all of the multimedia projects we might dream of, I am always looking for projects that are adaptable for a typical classroom of 20 – 30+ students. I realized that creating classroom podcasts could be one those projects that I might actually be able to pull off! By having students record audio and/or video either individually or in small groups, podcasts can become a successful classroom project.

A classic mantra of teaching is that the best way to internalize something you’ve learned is to teach it to someone else. By recording students as a form of documenting their learning, I can give them an authentic audience with whom to share their knowledge. Better yet, by teaching them how to record themselves and one another, I can set up a year-round system that they can (mostly) independently choose to create as a classroom activity or project, just as they would creating a poster or writing a book report. Because of the multimedia tools involved, podcasts have become way more appealing to many students than your average poster or book report!

Podcasts can be fairly quick and rough ways of communicating. Because they do not require much editing or polishing, they are manageable in a classroom setting. Here’s how I’d use podcasting, whether audio or visual, with my students.

  1. Have students write a script for their podcasts. This could be a rough outline or a multi-draft, finished paper, but it must show that the student(s) have thoughtfully planned out and practiced their podcast.
  2. After approving their script, I teach students how to use a USB microphone and iMovie to record their podcast. I like iMovie because I can use it for an audio-only podcast or for video as well, and I’m able to hand over the editing to the students because of its ease of use. In iMovie, simply click on the Audio tab and use the record/pause button. Be sure your settings reflect an external microphone as your input if you are using one.
  3. Have students can take turns being the “audio engineer” and record themselves. This is a great way for them to hear their own mistakes or the quality of their voice, fluency, etc., and be self-motivated to improve. Once they have a recording they are happy with, save the file. We are ready to make any quick edits.
  4. To edit a podcast, I teach students to focus on the beginning and ending of the podcast. They want to pad both ends of the recording with at least five seconds of silence. This applies to video recording as well. We can edit this down later, but it ensures that none of their words will be missed. It’s also a nice place to add a bit of intro/outro music. iMovie makes it extremely easy to import music from a CD or from iTunes in that same Audio tab. Be creative!
  5. Finally, once the students are happy with their podcasts, you can Export (now under the Share menu) your podcast and play it for the class, burn a CD, or post it online.

Podcasting with your students is a great multimedia tool to consider adding into your classroom repetoire. Once learned, it’s something students can create fairly independently, and an impressive way to communicate their thoughts. Kicks a newsletter up a notch, too!

Do you have a question or comment about this article? E-mail Allisyn.


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