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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles: Use New Technology to Reinforce Instruction

How to Podcast: Some Tips for Starting Out
Sandy Scragg

1. Tools: Much can be done just with a computer, but it helps to have a few extra tools at your disposal. A microphone goes a long way toward sounding more professional, as well as helping to increase clarity and sound quality. Other good choices are a personal digital recorder (I have one by iAudio and the quality is quite good) or a new gadget that works with an iPod, iTalk. Whatever recorder you purchase, make sure that it automatically creates MP3 files of your recordings--it makes life that much easier if you need to edit the podcast later. Headphones are not necessary, but helpful.

2. Planning & Scripting: Are you creating a personal podcast or are you creating a podcast of a public speaking performance? If you are creating your own podcast, it helps to create a script of what you are going to say--not necessarily word-for-word, but planning is essential. If you are podcasting a public speech, you should inform the speaker that you will be recording her or him, and get their permission.

3. Recording: Capture the audio recording under the best possible conditions. Choose a room with no or low echo that is as quiet as possible. Right now, worry about being clear--you can add cool effects later. If you are recording in a new space, always test the conditions first to see where you should position the microphone or recorder to capture the best sound. Wear headphones directly hooked up to the recorder to listen to the sound being recorded.

4. Editing: Audio editing has become much easier and more accessible. A free editor is Audacity, which can be downloaded for free. All Mac computers come with GarageBand, which allows easy export to iTunes and the web. Search Google or YouTube for tutorials on how to use Audacity or GarageBand--there are plenty of free resources on the web which will walk you through how to use the software in a step-by-step manner. You don’t have to edit a podcast, but it is both practical (deleting coughs, pauses, etc.) and fun (adding sound effects).

5. Polishing: Part of the editing process to consider is how much you want to embellish your podcast. Do you want to leave it pretty much as-is or create a music soundtrack? What about an introduction? Do you want to add sound effects? Do you want to add images or video? What about adding clapping or cheers (or boos)? These are all things to consider if you are making this podcast public.

6. Publishing: Putting your podcast up on the web is part of the process, since sharing the content with the world is what podcasting is all about. You can publish the podcast to any web site, but the most practical is to put the podcast on a blog. Blogs are easy to create, they are free, and blogs, with feed capacity, are easy for others to find. Make sure that your podcast is an MP3 file, and check with your blog service about how best to upload audio files (usually found in the help section). Some popular blog services are blogger.com, wordpress.com, livejournal.com, and edublogs.org.

OR, to get started and create a rough podcast, check out gcast.com. It lets you create and share a podcast all in one step. It doesn’t sound very pro, but it’s easy, simple, and fast.

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

See also: Creating Classroom Podcasts by Allisyn Levy


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