The Teacher’s Guide to Student Podcasting

The Teacher's Guide to Student Podcasting

Are you a teacher looking to try something new that your students will get excited about?  In this blog post, we share the Teacher’s Guide to Student Podcasting. The Teacher’s Guide to Podcasting provides you with:

  • Step-by-step guidance on how to transform your classroom into a recording studio
  • Tips on how to set up a podcast using equipment that you currently have access too
  • Suggested edtech tools (apps and programs) that will support podcasting
  • A student planning guide that helps students organize their podcasts to ensure a quality recording

We get it, setting up a student podcasting project can be a time-consuming and daunting task.  Often, teachers will dismiss the project right away because they think podcasting is something very different.  The Teacher’s Guide to Student Podcasting is made to:

  • Help teachers understand the different methods of podcasting
  • Provide teachers with templates to help their students organize their podcasts
  • Introduce teachers and students to simple-to-use and cost-effective (often free) edtech tools
  • Make podcasting a reality in the classroom

Join us on this podcasting adventure as we break down student podcasting into 6 simple steps!

Quick Links:

  • Step #1: Podcast Definition/Purpose
  • Step #2: Planning
  • Step #3: Equipment
  • Step #4: Recording
  • Step #5: Editing
  • Step #6: Publishing

Step 1: Podcast Definition/Purpose

If you would go and look up the definition of a podcast in a dictionary you would read a definition that resembled the following:

  1.  A digital audio file or digital recording (simplest definition)
  2.  A digital audio file meant for downloading to a computer or mobile device
  3.  A digital audio file meant for downloading to a computer or mobile device that is available as a series of which can be received by subscribers automatically through an RSS feed. (complex definition)

You might select a different definition based on the purpose behind the podcast experience. After sitting down with several of my peers, we have identified three main reasons why students would take up podcasting.

  1. Single Experience:
    • This is a digital recording that may be used for a project.  The audience is limited to the group members and the teacher. This type of podcast is typically submitted to a teacher through an mp3 or wav file.
  2. Classroom Experience:
    • This is a digital recording that targets a small group audience such as a class or grade level.  Often, the class is broken into small groups with each group representing a different but relatable topic (i.e., America in the 1920s).  This type of podcast can be hosted on a platform such as YouTube as a part of a YouTube Channel or playlist. The teacher could use these podcasts for group learning in a gallery walk or a scaffolded assignment.
  3. Club Experience:
    • This is a series of digital recordings that have a large target audience and a single theme.   You may try this type of podcast if you are in a school club or tv production class. This type of podcast typically has a RSS feed and is found on platforms such as iTunes, Google Play, and/or Spotify.

Now that we have a general understanding of what a podcast is and what it looks like. Let’s take a look at the 5 simple steps in student podcasting.

Step 2: Planning

The planning of the podcast is the key to success.  Planning doesn’t mean scripting out each sentence word-for-word.  Podcasts are meant to be informal and entertaining. Check out our Student Podcast Planning Guide which breaks down the planning of a student podcast into 8 phases.

Category #1: Focus

The focus category of the planning consists of basic information of the podcast (this is a rough draft) including:

  • Podcast Title/Episode Title
    • Content matches the episode title
      • This is the first introduction of the episode to your audience
  • General Topics to be Included
    • Each topic can be a new segment
      • Each topic should be connected to the overall theme
  • General Questions to be Answered During the Episode
    • Questions should relate to topics
      • Reflect on these questions after the recording to make sure these questions were answered
  • Targeted Length
    • Podcasts come in various lengths.  My general rule of thumb is to go until you are not producing quality content.
    • Podcasting Vocabulary:
      • Podcast Byte:  A podcast under 5 minutes
      • Podcast Segment: 1 part of a show
      • Podcast Episode:  A show that consists of many parts.  In its most basic form, it’s an introduction,  podcast segment, conclusion.

Category #2: Roles

There are several roles in developing a podcast.  It is possible for one person to assume all of the roles.   However, with most student projects the roles are shared among 2-4 students.  Some roles that should be considered are:

  • Producer- Helps with the storyboard, content, and direction of the podcast.
  • Host/Co-Host- Leads the narratives of the show.
  • Guests- Offers an area of expertise or experience with the topic.
  • Editor- For some podcasts, the editor position is part of the producer’s job.  The editor is responsible for editing the audio, which includes adding sound (music/sound-bytes) and publishing the podcast.

Category #3: Interviews

The interview category is where my students took their podcasting to the next level. The quality of the podcasts typically increased when students found a professional (teacher or community member) or a guest (another student) to come onto their podcast. Student buy-in was evident, and the quality of their podcast was exponentially better.

Category #4: Segments

Podcasting is similar to writing a paper in that it consists of a beginning, middle, and an end. In podcasting, the beginning is known as the introduction segment, the middle is known as segment(s), and the ending is known as a concluding segment.  Students should plan out the topics that will be included in each segment.

Category #5: Audio

Choosing the right audio is an important part of creating a professional and enjoyable podcast. Regular listeners will eventually come to know your podcast by its distinct musical selections. Here are some things to consider:

  • Intro music:
    • Choose audio that you’ll use at the beginning of each episode. Make sure it fits the overall tone and theme you’re going for. If your show topics are light and positive, choose music to match! Remember that this is something listeners will associate with your show.
  • Outro music:
    • You have a little more freedom in the selection of your outro music, so have fun with it. We like music that is slow and relaxing since the show is winding down.
  • Segment separators:
    • Select brief snippets of instrumental music that separate each segment.  This gives listeners a break, makes listening more enjoyable, and lets them know that a new segment is starting.  You can use the same music for every separator or find several different ones.
  • Sound effects:
    • Naturally occurring sound effects are always best.  Listeners get a more vibrant mental image when they can hear light background noise that describes your environment.  For example, if you record the show while walking in the woods, it might help to capture the audio of your footsteps in the dried leaves.  Just be careful that this isn’t too loud or distracting. You can also download added sounds effects and add them in later. For example, if you’re talking about baseball, you might download some crowd noise and add it as an “audio bed” behind your narrative.
  • Here are some of our favorite places to find free, public domain podcast audio:

Category #6: Introduction

The introduction to the podcasts typically consists of the name of the podcast, episode title, hosts of the show, guests of the show, and a brief synopsis of what will be covered in the episode.

Category #7: Conclusion

The conclusion to the podcast should be incorporated to address the audience and should consist of a “thank you for listening” to the podcast, a brief recap of what was covered in the episode, and a place to find additional information related to the podcast.

Category #8: Outline

The outline should give each member of the podcast an idea of where the podcast is heading. The outline should include the information that will be covered in each segment as well as any references used in the research that that was done while creating the podcast.

Step #3 Equipment

The equipment for podcasting will fluctuate depending on the budget, what is already available to you, and the level of interest you have in podcasting.

Mobile Devices and Desktops

For teachers, the best budget is a free budget so here are a few free scenarios where you can podcast using equipment that you (or your students) may already have access to. Most students have a cell phone, iPad, Chromebook, laptop, and/or Desktop that they own that have the capability of recording audio, editing audio, and publishing their content to a host server.  With the improvements of modern-day mobile devices and desktops, specifically the microphone and speakers, podcasts can be done at a quality level.

External Microphones

The purchase of an external microphone can significantly improve the sound quality of your podcast. We suggest investing in a mic that is USB capable and can be used in any device that has a USB port. Here are some microphones that We recommend:

Click on each microphone for a review of the microphone:

1. Yeti USB Microphone

 

2. Snowball Mic

 

3. AT2005 USB/XLR

 

4. Heil PR40

 

Step #4 Recording/Step #5:/Editing

Many edtech tools are useful in recording and editing a podcast.  The images below show the programs that we have used for student podcasting and their capabilities.  Most podcasters like to stick to what they know works.

VocarooSimple Audio Recorder

 Audacity

Twisted Wave

Anchor

Videos:

How to use Vocaroo for Student Podcasting

How to use Twisted Wave for Student Podcasting

Our recommendations for student podcasting:

  1. Vocaroo and Simple Audio Recorder (Extension) for simple recordings of sound bytes, segments,  and short podcasts.
  2. Twisted Wave (Extension) editing or recording of longer podcasts
  3. Audacity: Our favorite tool for recording and editing if the students have access to a desktop or laptop.
  4. Anchor for a one-stop shop of podcasting.

Step #6: Publishing

Publishing a podcast simply refers to the method by which you make it publicly available. This can be done in a variety of ways, so let’s start with the simplest one: YouTube.  This is free and requires the least amount of effort and background knowledge.  The only hurdle is that your podcast audio needs to be converted to a video format before it can be posted on YouTube.  A screen recorder such as Screencast-o-Matic, Screencastify, or Loom will record whatever audio your computer plays along with whatever is on the screen.  Simply choose a fitting background image, enlarge it to cover the whole computer screen, start the screen recording, and hit play on your podcast audio.  When finished, the screencast recorder will have merged your screens background image with the podcast audio into one video file that can easily be pushed to YouTube for posting.  Programs like WeVideo will also allow you to combine your pre-recorded podcast audio with images of your choosing, creating a video that can be posted to YouTube.

For a traditional podcast posting that pushes audio to iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify, consider signing up for a devoted podcast hosting platforms such as Anchor or Libsyn. Anchor is a one-stop-shop for podcast publishing and hosting that has become extremely popular.   This free service allows you to record an episode from any mobile device, co-host with friends via multiple mobile devices, edit the episode, and automatically post it to all services (Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, etc.).  They also have built-in tools for monetizing your podcast and analyzing your listener stats. Did We mention it’s free? Libsyn is another service that makes it extremely easy to post and share your audio with all the top podcast listening services.  We like Libsyn because you can easily transfer all your episodes to other services if you ever decide to switch. This is not the case with all other hosting services so be careful who you chose. Libsyn will require a small monthly fee, however, for the storage of your audio.

About the author, Eric

Eric Guise is a media specialist and technology coach with more than a decade of experience as a teacher.

Eric was named the 2016 Biology Teacher of Year by the New Jersey Biology Teachers Association and is currently pursuing an EdD in Leadership in Digital Transformation in Educational Technology.

Leave a Comment