As podcasters ourselves, we have learned a lot and see a lot of value in podcasting for the classroom. That said, for those not in podcasting, the idea of creating one with students can seem daunting; there are so many tools, and the starting point isn’t always that clear. That’s where we step in! Podcasting really isn’t that scary, and can be simple to do in the classroom.
We will help you to understand why podcasts are great for the classroom, and how you can get started.
Believe it or not, podcasting is a fantastic way to get students talking, and is a natural scaffold to the writing process. Here are some of our top reasons to introduce podcasting with your students:
- To develop language Students, particularly language learners, are able to practise their oral language skills and practise using content-specific language by creating podcasts. And since oral language skills tend to be easier than formal writing skills, podcasting is a natural scaffold to written production.
- To connect students to an authentic audience Creating a podcast allows students to share their thoughts with a wide variety of listeners beyond the classroom.
- To develop skills Podcasts require a wide range of skills, such as planning, research, reasoning and communication. Podcasting gives students the opportunity to practise these skills in a different way than the traditional presentation or written assignment.
- To build community Podcasting can support class- or school-wide community building. Being able to share their voice could have a positive effect on students’ feelings of recognition and belonging in the school community.
As a bonus, it’s easy to get started. Podcasts don’t require much in the way of equipment. These days, almost all students have access to a cell phone or a device that can be used to capture audio.
Podcast creation process
Podcasting isn’t as complicated as you might think. There are four main phases in the podcasting process: Identify, plan, record, and share.
- Identify This phase has students choosing a topic of interest. It can be curriculum-focused or interest-based, depending on your learning goal. When first starting or introducing podcasting with your students, you may want to consider a low stakes, non-curricular focus to get students comfortable with the process.
- Plan The planning phase has students researching and developing their content. Similar to an essay or project, this is where students are planning out the main ideas that they want to discuss. This is also where they can decide the format that they will use. This could be an interview, a conversation with an expert or guest, or a monologue.
- Record The recording phase is exactly what it sounds like! This is where students can choose their tool and hit record. This does not require any fancy equipment or tools; a cell phone, Chromebook, tablet, or computer can be used. It’s all about getting it done, so use what works best for your classroom and your students. The only requirement is that the device has a microphone. Perfect sound quality is not the big goal here – go for done, not perfect, and focus on the content of the podcast.
Here are some simple and free recording tools to consider:
- Online Voice Recorder (from 123 Apps)
- Voice memo apps (iOS, Android)
The above tools are a great starting point for any skill level. They are simple to use and only require a student to click on record, and then click stop when they are done. The web-based tools will then give you the option to download the mp3 file.
If you have access, here are some additional tools to consider:
- GarageBand (iOS, MacOS)
- Audacity (Mac, Windows, Linux)
- Sound Cloud
- Audio recorder in PowerPoint
4. Share This doesn’t have to be public; it can be as simple as curating each student’s work on a collaborative slide deck (think PowerPoint or Google Slides), or simply sharing a folder that houses all of the audio files (Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.) with the class.
That being said, you may want to build toward creating a podcast that can be shared with a wider audience, such as your school community. Building in an authentic audience can help to create buy-in and motivation for students.
How to get started?
Podcasting is likely a new concept for your students, so it is important to scaffold the process as much as possible so that students can experience success with this new modality.
As a teacher, your first step should be to expose your students to the podcasting format. There are so many student-friendly podcasts, so a simple search should provide a wealth of options (See Student-Friendly Podcasts for some suggestions). While listening together, you can then identify the different components, such as an intro, an outro, and the different segment structures.
From there, identify what skills you want your students to demonstrate in their podcast. This is a totally new format for most students, so be sure to provide a planner, a template, and a means of brainstorming ideas either independently or as a class. This is also a time to help support students with skills such as pronunciation, language, and communication in general. This may be an uncomfortable format for many students at first, so they will need time to practise and get used to podcasting.
If students want to interview a guest, it is important to go over questioning techniques, question formation, and interview etiquette. You might consider offering a set of question starters or stems to scaffold the question creation process. A quick internet search will help you find lots of ideas to get started.
Podcasting doesn’t have to be an immediate or short-term goal. It is possible to scaffold it in such a way that you help your students to build the skills over a longer period of time, with the end goal of producing their own podcast by the end of the semester or term.
As with all things web-based, it is extremely important to consider the privacy and protection of student data when sharing the podcast. Make sure that you check with your administration, get permission from parents or guardians, and also review Board policies to ensure that you are not potentially putting students at risk.
First published in Education Canada, September 2022
Student-Friendly Podcasts to Check Out
- Brains On (Grades 1–6)
- But Why: A podcast for curious kids (Grades K–5)
- Code Switch (Grades 9–12)
- Science Friday (Grades 6–12)
- Stuff You Should Know (Grades 9–12)
- The Past and the Curious (Grades 3–8)
- Wow in the World (Grades K–5)
The EduGals Podcast E050: Podcasting in the Classroom https://edugals.com/podcasting-in-the-classroom-e050
The EduGals Podcast E083: Leveraging Audio in the Classroom https://edugals.com/leveraging-audio-in-the-classroom-e083
Blog Post: Student-Created Podcasts Made Easy with Screencastify https://edugals.com/student-created-podcasts-made-easy-with-screencastify