Podcasting Challenge

Age Range: 5 - 11

As part of my role, I am sometimes asked to support other schools with ICT work. This might involve training teachers or teaching demo lessons at their schools. Recently, I had the challenge of going into another school and showing them how to podcast. Although I've been podcasting with children at my own school for many years, this situation presented me with a number of potential issues:

  • I had very little knowledge of the children, their level (and range) of ability, the school situation or the resources available to us.
  • We only had one afternoon in which to go through the entire podcasting process... planning / scripting / rehearsing / recording / publishing. Normally, I run through this process over the course of a week (or longer).
  • There were 30 pupils in the class... I'd never tried making a whole podcast with so many children in such a short space of time!
  • The school only uses PCs, and my own school podcasts have always been produced using Garageband on Apple computers.

So, the afternoon was going to be a challenge for everyone - including myself! Having said that, it all went extremely well. The children worked incredibly hard, collaborating effectively as a team and producing a really professional podcast which they were then able to go home and listen to online the same day.

We used a number of free tools to make things run more smoothly.

  • E.ggTimer - After a brief introduction, we started our timer... giving ourselves 90 minutes to completely make the podcast. The online timer was a great motivational tool... when we minimized the window on the interactive whiteboard, we could still see the timer counting down on the Windows taskbar, which was very handy.
  • Audacity - I'm sure that most people are familiar with Audacity. I'd only used it briefly before the podcasting session this week, but I was impressed with the power of the software (although I still prefer Garageband!). If you haven't tried yet, give it a whirl... if you want to make MP3 files of your recordings, don't forget to download the LAME MP3 encoder too. We used Audacity to make some jingles (using copyright free audio), and also to put the show together (including the jingles, introductions, features, interviews etc).
  • PrimaryPad - As there were so many children involved, PrimaryPad seemed like a perfect way of compiling the script. Each team was given access to a single document, on which I had previously prepared a simple template, so that the groups could add their part of the show. The pupils had never used PrimaryPad before, but they took to it incredibly well... as we were working in different parts of the school (with some children researching in the ICT suite and others back in the classroom preparing items), we could all see how far each group had got by browsing through the PrimaryPad document.
  • Podomatic - I wasn't able to add files to the school's website, so we used the free hosting offered by Podomatic. This was extremely easy to use, and the site set up the RSS / iTunes links automatically.
  • Delicious - The children were split into teams and each team was responsible for creating one section of the podcast... based around news / jokes / school news / interviews etc. To save time, I wanted to set up links to relevant websites in advance so that the children could click straight through to all of the sites and services that would be useful for making the show (e.g. BBC Newsround, children's jokes sites). This worked extremely well, and I also added links to our Primarypad document (to save the children typing in the complex URLs provided by the site) and to the Podomatic site where the podcast would be hosted (so they could easily access it from home).

The children were a real credit to the school and everyone had a really enjoyable afternoon. They all seemed keen to get home and share their podcast with their families, and many of the pupils asked me how to download Audacity so that they could produce their own 'radio shows' at home!

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luke Granleese

Hi Mark, I really enjoyed looking over your challenge and have checked ou all the links. I am planning to attempt the first pod cast at our school and your post has been really easy to follow and helpful. Thanks!

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