Podcasting is a wonderful way of allowing children to share their work and experiences with a potentially huge audience over the Internet. Schools are increasingly using the internet to promote what they do and to celebrate the achievements of their children, and podcasting is an excellent way of doing this.
What is a podcast?
A podcast is like a radio show. However, instead of being broadcast live, a podcast is recorded and then distributed over the internet so that you can listen to it whenever you please. There are thousands of podcasts available, ranging from general interest entertainment shows to those which focus on specific topics (e.g. computers / music / education).
How do I listen?
You can usually listen to podcasts directly on the websites of those people who make them (see below for some examples). However, you can also “subscribe” to podcasts using software such as Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. These programs will automatically download the latest shows, and you can then listen to them on your computer and / or mp3 player.
How do children benefit from making a podcast?
- It gives them a potential audience of thousands for their work.
- It’s great for developing literacy skills (writing scripts, setting up interviews etc.), allows children to develop and practise their speaking and listening skills, and they also learn some amazing Computing skills.
- Podcasts can be interactive, and the audience can be invited to send their comments, giving valuable feedback to the children about their work.
- I’ve found that making a podcast is also great for developing teamwork skills. The children always work together really well, as they’re always keen to make a great show.
How do I make a podcast?
A school podcast can range from a single recorded story which is put onto the school website, to a weekly radio show with music and interviews, which visitors can subscribe to. How you make up your podcast is up to you.
The basic equipment you need is a computer with some kind of recording ability (an internal or external microphone) and some recording software. Audacity is free and allows you to record your show and then export it as an mp3 file. You can then upload this to your school website.
You could then develop your show by trying some of the following:
- Jingles – Use software such as eJay (PC) or Garageband (Mac) to create jingles. These can be used to introduce particular features to the show.
- Try an outside broadcast – Use an mp3 player with recording facilities to record a feature “on location” around the school, or on a school field trip. You can then download this to your computer and add it to your show.
- Adding podsafe music – Let your DJs introduce some copyright-free music into your show.
- Promote yourself – Register with the various podcast directories (see below) to get more listeners!
What can I put in a podcast?
- School news – a great way of telling children and parents what is going on at your school.
- Children’s work – children love sharing their work. Ask them to record their own stories or write reports about an activity they’ve tried at school.
- School songs.
- Interviews – with members of staff, children, members of the community, and visitors to the school.
- Music – Please be aware that you will not be allowed to use commercial music in podcasts for copyright reasons. However, some artists allow their music to be played in podcasts.
- National / International news – be aware of any copyright regulations when finding sources of news.
- … and whatever else you feel may be appropriate!
A quick tip…
- Let your children listen to a few other podcasts before they start. This is a great way of finding out what podcasts are all about, and discovering what it is possible to do. You may discover some great ideas which you could try to yourself.
Phyllis Kepp has contributed this idea for podcasting:
Have children write stories in groups on a theme (we used fractured fairy tales). Have them list all sounds that would be occurring in the story if it really happened. Have them think about popular music or other songs that they know would be funny or appropriate, or use tracks in GarageBand. Write a list of cues for each song and / or sound effect. Record the story into GarageBand (podcasting), adding sound effects and song tracks. Share the podcast into Keynote or iMovie. Create a Powerpoint presentation or movie with saved pictures and photos. Even better, record movies of the children acting out their story and put the GarageBand creation to the movie.
Do you have any more tips? Have you tried podcasting? I’d love to hear your experiences, so let me know all about your own podcasting!