Podcast Workshop:

Podcasting in the K-12 Classroom

MICDS Summer Teacher Institute 2010

Session Description:

Podcasting is a simple process of putting a variety of digital files (audio, video, or images) online in a manner that allows others subscribe to the content so that it is automatically delivered to the subscriber when it is updated. This session will demonstrate how to use free software (Audacity, GarageBand and TraxPC) to create audio podcasts, how to use sites like Buzzsprout or Talkshoe to create a podcast channel, and how to use podcasting software (including iTunes) to download and subscribe to podcasts. We will examine reasons to podcasting from recording teacher-lectures, creating student newscasts, and demonstrating understanding through a multimedia podcast project. We will also experiment with using Slideshare to synchronize audio with PowerPoint slides. No previous experience with podcasting or audio recording is required.

Session Slides

What are Podcasts?

For those of you not familiar with podcasting, Apple, the company synonymous with podcasts, offers a good explanation on their site:

The word ”podcast” is a concatenation of the words iPod and broadcast. The underlying technology used for podcasts, called RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is capable of containing any type of media including audio, video, graphics, and more.

Podcasting is a way of publishing podcasts to the web, allowing people to subscribe to a podcast and receive new ”episodes” automatically through an RSS feed. Podcasting consists of publishing XML files which contain references to media (called “enclosures”) to a website. Podcast aggregators (often called “podcatchers”), then read these XML files and download all the linked enclosures.

Unlike terrestrial and Internet radio, podcasts are time-shifted, meaning that listeners have control over when and where they hear their favorite programming. And, the episodes are delivered automatically to a subscriber on iTunes so the latest updates are always readily available with no effort required by the listener.

Podcasts offer iTunes users and iPod owners the same freedom and level of control they are familiar with when listening to their own personal music collections.

There are three basic types of podcasts. Audio podcasts are usually an MP3 file and are the most common types of podcasts. Enhanced podcasts can have images to go along with the audio. They can also have chapter markers, making it easier to skip to different portions of an episode. Enhanced podcasts are an AAC file and are not supported by all devices. Video podcasts are movies, complete with sound. Video podcasts can be in a variety of formats, but MPEG-4 is the most popular and the only format that will play on iPod and iPad.1

Why use Podcasts?

Although podcasts are typically considered as something to be consumed (subscribed to), they are powerful tools for student expression and developing a sense of audience. As educational technology and podcast expert Wes Fryer said in his article Classroom Audio Podcasting,
Education in the twenty-first century should focus on the development of authentic literacy skills for students. Learning to read, write, listen, speak, critically analyze information and communicate ideas using a variety of modalities is vital for children of all ages. Some of the most frequent complaints of writing teachers, however, revolve around a lack of student motivation to write. How can teachers increase students’ desire to express themselves effectively and appropriately?
One of the most basic and powerful ways to increase student motivation to write and communicate is to change student perceptions of audience. Some students are motivated to write to please their teacher and earn a high grade, but that is not the case for everyone. Instead of asking students to write exclusively for an audience of one (the teacher) using technology from the mid 1500s (a pencil,) teachers can now challenge students to publish for a global listening audience via a classroom podcast.