A podcast is a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.
Reasons to use Podcasts
Podcasts allow students to follow along with engaging explanations and lessons while thinking critically and analytically. A worksheet with paragraphs of explanations dulls down the content, and students are less motivated to understand it. The emphasis is not on understanding, but rather on getting through the worksheet and mindlessly memorizing facts and information. Unlike traditional teaching methods, podcasts grab the attention of the listener and maintain it. Because the students mind is freed from the task of reading through every word, they are able to analyze and conceptualize what is presented to them in the lesson. The emphasis moves from memorization of material to understanding, and thus more effective learning can take place. In a study done at the George Washington University, students found that listening to podcasts instead of traditional techniques improved their understanding and motivation, and resulted in higher test grades.
Opinion Podcast, SoundCloud, and iTalk. iTalk is a great app for recording podcasts. It is very simple to set up. There is no need to sign up for an account because it saves everything directly to the app automatically. To record, there is a big red button that says “Press To Record”. Also, it lets you choose the name of the recording and the sound quality. The three choices are Good, Better and Best for the sound quality. While recording, it displays how much time has passed which is great if you want to fit it under a certain time limit. In the free version, however, it only lets you email the file. In the premium version, which is $1.99, it will let you upload it to Dropbox or SoundCloud as well. If you accidentally delete the wrong file, it gives you the ability to look at the recently deleted files and restore them. iTalk is a great free podcasting app.
For SoundCloud, it is a mixture of two apps, SoundCloud and AudioCopy. Similarly, this app is easy to use. When the app is loaded, at the bottom, it says Make a Recording. After clicking that, a new screen pops up with the word “Ready” blinking and a red circle at the bottom. To record, just click the red button. Once the recording has started, a timer that looks like a stopwatch appears. It also has an orange bar that goes across showing the levels, or how loud the sound is. After that, you can go to your recordings, pick the recording and it gives you some options. You can edit, share to SoundCloud, export to Garageband, sent it through a text message, email it, and even send it to your Notes app.
The last app is Opinion Podcast. Once you open the app, there is not much to see. The middle is completely white space, and the top and bottom portions with graphics take up about a tenth of the screen. However, it does make everything more simple. The top left has a little red record button, the top middle has a music icon where you can import sound, and the top right is the export button. The options for exporting are Classroom, Notes, Message, Mail, and Soundcloud. There is an “Open in” button, but it crashes the app. The free version has a maximum of a ten minute recording. However, if you can pay $3.99 to get unlimited recording. In the bottom right, there a settings tab. In this, you can change the title, description, picture. Also, you can change your account settings and open the podcast in Safari. All of these apps are great and easy to use, I hope you check them all out!
There are a few tips I have for making podcasts. First, make sure that you have a script. It does not have to be full complete, it can even be an outline. You want to have something that you can refer back to in case you lose track of what you were talking about. Second, DO NOT be afraid to do more than one take. It is very likely that there will be a few mix ups while speaking. If there are multiple mix ups and you feel as though it is necessary to restart, go ahead. Third, make sure that you stay on track. Do not let your mind wander too far from the subject you are talking about. It is okay to get a little bit sidetracked, but make sure that it is related to the podcast. Fourth, make sure that you have a quiet place to record. It would be very frustrating to record a half hour podcast to realize that the background noise overwhelms the recording. It is important to have a quiet space where the sound quality will not be negatively impacted. Lastly, have someone listen to it before you post. Having a second opinion is great. Not only will they catch mistakes you make, but they can also give more advice on top that you may not have thought of. For more tips, check out these three websites, here, here and here
How to Share
Podcasts are easily shareable and accessible, allowing students to reach a broader audience with their work. Soundcloud is one of the largest platforms to share podcasts on. With 40 million registered users, the possibilities for sharing are endless. Although many people use Soundcloud primarily for posting and sharing music, many educators and students use it for academic endeavors. Amazon S3 is another great site for posting podcasts. Although the free version is limited when compared to the features of the subscription version, paying for a subscription is much less expensive than on other podcast sharing apps. Podomatic is one of the most user-friendly podcast sites. You can create and upload easily from the site, and connecting with other users is simple. Students could also take to social media to post their podcasts. By Tweeting or Instagramming links to their podcasts, they would broaden their reach and be able to connect with many more students and teachers. Students could also design a cover page and upload their podcast to Youtube. Many students and teachers use Youtube to find educational videos and information, thus they would be able to connect easily.
Recommendations on microphones to use for podcasting with an iPad
iPads come with microphones already installed in the device, but a good additional microphone is the Apogee MiC Digital Microphone. Although it is expensive, it is the highest rated microphone and has the most credibility.
For a cheap and easy to use microphone that you can carry around easily, I would suggest the iRig MIC Cast. At $40, it is a compact microphone that is around the size of a quarter. It is easily plugged into the audio jack of an iOS device. On top of its easy use, it has great sound. However, it does echo if you have your volume up to high. This applies to people who record voice overs mostly. If this is an issue, all that is necessary is to turn down the volume.
Recommendations on headphones to use for podcasting
Apple headphones are easy, comfortable, and cheap. Headphones I would recommend, especially for podcasting, are any headphones from Beats By Dre. They have a variety of styles of headphones, ranging from earphones that are small and fit into your ears, or headphones that are bigger and fit over your head. There are even wireless headphones available. The best Beats By Dre’s headphones to use would be those from their “Noise Cancelling Collection”. With these headphones, you can cancel out any outside sounds and avoid being distracted from your podcast.
Recommendations on the types of connectors, cables, and adapters that would be needed when podcasting with the iPad
Not much is needed to create a podcast on an iPad, because everything needed is already in the iPad.
You can check out our podcast here, where we talk about digital citizenship.
Written by: Adam Princiotta, Caroline Akerely, and Chandler Joyce