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What is Podcasting?

Sound and music have long been a part of education. From radio to phonograph records to audio cassettes to compact discs, analog and digital recordings have been used in schools for both teaching and learning.

The Internet and the World Wide Web bring new opportunities and new tools for consuming and producing audio files.

According to Wikipedia, “A podcast is a series of digital-media files which are distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and computers. The term podcast, like broadcast, can refer either to the series of content itself or to the method by which it is syndicated; the latter is also called podcasting. The host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster.”

Podcasts are audio files that are delivered over the Internet and then played back on a computer or MP3 player. Today’s technology allows visuals and video to be added to podcasts to enhance the content and the experience.

Podcasting is a term coined from the combination of “ipod,” a popular digital audio player, and “broadcast.” This is because these audio files can be syndicated and distributed much as blogs and other websites are distributed through RSS feeds. You can subscribe to a podcast feed and then have it automatically delivered to your computer when there is a new episode.

Teachers are using podcasts to deliver content to students. These can be podcasts that others have created, selected from the thousands and thousands of free podcasts available online, or you can create your own. Podcasts can be played in the classroom or downloaded and played at home.

Students, too can create their own podcasts—and when they do, they will not only be researching, writing, and learning content, they’ll be learning 21st century skills, too.

Podcasting also is an effective tool for professional development and for communicating with parents as well.

The beauty of podcasting is that most podcasts are available free of charge, and and in its purest form, it is easy and inexpensive to produce a podcast.

Podcasts in Plain English

Using Podcasts in the Classroom

Below are some possible ideas for uses of podcasting in the classroom. How would you use podcasting in the classroom?

  • Create audio tours of the school
  • Create audio tours of community attractions and historical sites
  • Create news programs and announcements
  • Provide curriculum related audio programs
  • Record book reviews
  • Provide book talks
  • Create audio versions of handouts and information online in text format
  • Locate tutorials and presentations for teachers to meet curriculum needs
  • Provide professional development on "hot topics"
  • Teach audio editing
  • Collaborate with teachers to help students produce audio recordings on a topic or for a report
  • Create "radio" shows on current events, sports, special school events, etc.
  • Record student interviews with peers, community members, authors, and experts

Finding Podcasts

There are variety of good search engines for podcasts.
  • iTunes Free software for Mac and Windows. The interface will be familiar to most K-12 students from music downloads. Search for podcasts of interest to you.
  • Education Podcast Network Podcasts for teachers by teachers. Search by content, hear student projects by grade level.
  • Podcast Alley Pick a podcast genre, and you'll receive a list of podcasts to take a listen to. Genres include, but aren't limited to: business, cultural/political, environment, movies/films, sports, technology, comedy, travel.

Creating Podcasts

Creating podcasts can be a simple or as complex as you need them to be. Equipment ranges from a telephone or a microphone and a computer to multiple microphones, sound effects, digital music, mixers, audio editing software and more.

Tony Vincent from Learning in Hand has put together a great booklet on the process of creating podcasts.
It can be downloaded here: Podcasting Booklet Download a free 32-page booklet, Podcasting for Teachers and Students


You may also want to check out the following sites for more information and tutorials on creating podcasts.