Podcasting in Education: Teacher's Guide

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Since I published this post over 10 years ago (2012), podcasting has come a long way. It has become mainstream with more and more teachers and educators incorporating it into their teaching practice. The web now is teeming with all kinds of educational podcasts covering various topics from politics to science and digital citizenship. It is only fitting that this post be updated to reflect the state of art in educational podcasting.

Podcasting in education

What is a Podcast?

Podcasts, as Khaleen Morris defines them, are 'audio files that are published online'. They are recorded with the intent of informing, educating, entertaining, you name it, purposes. Most podcasts are serialized and are made up of different episodes. This is especially the case when the podcaster is telling a story or covering a topic that requires several recordings. 

There is no ideal length for a podcast but usually 30 to 60 minutes is what you should aim at if you want to create your own podcasts. Podcasts can include your own voice, royalty-free music, music you created yourself,  or any other audio clips you see fit. 

For podcasts to reach the intended audience they need to be distributed through a hosting platform such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, etc. People can subscribe to podcasts and start receiving automatic updates each time a new episode is released.

Why use podcasts in the classroom? 

In the field of education, podcasts are used for a wide variety of purposes including:
  • Boost your teaching with new materials and resources.
  • Teachers can record audio podcasts to provide additional and revision material to students to download and review at their own pace.
  • Empower students voice and encourage them to create their own podcasts and share their learning experiences with each other (e.g., peer learning).
  • Podcasts can hugely benefit auditory learners and help them in their learning.
  • Creating podcasts allows students to develop several important skills including  research skills, writing skills, communication skills, problem solving and time management skills, among others. 
  • Teachers can use podcasts to provide audio feedback to students.

How to create a podcast ? 

The process of creating a podcast involves three main processes: the planning process, the creation process, and the distribution process.

1. The Planning process
In the planning process, you brainstorm ideas and topics you want to cover in your podcast. If  you are going to have co-hosts, you can run collaborative brainstorming sessions  using one of the many brainstorming tools out there. 

The key is to be able to clearly articulate the purpose behind your podcast, determine the intended audience, and explain how you will distribute your podcasts to your audience. If it is your first podcasting experience, I would suggest that you write scripts for your first recordings and as you gain confidence behind the microphone you can do away with them later on, but regardless of how proficient you become at podcasting, you will always need to prepare and organize your ideas before each podcast recording. That will help keep you on topic and will enhance the comprehensibility of your message.

2. The Creation Process
After you come up with ideas for your podcast, you are now ready to get started creating your podcast. To this end you will need  two types of elements: podcasting hardware and podcasting software. 

    A. Podcasting hardware 
The hardware you will need to create a podcast include a computer (or mobile device),  headphones, and  a microphone. Assuming you already have the first two elements, let's talk about microphones. The first thing to keep in mind is that microphones differ from simple USB mics to high-end studio mics.  

When getting a new microphone, you need to pay attention to these features:  its inputs and outputs, its controls, durability, and of course its price. My top recommendations for teachers include:

To learn more about these microphones check out this post titled 6 best podcasting microphones for teachers.

Educational podcasting

    B. Software
As for the podcasting software,  you will need access to some form of a digital audio recording workstation or application to record your audio. 

         B. 1  Digital Audio Workstation
A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is a software program that helps you record and edit your audio files. One popular digital audio workstation that you can use on your computer to record podcasts is Audacity. This is a software which works on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems. 

Some of the features it provides include:  built-in noise reduction tools, the ability to edit various audio files (e.g., MP3, MP2, WAV, etc), the ability to record live sound and audio playback, mix different sounds together, and many more. Garageband from Apple is another digital audio recording software for Mac as well as iOS devices. However, Audacity offers way more features. Anchor is another excellent podcasting software that enables you to record, edit, and share your podcasts.

         B. 2 Audio recording Tools
There are several online voice recorders  that allow you to record your voice and create audio recordings to use in your podcasts. Some of these voice recording tools include: Vocaroo, Anchor, and Online Voice Recorder. 

3. The distribution process
The distribution process is all about sharing your podcast with others or making it accessible online. There are different ways to distribute your podcasts. For instance, you can share your audio files through email, or you can upload them to Google Drive or Dropbox and share their links with others. 

However, if you are looking for a better  way to share your podcasts then your best bet is a podcast hosting platform such as Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Podbean, SoundCloud, Spotify,  or Stitcher. 

Educational podcasts 

Here is a list of some of the best educational podcasts I curated and shared in previous posts. You can use them for inspiration to help you create your own podcasts or you can integrate them in your lessons and boost your students understanding and engagement. 

1. Educational Podcasts
Here are some good educational podcasts to help you expand your knowledge and learn new stuff. An educational podcast, by definition, is an audio recording created with the purpose of imparting a piece of knowledge to listeners:

2. Science Podcasts
These are science podcasts for teachers, students, young learners, and science aficionados. Some of these podcasts are hosted or co-hosted by (science) teachers and educators and cover a wide range of science topics from deforestation to the secret of Cheetah super speed. The purpose is to develop a deep love for science and make science understanding accessible to everyone:

3. Learning Podcasts for Kids
There are tons of kids-focused podcasts out there, so I rounded up some of the best ones to try out. I know it can be overwhelming trying to choose the right podcast for your kids, but don't worry! Some of the options listed in this collection will definitely be right up your alley!