By Teachers, For Teachers
Using technology in the classroom to create podcasts has never been easier, and these handy tools can help students encode their learning into a meaningful, shareable form. A podcast is an audio show – sort of like a prerecorded and edited radio show – where individuals can communicate ideas, tell stories, and share audio content. We often expect our students to be able to demonstrate these technology in the classroom skills, and the podcast platform might just be the opportunity you’ve been looking for. If you want a creative way for your students to share their learning, then consider using one of these podcast apps!
If your students have Chromebooks or just want to use a simple web-based application, then try one of these.
Vocaroo tries to make it as simple as possible for users. Their minimalist design features a button that says, “Click to Record.” If students have a piece of audio they’d prefer to upload, another smaller button says, “Or upload?” offering that option.
The editing options for Vocaroo are limited, but it serves as a simple, entry-level online recording tool, especially useful for students in younger grades. Once a recording is completed, students can download their recording directly to a hard drive, or Chromebook users can have a link saved to their Google Drive.
TwistedWave is available as an online tool, but also has features for a Mac, iPad, or iPhone. The online version does not require any downloading or installation – everything is available online. This browser-based audio editor allows the your-work-accessible-anywhere convenience, as long as you have an Internet connection.
TwistedWave offers more in terms of uploading, recording, and editing options, but it does require users to make an account if they want their files saved. Even then it only provides a mere five minutes of recording for free. A subscription purchase is required for more minutes of recording. TwistedWave does offer free uploading, recording, and editing tools, but cannot save them without an account.
This application is a step up from Vocaroo and might be more appropriate for slightly older users. Its editing options can be loads of fun for creative students, though it might get complicated. Still, its ability to import or export to multiple sources, like students’ Google Drive, makes this a potential winner for your classroom.
Spreaker is another notch above Vocaroo and TwistedWave in terms of its options and tools. Like both, it provides a simple, web-based platform for students to record their own podcasts. However, the depth and capabilities provide what only your more serious students would need to complete their podcast episodes.
Spreaker requires an account just to get started, and its free plan offers 15-minute daily broadcasts, plus five hours of storage and basic analytics. But the tools go well above-and-beyond here. Their editing tools provide a rich mix of options for students to get creative. Spreaker also supports its community of podcasters, giving students an opportunity to see how others are using the platform.
Because of the features Spreaker is capable of giving, this tool may work best for older students, especially ones interested in learning more about digital media and communication. For example, students probably don’t need analytics tools; however, analytics is an important tool for anyone serious about web-based communication to start learning.
If your classroom is one-to-one with iPads, try these apps to help students produce simple podcasts!
Voicethread promises to take your conversations “To the next level, capturing your presence, not just your comments.” What it means by this is that users can do more than just speak into a microphone. VoiceThread allows them to annotate directly on the screen, add videos and pictures, and share documents. This free app offers a unique tool for creating more than just a podcast, but a multimedia experience.
Unlike most of the other apps listed here, iPadio allows users to record up to 60 minutes of audio. It can then be modified to add titles, descriptions, and images within the recording to create a modest display. The options for editing may be limited, but there is one distinction that makes this app unique: It can instantly upload to a students’ social media account or personal webpage. It also comes with “Embed codes” which allow users to post the recording on their own webpages as well.
It contains limited video capacities for podcasts as well, and is generally used to create “High-quality audio with minimal fuss.”
Mobile Podcaster is the only app in this article that costs money – a modest $2.99 – but may end up being more than your beginning podcasters need. The sleek and easy-to-use design of this app makes creating, editing, and exporting podcasts extremely easy. It is designed mostly for professionals who want to “Podcast or simply want to add audio to your blog.”
While students will benefit from the neatly packaged array of tools for crafting a professional sounding podcast, they likely will not need to utilize some of the exporting and syncing features this app was designed to deliver.
While it’s important for students to develop their conventional reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills, podcasts can play an important role with furthering student communication. Podcast creation compels students to carefully craft their message and speak with clarity. They must also make themselves an expert on their given topic if they plan on communicating with confidence. Finally, as students share their podcasts in the classroom, they all hone their listening skills as they must focus their attention on the audio their peers created.
What can you use podcasts for? Consider some of these ideas:
Current Events/Non-Fiction Reading. Ask your students to read something non-fiction that interests them, or perhaps assign them a current event. After they read and learn about the content on their own, their podcast is proof of their comprehension.
A Book Report With a Twist. Ask students to summarize a recent book or short story they’ve read. Include other elements that would be appropriate for a broadcast such as a personal review, discussion of questions or confusions, sharing of “Easter egg” discoveries, and more. Have student import additional audio recordings they find that correspond with their broadcast content.
Interview an Expert. Experts are all around us. Send your students out into the world to interview someone who can teach them about an interesting topic. Ask students to prepare interviews for their parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, or classmates. This would involve instruction on interview skills as well as a unique way to bring in outside perspectives into the learning environment.
Flip the Instruction. All of these podcast apps are great tools for students to demonstrate their learning, but they’re just as effective for teachers to use as well. Consider creating your own podcasts that supplement or flip your instruction in some way. Your students can carry your voice with them beyond the classroom which might allow you to make your time together within the classroom that much more productive.
What other apps would you add to this list? How would you use podcasts in your classroom to demonstrate student learning? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
Jordan Catapano is a high school English teacher in a Chicago suburb. In addition to being National Board Certificated and head of his school’s Instructional Development Committee, he also has worked with the Illinois Association of Teachers of English and has experience as a school board member for a private school. You can follow him on Twitter at @BuffEnglish, or visit his website www.jordancatapano.us.