For the past few years, podcasts have been in vogue, and this trend is likely to continue to grow. The popularization of platforms that allow sharing audio files and the convenience of the format, which provides listening at any time and place, have encouraged many creators to disseminate their content through these new social networks. And among them, many educators have seen the advantages of the educational podcast as a teaching tool, which can also be combined with methodologies. Many podcasts focus on education, writing my papers on education, tips for students on time management, and others.
What is an educational podcast, and what are its advantages?
A podcast is an episodic series of files, usually audio files, shared over the Internet and that the user can either download to their device or listen to in streaming. It is a kind of radio, but a la carte since the listener can choose when they want to listen to each of the audios. A podcast can be narrative, but in educational podcasts, the most usual thing is the exposition of specific thematic contents with a didactic purpose.
Among the many advantages offered by the podcast from an educational point of view, it is worth mentioning the following:
- It makes learning more flexible, allowing the student to access the content whenever they want, thus improving their understanding of the contents.
- In addition, it can be listened to as many times as desired so that students with difficulties in any subject can assimilate it at their own pace, without external pressures or frustrations.
- It is stimulating: as long as it is well designed, the innovative format of the podcast can arouse the curiosity of students, who are generally attracted by technology.
- It enhances autonomous learning insofar as it can provide students with connections to explore from home that broadens their horizons. The 21st century will be the century of self-learning, and in this sense, educational podcasts offer special tools.
- It strengthens the imagination, as it leads the learner to naturally replace what they do not see with what they imagine.
- And in the case of involving students in its creation, the podcast enhances students’ communication skills and increases their motivation.
What should we take into account when creating an educational podcast?
If you want to create your educational podcast, there are several things to consider:
Choose the topic: The first thing is to decide on the subject matter. There are podcasts on all subjects: literature, science, philosophy, music. Indeed you already have an idea of the discipline you want to deal with, but what aspects exactly do you want to deal with? How do you want to do it? How many episodes? How are you going to sequence the exposition?
Think about the listeners: Just as in class, a uniform, monotone-voiced presentation on a topic is unlikely to appeal to students. Just as important as the content is finding the right tone. Think about who you will address, the age of your audience, whether you want to reach your students or other young people beyond them, and adapt your action plan accordingly. If you are making the podcast specifically for your students, it might be a good idea to include them in the project somehow. Think about what things might pique their interest and keep their attention, what they like. Decide whether you are going to script or leave room for improvisation, etc.
Equip yourself: Although it is possible to make a podcast with a cell phone recorder if you want to give a particular image of professionalism and, above all, make the experience more enjoyable for your listeners, it is highly recommended to invest in good equipment. A good microphone will make your voice sound much better and allow a better connection with your audience.
Look for the tone: It is known that the medium is essentially the message, and in the podcast, the medium is logically the voice. It is crucial, therefore, to control diction, rhythm, and intonation. In other words: do not speak too fast or too slow and try to find an intonation that is not monotonous, with inflections, and that is attractive.
Watch out for noise! Background noise not only detracts from credibility but can also easily mislead listeners. Although good editing can indeed soften these noises, the best option is always to prevent them. Look for a quiet space where the sound of the street is not too audible. If this is not possible, a good idea may be to record at night, when there are fewer auditory distractions, so that the only noises that can be heard are the sound effects you want to add!
Once you have recorded the audio, it is time to edit it: cut the unusable fragments, check that the audio is heard correctly and without interference or noise, and add the music and sound effects that you think are convenient, as well as an introduction or entrance that you can use for all the podcasts in the series.
For editing, the most used program is Audacity, although there are other options such as Adobe Audition, Logic Pro, Garageband or GarageBand on PC, Acoustica, Hindenburg, or Spreaker, among others.
Music and sound effects, always in moderation, are an excellent resource to make the presentation more pleasant and less solemn. The big problem you may encounter here is that of copyrights. Having to pay royalties can be a problem, especially at the beginning. Still, luckily there are alternatives: there are many royalty-free music and sound effects libraries, such as the Free Music Archive, Sshhtt!, Digccmixter, or those offered by YouTube Audio Library or Spotify.
Distribution and dissemination
When you have the audio edited and prepared (preferably in .mp3 format, and not .wav, avoid working with a hefty fine), it is time to disseminate our content. While it is true that you can opt for internal distribution in the case of school projects, the use of more comprehensive platforms is an option worth considering. If students have participated in the project, being able to see the podcast on the networks will make them excited and proud and be a way to show their work to others. And if it is a personal project, it is also a way to get your work out to a broader audience.
There are several platforms on which you can broadcast podcasts, the best known being Spotify, iVoox, Google Podcasts, or Apple podcasts. An excellent option to be present in most of them without excessive energy expenditure may be to resort to distributors such as Anchor, Libsyn, or the Spreaker above, to mention just a few responsible for hosting, circulating, and, if necessary, monetizing the published podcasts.
And don’t forget the potential of YouTube as a space to share your content and reach more people. If you want to publish on this social network, you can accompany the audio with an audiogram. The PodVideo tool can be helpful for this purpose.
But remember: technology is only a medium. Just as in the classroom, what counts, more than the format, is the enthusiasm you put into your work and how meaningful it is for learning. If you manage to give it this touch, we are sure that it will be an exciting project for you and your listeners!