You've probably heard of a few schools that have their own in-school radio shows which are broadcast from their own miniature recording studios and been envious of their achievements - well I now reckon that you can create something similar in your own school which is just as good but costs just a fraction of the price...
An audio podcast is basically a short audio recording which is shared over the Internet, published as part of a series of similiar episodes often at regular intervals. Whilst radio shows have to be broadcast and listened to live, audio podcasts can be downloaded to listen to by children at a time of their choosing thus giving them a much wider audience reach.
A weekly school podcast doesn't have to be particularly long (just a few minutes will do) and the episodes could even all have a similar running order of content, such as:
- introduction of the presenters;
- school news/reminders;
- sharing the school dinner menu;
- current national headlines (e.g. taken from the Newsround website);
- a 'strange but true' fact;
- a book/website/app of the week;
- a reading of a child's work they have done this week in a lesson;
- 'happy birthday' shout-outs;
- a funny joke to end with.
The key is designing a show which is so easy to create for each podcast that you could hand the running of it over to a group of able children, assigning roles to different members of a 'podcast team', such as:
- two presenters (who host the show);
- a producer/researcher (who organises future content);
- a sound recordist (who does all the technical set up).
Script writing could be done as a collaborative effort between different members of the team to ensure that they all have direct input into the final show. Unlike producing a school newspaper which: costs money to print, takes quite a while to design well and is limited in size by the paper type, producing a weekly podcast: has no running costs, is extremely easy for children to produce (since they just have to read out sentences from a script) and isn't limited in size (since audio could be recorded for any length of time, within reason). Having so few restrictions, I really believe that children could produce their own regular audio podcast much more independently than with a printed newspaper. Watch this example of Bethke Elementary School in the USA to see a podcasting team in action for yourself:
Although they obviously have a big set up with microphones etc., you could quite easily record and publish your own podcast online using just with an iPad/iPod Touch and by sitting in a quiet room. The app I would recommend for doing this is Voice Recorder Pro app because it: is free, has a simple trimming tool to cut-out the start/end of the recording with (so it is nice and clean) and offers a range of sharing options for outputting the podcast with.
You could even play in sound: cues, jingles or effects from another device whilst recording using the My Custom Soundboard app (69p) too.
How you choose to share your podcast is up to you, but the way that I'm thinking would work best at the moment is: converting the recording into a .mp3 file, opening it up in the Edmodo app's library and then attaching it to a new post to share with a 'podcast' group which children can join. I like this method because it: is free, has no limitations (e.g. upload limits), promotes technology which children are already familiar with, encourages online discussion through writing replies underneath and creates an RSS feed automatically on the public page (which you could even set social media services to auto-post updates from).
Setting up a school podcast could really have a big impact in a school because it: encourages children to use technology, gives extra responsiblities to a group of more able children, allows regular prasising of children's achievements and is accessible to everyone who can listen well (unlike a newspaper which would likely be written by a high-attaining child at a reading level above most other younger children in the school).
How would you set up a weekly podcast at your school?