Podcasting in the School Library, Part 2: Creating Powerful Podcasts with Your Students

Article excerpt

From children in Nebraska to teens in Australia, young Podcasters are emerging around the globe. Poems, book reviews, radio skits, commentaries, interviews, and news are just a few of their creations,

Because Podcasts are so easy to make, they are a great way to promote technology to reluctant teachers. Dave Fagg (2006), an Australian history teacher, notes that, rather than spend his time confiscating MP3 players from students, he integrates them into learning by involving students in scripting, recording, editing, and sharing Podcasts about Australian history.

Because sound files are simple to produce and deliver, audio sharing is great for teaching and learning. The word Podcast comes from combining the words iPod with broadcast. Although you will find lots of audio on the Internet, Podcasts are different because they are accessible through a web feed and can be downloaded to portable audio players.


Although many schools are producing weekly and even daily Podcasts, you will want to consider starting with a project that does not require a rigorous schedule. For example, you might highlight books nominated for regional awards. Create a Podcast file yourself to kick off the activity; then, post student projects as they are completed.


Look for activities where audio adds a dimension that would not be available with another medium, such as the intensity of voice found in a commentary or an interview or in storytelling or oral music. Where does voice and sound make a difference? Children at Cefn Fforest Primary School create Podcasts of their book reviews, poems, field trips, artwork, prose, and many other class activities.

Combining text, graphics, and audio into a single project shows the power of this media. Mr. Gates's second-grade class uses audio as an integral part of its blog. On the topic of seeds, each student shared his or her written work, drawing, and an audio recording of this project. This is a great way to maintain a comprehensive record of student literacy.


Podcasts are designed to share with the world, so it is important to think about your audience. Ask yourself whether you really need to share the audio projects or whether you would be better off simply storing the audio files on a CD or on the school's intranet. For instance, electronic portfolios that incorporate audio narration are a wonderful idea but may not need to be posted on the Web. You can also provide password access to a Podcast if you wish parents to visit but want to restrict access by the general public.

Is the project aimed at classmates, parents, community members, or the word? If you are sharing with the world, be sure to identify your school and grade level. However, check your school's student privacy guidelines before identifying individual students by name.


If you are planning a series of Podcasts, develop a standard format. For example, most Podcasts contain an introduction (intro), body, and conclusion (sometimes called an outro). Think about a title, theme song, and standard structure for your show. Even if the topics vary, consistency makes the production more professional.

Ask students to explore and evaluate Podcasts such as those of the BBC Documentary Archives Discuss the format used and the elements that were effective and ineffective. The ULiveWhere Podcast interviews people who live in different areas of the world, and it provides maps, satellite images, and photographs about the location, in addition to the audio interview. Ask students to think about visual resources that might accompany the Podcast.

Keep in mind that Podcasts can include many kinds of audio, such as sound effects and music. For instance the Brass Band is a weekly Podcast with brass band music.

Also use existing Podcasts to stimulate ideas. …