Student-Powered Podcasting

Creating podcasts is a good way to have students actively create and connect with the world around them. I have been in workshops led by my New Jersey colleague, Chris Shamburg, and what I really like about his approach to podcasting is not just having students develop content, but also learning to responsibly use content created by others in their work. He is good about having students use copyright-free (or copyleft) resources.

His new book is Student-Powered Podcasting (from ISTE) and though it is written for K-12 educators, there are many higher ed instructors and students that could benefit from its clear and straight-ahead approach.

A podcast is a series of digital audio or video files that are released episodically and downloaded through web syndication using RSS. The use of RSS and "subscriptions" differentiates podcasts from other ways of accessing media files over the Internet, such as simple downloads or streamed webcasts. For podcasts, subscribers use special client software applications known as podcatchers (iTunes, Zune, Juice, and Winamp are all popular free ones) that can automatically identify and download new files in the series when they are released.

The book leads Mac and PC users through tutorials for two software audio editing programs, GarageBand (from Apple) and Audacity (a free download for Windows or Mac) that students can use to create podcasts.

A first step with podcasting is simply using podcasts in your classroom, but then having students create their own is far more powerful. Though podcasting has been around since 2000, it is still new for many teachers and students.

Sure, podcasting is a powerful tool for teaching 21st-century literacy (which is the literacy of social processes) and tech skills. But, Chris would argue (and I would agree) that is can also teach students to empathize with others, develop relevant content and "publish" in a real way. What would have been the chances of you as a student prior to podcasting having a regularly syndicated radio or TV program available to the world? 

Shamburg says, "I believe that we are at a revolutionary point in our history, a paradigm shift akin to the introduction of writing to the ancient Greeks or the effects of the printing press on Early Modern Europeans. We need to look at our teaching in this larger sweep of history. Twenty-first-century literacies involve the skills and mindsets associated with the digital technologies and global networking of the information age. These skills and mindsets are related to the immediate technologies, but they are also related to the larger and tacit shifts associated with digital technologies and global networking—shifts in social structures, culture, capital, and labor."

Taking a look at the book's table of contents gives you a good sense of the scope of the book. You can read a sample - chapter one - of Student-Powered Podcasting.

Section two of the book contains 16 standalone units containing overviews, procedures for implementation, assessment rubrics, and links to examples. These classroom-tested projects are flexible and are meant to be adapted based on your students, subject matter, and resources available.

MORE: The Podcasting Legal Guide from Creative Commons


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