Being an avid podcast listener for over 8 years now, I’ve long been also playing around with the format in the classroom. However, my first attempts were rather feeble, as I lacked the tools to have students create and distribute audio properly.
The first big step towards real podcasting I could take when Audioboom launched its first app. Now it was possible to record and edit (in a very basic way) audio on the mobile devices that my students all had in their pockets. Also, people could subscribe to the podcast via rss-feed on any podcast player app – in addition to listening on Audioboom’s website. This way my students created TV reviews or book reports.
The whole thing had two serious snags, though.
First, almost non of my students found a place in their daily lives for podcasts. Subscribing to them on Android phones seemed a bit of a hassle, and even the students who had iPhones, that came with a pre-installed podcast player app, didn’t really bother.
When I discovered Anchor, this changed completely. Not only does Anchor give lots of fun and easy editing options, it also brings my podcast to Spotify – and that’s exactly where my students already are. Having the podcast published on Spotify all of a sudden brought a lot of ‘street cred’ (for the lack of a better term) to the whole endeavor. The students were hooked instantly. Listening stats jumped from digital tumbleweeds to classroom-size and beyond.
The second problem my classroom podcasting projects had before, was their content. I realized: content also needs credibility. TV reviews or book reports rake of old school assignments with new digital varnish. Understanding this, for me was the key to a new way of classroom podcasting. Now I created a weekly podcast, where my students could publish their unique take, their perspective on our lessons, where they could reflect on our topics and their learning. After five episodes I am confident to say, that my plan has worked out even better than expected. Each episode is usually done by a pair of students, who sign up to do the podcast two weeks before it is published. So far I have loved each one of them.
En passant, of course the students, who chose to be the podcast creators for a specific week, also learn valuable conversational skills while recording (and often re-recording) their audio feature.