But listening to podcasts on your iPhone isn't the same thing as creating one yourself — which is exactly what you need to do if you're going to use podcasting in your classroom with your students. Just like you can't teach writing effectively if you aren't a writer, you can't teach podcasting effectively if you've never created a podcast.
So here is what we're going to do today:
- Create a podcast series overview.
- Plan one episode.
- Discuss the tools you can use to create your podcast.
Let's get started!
The most important thing you need to know before you start a podcast is what your purpose is.
What story do you want to share with the world?
What you create a podcast about will depending on what you're knowledgeable or passionate about. You can figure this out by asking yourself some basic questions:
- Why do you want to podcast? Because someone told me to is not a good enough reason. I want to make money is also not a good enough reason. You need to have a purpose — a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) goal.
- What would be helpful or entertaining? Just like in writing an essay, you'll need to decide what your purpose is. Are you wanting to help your listeners, entertain them, persuade them, inform them — or a combination over the course of a podcast series?
- What are you passionate about? Maybe you're passionate about encouraging schools to provide early elementary students with more time to learn through play. Or perhaps you love the idea of teaching math through project-based learning. or maybe you're passionate about over-harvesting of the diamondback terrapin in the later years of the 19th century.
- What is relevant? The first two topics are relevant in our country– and our state today. But who even knows what a terrapin is? That said, if you wanted to create a podcast on modern consumerism and it's impact on the environment, the story of the terrapin could be an important example.
- Are you skilled in this topic? If not, do you know enough or are you connected enough so that you can interview people who are?
A few years ago, I created an RTE Format and Purpose document for my podcast. You can use it as a mentor text, if you'd like.
Take a few minutes to jot down three or four ideas for a podcast that you'd like to start. Feel free to brainstorm ideas with others.
Podcast episodes can feature several different formats from a round-table-like discussion among several people, to musical performances. Some podcasts can even be entirely a narration by one person, like the Serial podcast's first season. My podcast features a planned and recorded interview with at least one other person besides me.
Since there are so many options, I'm going to share with you what works for me:
- Guest introduction
- Theory – Why am I doing this?
- Practical application – How do I do this in my classroom?
Opening: I have a pre-recorded opening that I hired someone from Fiverr.com to create for me. I just scrolled through the artists and listened to samples until I found a voice and vibe that I liked. (He also recorded the outro and bumpers as part of the package I purchased.)
Guest Introduction: I typically write out the guest introduction for each episode, along with at least 10 questions I plan to ask my guests. I share this file in Google Docs with my guests so they can prepare their answers and feel confident during the interview. Sometimes guests will just take a look at the questions I send them, others will suggest additional questions or a different order, and I've even had guests write out their answers in the document.
You can see my introduction and questions for the H.D. Hunter interview here.
Segue/promos: These are also called bumpers. I use this to promote my products, the podcast itself, or other relevant topics. I like to use music in the background to separate them from the guest introduction and interview.
Interview: I record the interviews myself and I used to edit them myself to. Since I'm teaching now, I have hired a virtual assistant I've worked with for years to edit my podcast and write my show notes on my WordPress website.
I'll talk more about what you'll need to get started in the Tools section. What I use depends on where you are, if you need to interview someone in person or over the Internet, and what technology you have available to you.
Generally speaking though, the format of my interview section is to discuss the theory of a specific teaching method or tool and then talk about the practical application of it.
Closing: My closing is setup just like another segue or bumper. I use it to promote a relevant product, my podcast overall, or a service my company provides.
Create an outline for your first episode and write an intro for your guest or topic.
My favorite tool for planning my episodes is Google Docs. I have a folder in Google Drive dedicated to my podcast. I also have a folder inside that one in which I put all the recordings and other assets my virtual assistant needs in order to prepare my podcast episodes for publication.
Even if you're just planning to do a simple podcast directly on your phone, I recommend you write out your plans/scripts.
Great for getting started!
Record your podcast episode on your smartphone for FREE with Anchor.fm. This is an excellent option if you're brand new and just want to start recording now. Anchor will provide tools for you to create, host, promote, and monetize your episodes. I haven't used this tool myself, but it was recommended by Wesley Fryer, Director of Technology at Cassidy Schools and host of the OKC Podcasting Conference where I presented Podcast Networking.
If you're wanting to hosting your show on your own website, and/or need more professional level tools, you'll want to consider the following options.
Desktop or Laptop
One of the most important pieces of equipment you can have is your microphone. I use a Blue Snowball USB microphone, which works beautifully, even without a pop filter.
To record your episodes, you can use free audio editing software Audacity on your laptop or desktop computer to record yourself and also to edit your audio. It's free, open-source software you download to your computer and there are tons of tutorials on YouTube.
When I need to interview someone online, I use cloud-hosted audio recording software called Zencastr. My audio is hosted online and downloads automatically to my computer. I love this software because it also records my voice and my guest's voice on separate audio tracks, which makes editing random noises (like my dog barking at leaf fluttering three miles away) so easy without cutting out my guest's voice.
I sometimes use a Zoom meeting room without the audio, but I prefer Zencastr.
In Person Interview Equipment
I'm not going to bore you with these details in Podcasting 1.0, but if I'm going to record in person, I use two quality microphones with table stands and a USB audio interface to adjust my sound levels and pull everything into Audacity, which will record each voice on a separate track. But I'll talk more about that later.
Download Anchor to your phone and record an introduction to your podcast.
Hosting Your Audio
If you're using Anchor, hosting your audio is included.
If you already have a website, such as a self-hosted WordPress blog, there are several services you can use.
Personally, I use Amazon S3, not my web host, because the bandwidth is cheaper. That said, S3 is technically challenging.