What is a Podcast?
Podcasting is basically publishing sound recordings on a website. It’s like a radio show stored as an MP3 file. The word ‘Podcast’ (from ‘ipod’ and ‘broadcast’) is used to describe a number of things, from simply posting an MP3 file on a website to creating and publishing regular broadcasts which listeners can subscribe to and download each broadcast to play back on their PC or MP3 Player. A true podcast uses this facility and is updated regularly with new ‘episodes.’ By podcasting, you can broadcast to the world without the need for specialist equipment or a licence.
Why make a Podcast?
Podcasting is a great way to share work. It gives pupils a real and mass audience for their work and so increases motivation. Sound is an exciting and engaging medium to work with – a change from print and paper. Here are some examples of how schools are using Podcasting across the curriculum.
- Record poems and stories that the pupils have written.
- Play songs and music that the children or young people have written and recorded (but take note of copyright laws)
- Make a news programme. It could be school news, world news or news from history.
- Make an outside broadcast from a field trip or sports day and publish it on the school website.
- Make a school radio station with jokes, pupil interests, competitions, interviews etc. and ‘podsafe’ music.
- Make a recording to help with revision. Work with the pupils/students to record key facts, processes and information for any subject area.
- MFL – make a broadcast in another language.
- Make a recording to give information to pupils in the school, eg advice for new pupils.
Examples of Podcasts
There are thousands of podcasts on the internet. Many schools around the country have made some excellent recordings which are well worth listening to for inspiration.
Weston School New
This podcast is 3 minutes long...
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How do I make a Podcast?
Podcasts are generally recorded straight onto a computer, so all you need is a computer and a microphone. You also need some software to record and edit your broadcast. One free example of this is Audacity which is a powerful open source audio-editor. It will do everything you need to make a recording. Download it from here:
There are some tutorials available from here:
Other free and commercially available sound editors are available.
Many MP3 players have a recording facility which means you can record away from the computer and download the recording to your PC as an MP3 file, ready for editing.
Podcasting & Blogging on a School Trip
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Sandon JMI School & Francis Combe School
Podcasting in Hertfordshire Schools - Using Softease Podium
Podcasting, or the delivery of radio-style broadcasts across the internet, is rapidly gaining popularity in schools. It offers an engaging, creative and exciting way to use ICT in different curriculum areas, as well as helping youngsters to develop a number of key skills. More...
Publishing your Broadcast
Make sure you save your finished recording as an MP3 file. Now you are ready to upload your file and create your podcast.
There are a few different options as to how listeners can receive the podcast.
The simplest way to do this is to upload the file to your school’s website and simply link to it from one of your webpages. When a visitor clicks on the link, the MP3 will begin to play, or they can save it to their computer. However, if it is a big file it may take a while before it starts playing or downloads.
The ‘traditional’ way of podcasting, however, allows users to subscribe to the podcast so that new episodes are automatically downloaded, ready to be heard. This uses something called an RSS feed.
An RSS feed is a piece of code written in XML format. The code is saved as an RSS file which is uploaded to your web space along with your MP3 file. Subscribers use a program called an Aggregator or Podcatcher to listen to the podcast. See How do I receive a Podcast below:
Whilst creating RSS Feeds is a bit more complicated, podcasting has become so popular that there are now lots of programs and online services which make it easier.
First and foremost, when recording a broadcast, follow the usual precautions regarding the safety of the pupils involved. You should not use full names, and obviously never give out any personal information about pupils or staff. There is information about web-safety here:
Secondly, it is important that you respect copyright laws. You cannot include any commercially available music in your broadcast. However, there is a lot of ‘podsafe’ and 'Creative Commons Licensed' music available online which you can use. You should always read the terms and conditions of any site/music you use to make sure your use of the resource does not infringe anyone’s rights.
Better still, make your own music!
Examples of sites which have creative commons licenced / royalty free music include:
How do I Receive a Podcast?
To subscribe to a podcast that uses an RSS feed you need to use a program called an Aggregator, or Podcatcher. The most well known is i-Tunes, but there are others available such as Juice and Doppler and they are generally free. They work by allowing you to enter the web address of the RSS file, and the program can then automatically download the sound files and notify you when new ones are available.
When you visit a website that is promoting a podcast that you can subscribe to, you will often see a web address ending in ‘XML’ which you need to copy and paste into your aggregator. An example is:
This is the RSS feed for Russell Prue’s keynote speech at our Hertfordshire ICT Conference 2007. If you copy and paste this link into your aggregator, you have subscribed to this podcast!
Alternatively you might see an RSS icon on the page, which looks something like this:
This icon is often linked to the RSS file. You need to copy the link and paste it into your aggregator. To do this in Internet Explorer, right-click on the icon and select Copy Shortcut.
If you are using i-Tunes, you can go to the Advanced menu, choose ‘Subscribe to Podcasts’ and follow the onscreen instructions.
Is your school podcasting? If so, please let Chris Carter know at Herts for Learning. He would like to hear about it and we can place a link to your podcast on this page to share your work and inspire others.
Disclaimer: Any online services or programs mentioned on this page are used entirely at your own risk.