Class blogs are so 2013 – make your mark this New Year by creating a class podcast with your students and become the immediate envy of your teaching peers! More immediate and fresh than a blog, a podcast gives your students the opportunity to practice a range of skills including recording and uploading their creations, plus it gives a wider range of options for followers (or parents) who can listen to it on the go! It’s also a great way to inspire students who might be interested in future careers in radio or media production. What’s more, you can use podcasting to give students who are reluctant writers a different way of creating and submitting assignments. Here are some simple tips to get started…
1. Choose a platform
Some, like Schoolpodcast are specifically designed for schools, making them secure and easy to use with your class. The benefits of this are that podcasts can be easily categorised by school subject, and students can share and learn from podcasts created by their peers at different schools. But you might prefer to use a site that allows you to embed your podcasts in an existing website like your class blog or school platform. In that case, try SoundCloud or Evoca, both tools that enables you to easily create podcasts that can be embedded wherever you like, making publishing and sharing simple. Or, if you’d prefer to create a new platform to host your podcasts in one place, try Podbean, a free, easy-to-use resource that enables you to make a personalised profile with customised themes and widgets.
2. Choose a subject
Some teachers might choose to use a podcast in place of a class blog, to update parents and visitors about school activities, in which case your topic has already been decided. But if your students are planning to create a podcast for a wider audience, they will first need to choose a subject on which to focus. In order to attract as many people as possible to your podcast, the topic needs to be relatively specific – so that you can snare listeners with an interest in a particular subject. But on the other hand, it mustn’t be so specific that you only manage one or two podcasts before you run out of things to say! So a podcast on literature, for example, might be too wide to attract a niche audience, but one about a single book would be too narrow to create enough material. But choose a genre, like crime fiction, or children’s books, and you’ve got a specific enough topic to attract an audience whilst leaving yourself enough leeway to create a wide and varied range of podcasts on the topic.
3. Choose a title
This might sound like an easy step, but it’s actually hugely important. With the podcast market already overflowing, listeners are bombarded with millions of options and yours has to stand out from the crowd. Try using an alliterative title, a pun, or a famous quote to help your podcast name grab listeners’ attention as they browse titles.
4. Choose a format
Decide what length your podcast will be and what structure it will follow. The most successful podcasts often have a set structure; for example, an introduction a few minutes long to give a brief overview of the topic, followed by several interviews, and wrapped up at the end with a brief conclusion. You can play around with different structures too – perhaps adding in a musical interlude or some poetry. This is all great practice for students thinking of potential future media or technology careers.
5. Spread the word!
Building up a loyal audience for your podcast can take time but there are definitely ways to boost your listener numbers. Try sending out updates on Twitter and Facebook, and copy in relevant accounts who might share the information with their follower base. Remember to tag each podcast with relevant keywords to help it come up as high as possible in Google searches and to attract the attention of others browsing your podcast platform for particular topics. And to encourage audience interaction and retention, try asking your audience a question each week, or asking them to suggest topics they’d like to hear covered – a great way to get people to leave comments under your podcasts and boost your popularity!
Image courtesy of Flickr, Grant Guarino.