The Community of Podcasting

Live in the desert but you have an interest in water skiing? There’s a community for you. Want to learn how to play the piano but can’t afford lessons? There’s a community for you. Love stamp collecting but all your friends find the topic boring? There’s a community for you, too! There is a community for nearly any interest or topic, and it’s waiting in the form of a podcast.

A world of information for any classroom

Podcast, a digital way to share information through an audio, video, or radio medium, has been around since the early 2000s. Evolved from web blogging, podcasts have been an outlet for people around the world to share ideas and interests, entertain, and inform. Although very famous individuals manage successful and profitable podcasts, the most intriguing aspect of this digital communication tool is that anyone can have their own podcast and talk about anything that interests them.

Step inside any classroom, and you are likely to find several smartphones, iPhones, iPods, MP3 players, or another sort of portable device capable of accessing podcasts with minimal effort. This is where all this technology can be a major advantage to a teacher. No longer is learning confined to a textbook or a video shown in class. Listening centers don’t have to be filled with outdated cassettes (yes, they still exist out there) or CDs. Any progressive teacher is just a few clicks away from CNN Student News or a podcast on multiplication skills.

Podcasting is not just for students

Absent students is an area of frustration felt universally by educators. A riveting introductory lesson on biomes is worthless to a student who wasn’t in class to hear the material. But through the use of podcasting, a teacher can simply record the lesson as it is being taught, upload the audio content to a podcast, and make the lesson available through the class website or download the podcast onto an MP3 player and send it home with the student. The potential for this technology in the classroom is only limited by the imagination and flexibility of the educator.

A career awaits

Understandably, a skeptic may look at podcasting as another distraction in the classroom or a waste of time for everyone involved. However, in an age of college and career readiness it is more important than ever to expose students to all that exists in the digital world.

Not only can podcasts provide training and career information, but podcasting itself is becoming a profitable career field. Podcast producers, digital programmers, and communication managers are all related jobs that begin with this digital medium and can lead to extended careers in broadcasting or entertainment. A teacher has the power to influence a student’s career track simply by exploring the resources that are already available.

Getting started

If the goal is to create an original podcast, existing  programs make starting a podcast quick and easy. Audacity, Windows Movie Maker, and GarageBand are some of the more popular products. Minimal equipment (computer, microphone, podcast software) is all that’s required to get started. Once a recording is completed, a quick and simple editing is all that’s needed prior to publishing.

Rather than placing another task in the lap of a teacher, allow students to get involved in this process. Not only will there be an abundance of ready volunteers, chances are they will be able to do it faster, easier, and better than the teacher.

The only limitation is you

Book summaries, current issue discussions, or intervention for ESL students are just a few of the different ways podcasts can enhance the productivity of any classroom.

Like any new idea, podcasting has its limitations. If the goal is to expose students to higher-level thinking skills, open the classroom up to a global society, or prepare students for the world that awaits them outside of high school, podcasts are just one tool that can make this happen in a way that is engaging for the students and easy for the teacher. There’s a community for you if you are willing to open up your classroom.

Dr. Jason Perez is the head principal at Heritage Trails Elementary in Moore, Oklahoma, as well as a faculty member at Concordia University – Portland, where he teaches Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction courses, and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Central Oklahoma, where he teaches Master of Education Administration courses.

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