Podcasting and education go together like peanut butter and jelly, and educators have been hot on the heels of this auditory learning style ever since it hit the scene back in 2004. But while the positive impact this teaching tool has on learning outcomes is clear, the actual process of creating an educational podcast may seem a daunting task.
So what does it take to incorporate podcasting into your elearning course, and how can the right tools, best practices, and strategies take your content to the next level? Read on for a play by play.
Planning Your Podcast
Research is Important
It’s easy to tell the difference between a well thought-out podcast and one that was thrown together last minute, and it isn’t all about production value. Making a podcast for your learners takes research, hard work, and creativity.
While the subject matter and course content itself may be a no-brainer for you, it isn’t for your learners. It’s no surprise that podcasts meant for learning are more informative and engaging when you can leverage contemporary examples, and a little bit of research goes a long way when it comes to preparing content that resonates with your learners.
Take some time before you hit ‘record’ to create an outline of your lesson and boost your content with relevant examples. This should not only help you keep track of your thoughts when showtime comes, it also helps you to create a story that your students will want to follow.
Think Like a Storyteller
Whether you’re creating a recurring series or just a few episodes here and there, it’s important to remember that podcasts take place in the theatre of the mind. That means that creating an engaging and thoughtful story is even more important in the audio-only environment, because there are no visual cues to reinforce concepts or ideas.
At the very least, every podcast should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Use the outline you created during your research phase, and begin to structure your ideas into a story arc that will keep learners engaged. Whether you are making a 10-minute podcast or a 90-minute one, having a well-defined storyline will keep your learners coming back for more.
Creating Your Podcast
Picking Your Equipment
One of the best things about podcasting in education is that it can be as simple or as complex as your time, skills, and budget will allow. Fancy equipment and top-of-the line recording tools may sound ideal, however there are plenty of tools and resources readily available for creating high quality educational podcasts on any budget.
The Podcast Host has a breakdown of microphones for podcasts on any budget, ranging from $60 USD for an entry level microphone to $130 USD for a pro level microphone that connects via USB. If you want to go one step further, spend the extra $20 and invest in a pop filter - a small screen that hovers between the microphone and your face that eliminates the pops, clicks, and mouth sounds that happen naturally when speaking.
Finding Your Voice
You don’t have to sound like Roman Mars to create a podcast worth listening to, but you should put some time and effort into deciding what the overall voice and tone of your recordings will be. You can convey almost anything with your voice, and it has a direct impact on how your listeners and learners feel about your content.
When it comes to podcasting for education, strive for a tone that is both reliable and credible. That means that you want to speak with conviction, confidence, and to communicate clearly with your listeners. The end goal here is to provide an opportunity for learning, so make sure that you sound like the trusted source that you are.
Above all, remember to pace your speaking and pay attention to your breathing. Speaking too quickly or going up in pitch at the end of your sentences can make it hard for your learners to follow. Add a pause here and there to add weight to the content, and also give your learner a chance to process the information you’re sharing.
Editing Your Podcast
Choosing Your Audio Software
You don’t have to have access to top-of-the-line audio editing tools to tweak your own podcast. Look for free tools online that you don’t have to get too fancy with when it comes to editing your podcast. In fact, most laptops and computers come equipped with audio editing software built in, and there are plenty of free services online that will help you record, edit, and share your podcast with confidence.
How Long Should My Podcast Be?
At the end of of the day, there really is no magic number that determines how long your podcast should be. What really matters when you’re considering length is the context in which your listeners will be access the recordings. For example, some podcasting pros believe that the ideal length comes down to exactly 25.4 minutes long - the average length of the commute for most adults. While that might be true in some contexts, not every podcast serves the same purpose or end-goal.
If you’re incorporating podcasting into your microlearning strategy, there are some hard-and-fast rules that limit the length of your recording. According to ATD Education, the maximum amount of time that should be dedicated to any microlearning unit is 13 minutes. Keep that in mind when creating your content, and if possible, add them to your library of learning objects to be reused, repurposed, or reintroduced into other relevant courses.
What File/Audio Type Should I be Using?
Now that you have your podcast(s) recorded and you’re ready to share, make sure you export them in the proper file format so that you can repurpose them across platforms. While different platforms may have different requirements, the most common format (and safest bet) is exporting your files as an MP3 or M4A.
These two formats provide high quality audio in compressed formats and are supported across most platform and audio streaming types.
Publishing and Sharing Your Podcast
Make it Accessible
In the spirit of accessibility, you’ll want to share your podcasts on platforms that are readily-available across devices, especially mobile. Upload your content to free publishing platforms like Apple’s iTunes, Soundcloud and Google Play in order to make it accessible and searchable across all devices, and to meet your learners where they are (on their phones).
Put Your Podcasts in Your Classroom Content
Once your content is uploaded, you can use the links associated with your episodes to share them with your learners - or even better, embed them directly into your course content. With tools like MyEcontentFactory, audio files like podcasts can be easily incorporated directly into your content and accessed with the click of a button. Even better, by saving your podcast directly in your resource library, they can be assigned, re-used, or shared with other educators with just a click of a button.
To learn more about how MyEcontentFactory can bring podcasting to your classroom, contact a member of our team today!