Saturday, August 14, 2010

Intro to podcasting workshop

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to run two short introduction to podcasting workshops for academics so they could understand the basics of how to create a podcast. In 30 mins I managed to give them an overview of the pedagogy behind podcasting, we discussed how they could use it in their teaching and we recorded, edited and uploaded a podcast using an iphone (voice memos app), mac and audacity. Quite a feat! There were about 10 in each group and none of them had tried making podcasts before. Overall, the response was very positive and they all felt it was something they could now have a go at. I told them I'm a very lazy podcaster and gave them all my tips for making a podcast quickly without worrying if it's perfect. One of the participants had just been to a screencasting workshop and asked why you would podcast when you can screencast? I said that it depends on what you need it to do. In a library we're often teaching people how to use databases which is better explained through a screencast that provides a visual demonstration. However, for teaching you might be explaining ideas, concepts and theories that don't necessarily NEED visuals. In that case you can make a podcast. Of course you can put slides or other visuals to accompany the podcast if you wish. The other reason for making a podcast is because you can easily put it on your ipod and listen on-the-go, on the bus, in the car etc. which is not as easy to do with a screencast.

Here's the handout I made for them using prezi. All I did was make it as a single view in prezi without any zooming path and then when you hit print, it saves as a PDF and you can print it out as a handout. Much more exciting than a word doc handout!

So here's my intro to podcasting:
1. Have a reason for it. Ultimately it has to add value in some way.
2. Plan what you're going to say. Either rough notes or more scripted. Keep it short,  simple and to the point. Between 5-20 mins is best but keep it as short as possible.
3. Find a recording device. Either an iphone or ipod with mic attached OR a USB mic plugged into a computer with audacity open
4. Start recording. Keep mic close to your mouth, record in a quiet place, don't worry if you cough, sneeze, say ummmmmmm, make a mistake or swear - this can all be edited out VERY easily. Just keep going. Even start a section again if you want. (Maybe do a short test first time to check the sound isn't too loud or soft).
5. Speaking tips - speak slowly, clearly and use your voice to provide emphasis and sell what it is you're trying to say.
6. Plug your device into a computer and open the sound files in audacity. If you plugged a mic into audacity you're already there.
7. Listen to what you recorded and identify any bits you want to delete. Simply click and drag to select and then hit delete. Easy!
8. 'Normalise' the file for better sound quality - this can take a little while. Don't worry if you forget.
9. Save as a compressed file so it's a smaller file and quicker to download
10. Export file as MP3 or WAV and save
11. Upload to Learning Management System or somewhere sensible for easy access
12. Even better if people can subscribe to your podcasts via RSS so they automatically download to iTunes.

Here's a screenshot of audacity which is the free audio editing/recording software I used and available for mac or PC. I think it's easier to use than garage band for podcasting.
Image from flicke by npslibrarian

Have fun podcasting!


  1. This is great Sophie, thanks! I'm always on at our students about needing to listen to English more to help their language skills - maybe one way I can practice what I preach is to include some podcasting as one of my learning objects.

  2. This is so concise & doable that now I am ready to spring into action with podcasts!Thanks!