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In this new series, author and educator Aaron Quigley shows you how to stay up to date with the latest educational technology and classroom management techniques. Each week, he'll introduce you to a new tip you can use to be more efficient, and increase student achievement. Aaron covers concepts like the flipped classroom, Common Core Standards, and the role of social media in education. The series also covers a variety of productivity apps, learning management systems, and other technologies, using a project-based approach that simulates the real K–12 or university classroom environment. Check back often for new tutorials, every Monday with Teacher Tips.
Hello, this is Erin Quigley and welcome to another edition of Teacher Tips. This week we're going to talk about how we can use podcasts in the classroom. Now podcasts are the ability to create an audio track that you upload to the web, that students can then have the ability to download through something like iTunes. Add them to a device, such as an iPhone, iPod or iPad, or really any MP3 player, and then have the ability to listen to that track whenever they would like. Let's go and talk about how we create podcasts, and then how we can use them in our classroom.
When it comes to creating podcasts, there's a few steps that educators can follow to make sure they're successful podcasters. The first step being focus on content. Make sure the information you're sharing in your audio file is exactly what your students need. The second step is you have to find a way to record the audio. Now, there's a lot of free applications out there. Today, we're going to look at something called Audacity, which is free for both Mac and PC. And also Mac users can use the iLife program GarageBand to quickly create podcasts as well. There's a whole range of software out there, some of which costs money, like Adobe's Audition, but when it comes to creating podcasts for our classroom a lot of the free software will allow us to do exactly what we need.
The next thing we need to do, is we need to upload our podcast to an RSS feed. An RSS feed, is literally something that takes the basic information of your website, packages it together in what's known as a rich site summary. And then people can access these rich site summaries to quickly pull information from your website. Most blogs have an RSS feed built into them. And there's also a variety of podcasting services such as PodBean or Podomatic. If you have a blog, and you're not sure if it has an RSS feed, simply take your blog title, put a forward slash, type RSS, and hit Enter.
Make sure you're doing this in a web browser such as Firefox, or Chrome, that has a built-in RSS reader. If you have an RSS feed, then you'll automatically see your most recent post show up in the RSS reader, inside of the web browser. And once you have it uploaded to an RSS feed, you then need to be able to give the feed to students. Now you can do this in a few ways, I can simply just email out my blog address, and hope the students access the blog and listen to the podcast there. But in this video we're going to show you an optional way which is to submit that feed to the iTunes store. The benefit of this, is that students can then search for your podcast on the iTunes store, and easily download it to an iPod, an iPhone, or even an iPad to listen to at their convenience.
Now word of caution of using the iTunes store. While you're probably creating a podcast that is appropriate for your students. Everyone else that have access to the I Tune store would also be able to access your Podcast. When it comes to podcast in the classroom, there's a lot of ways to use Podcast to help with student achievement. The first way is if you Flipped the classroom. The Flipping concept say's that your going to move the introduction and new material. Outside of class time, and then focus class time solely on helping students master that content. For example, you could create a podcast of your lesson, students could listen to the podcast prior to class, and then show up ready to discuss the ideas that you disseminated through the podcast.
Another way you can use this is to accommodate or modify your homework and classwork. For example, if you have a student that's a struggling reader. You could read and do your podcast tests, you could read worksheets, you could even read paragraphs and text from a textbook, and then when the student comes into class. Or they're doing their homework, they can access the podcast to help them with the parts they didn't understand through reading. You can also use podcasts for performance-based assessment. My students absolutely love creating podcasts. It gives them the ability to act like a DJ or a radio host, and then share the information they've learned through their podcast, and of course, you could always record your entire lesson.
I see a lot of teachers that take a digital recorder, at the start of their lesson they hit record button. At the end of the lesson, they upload it to their RSS feed. This would give you the opportunity to share your entire lesson with students that were absent, or students that need some additional reinforcement as they do their homework. Let's go ahead and walk through the process of creating a podcast. I'll be creating this podcast in Audacity. Audacity is free for both Mac and PC users and it's fairly simple to use. Before we get started, the first thing we need to check is that we have the correct output for our speakers and we have the correct input for our microphone.
Otherwise, we won't be able to record any sound or not be able to hear the sound once it's recorded. There are a lot of ways inside of Audacity in which you can change the quality of sound that you're recording. And I recommend using the pre-established audio settings, and it'll give you fairly high quality audio for your podcasts. To get started, simply click the Record button. Hello students, and welcome to this week's podcast. This week we're going to go ahead and talk about genetics. Okay, so, I started a podcast there and obviously I did not complete it. I just went ahead and hit the Stop button. So, that we could start talking about how we can actually edit some of these audio files before we upload them to the web.
Now, you'll notice that I had a long pause before I start speaking. Perhaps before I upload this podcast, I don't want students to have this large three second gap, before they start hearing noise. Well, Audacity makes it fairly simple to do basic audio editing. For example, I can just click let's say right around two and a half seconds. I can drag all the way back to the beginning. With this section of audio highlighted, I'm going to use the Delete key on the keyboard. And I'll automatically remove that section of the audio track. So, now when I upload it, it'll start after about a second of silence. So, that students can go right into the content.
Furthermore, I could even delete a section in between here. Let's say that maybe you recorded your entire lesson, and there was a Q and A section in the middle that wasn't really valuable. Well you could go in and select that Q and A section, and simply delete it. Once you've edited your audio file to where you'd like it, we can go ahead and export it to become a podcast. To do this, I'm going to go to File in the upper Audacity menu. And I'm going to choose Export. I'll go ahead and name my file a podcast, and I'm going to choose to place it on the desktop for right now. Now, this is very important. Under format, please make sure it's selected as MP3.
Sometimes it'll default to WAV format, but we want to prepare this audio file to be submitted to iTunes, so we're going to make sure it's selected as an MP3 file. I'm then going to click the Save button. So this time it's asking us to add metadata to our file. What metadata is is it's small pieces of information that are stored inside the file itself. This way, if I were to import this MP3 to iTunes, iTunes would automatically read the metadata and tell me the artist name, the title track, anything else that I have filled out. Now you can fill out all of the metadata, or you can fill out none of it.
I'm going to go ahead and put the artist name as myself. I'll give this a year, and I think under comments, I'm going to put For Life Science. This way when my students are looking at this inside of iTunes they can see that this is for the Life Science class. If I'm okay with the metadata, I can go ahead and click the OK button. So there we have it, Audacity has gone ahead and created an MP3 file for us. The next step would be to go ahead and upload this to our blog. here I have a really basic blog created at edublogs.org. I'm going to go ahead and click on my dashboard, and from my dashboard, I'm going to create a new post.
Under the post section, I'll just go ahead and Add New. And here I'm just going to call this Genetics Podcast. In the Content section of the blog, I'm going to use the Add Media function. And I'm going to go ahead and upload a file. I'm going to select the file, which was on my desktop. There's the podcast we just created. And I'll click Open. Once the file is completely uploaded, I can go ahead and insert this into the post. And now we have an MP3 embedded inside of a post. Now, Edublogs functions the exact same way that Wordpress does. So if you're using a Wordpress blog site, these instructions will be the exact same.
Let's go ahead and publish this post. Now that our post is published, I'm going to go ahead and view the post, just to make sure everything looks correct. So, here I can see that I've got Genetics Podcast, and that there's a podcast attached to this. When I hover over it, at the very bottom I can see that the MP3 file appears. What I can now do is go ahead and submit the RSS feed from my website to iTunes. To do this, I'm going to go ahead and access iTunes on my computer. Now, iTunes is a free download if you're not currently using it. Now that I'm in iTunes, I've already navigated to the iTunes Store. In the iTunes Store, under the main navigation, there's a section called Podcasts.
Once I'm in the Podcast area, on the right-hand side, I can go and scroll down until I see Submit a Podcast. When I click on Submit a Podcast, it's going to ask for the feed to my blog. So here I've got my feed URL, which is quicklyscience.edublogs.org/rss. And I can go ahead and click Continue to submit this podcast to the iTunes Library. Once I do this, my students will be able to access all of my podcasts directly by searching for them inside of iTunes. That makes it really simple for them to download them to an iPod, an iPhone, or even an iPad to listen to during class or at home.
I hope you enjoy making your own podcasts and sharing them with your students. I will see you all next week for the next edition of Teacher Tips.
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