22 May 2014

Pondering the Podcast

Yep, my classroom just happens to be a professional recording studio.
Next assignment in this podcasting whirlwind: a reflection.

So in my last post, I shared my first ever attempt at podcasting. I used some technology I'm familiar with and some that I'm not. I've used ACID since I was little. Yes, that sounds weird, but that's just what happens when your music creation tool of choice has the name "ACID." It gets better. I show my students how to use it, so I'm sure they all go home to announce to their parents, "In multimedia we learned how to use acid!" Anyway, Xpress is their free version with a few sample loops. They release 8 packs every week or so, so you can slowly but freely build up your loop collection. I have some loops leftover from when I owned a paid version long ago, and I bought some loop collections.

Anyway, I've also used Audacity to some extent. It's pretty straightforward. I just plugged in my nerdy headset, hit record, and started talking. Then I went through and cut out some mistakes and excessive umm-ing, exported a WAV file, threw it in ACID, and rendered an MP3 to upload to PodBean. Simple, right?

I'm new to PodBean, and so far I'm impressed. The free version gives you 50mb worth of space, which, if all my podcasts are the same length as the one I just created, will translate into about 10 podcasts. Their cheapest paid plan comes in at $36/year which allows more space and customization. When people start subscribing to my podcasts in the hordes I'll think about upgrading.

I listen to a few podcasts myself. My absolute favorite podcast has to be Radiolab. High quality audio, high quality hosts and content. Perfect for the commute or the road trip. Then I discovered Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! which is a hilarious weekly news recap. And recently I've been blowing through How to Do Everything, which covers three random topics in about 15 minutes, also fairly entertaining. I tried to find podcasts related to education and educational technology but after being raised by those three high quality podcasts, it's hard to get into something that's just one boring person interviewing another boring person.

For my first podcast, I simply chose a topic that would be fairly easy to cover in the time allotted, and I went with it. It was fun, and I'm surprisingly not totally turned off by my own voice. I've been creating screencast tutorials for a while, now, so doing just audio wasn't too much of a stretch. However, after a Google search to page two (I don't want to use the same source as all the other kids in my class), I found a site called the journal whose byline is "Transforming Education Through Technology" (where have they been all my life?). So in the future, you and I will follow these guidelines as we transform education through podcasting:

  1. Be Prepared. I swear this is a recommendation for anything related to education. I get it. Prepare more. Though it kinda contradicts my guerrilla mentality... Then again, it doesn't mean you have to write a script. I'm terrible at reading scripts, but using bullet points is great.
  2. Focus on Sound. One thing that makes Radiolab so great is that one of the hosts, Jad Abumrad, is a sound engineer and obsesses over it. Every story has fantastic moody music and sound effects that add to the experience. I don't intend to do anything that remarkable, but I did use a nerdy headset to record my audio. And I checked the volume levels and removed excess space and content to keep the podcast short.
  3. Edit Wisely. Dangit, I just talked about how wise I was with my editing in the last piece of my <ol>. They say that kids can't handle more than 15 minutes of podcast. I disagree. They can't handle more than 6.
  4. Be Consistent. That's why I created my very professional music intro to my podcast. I'm thinking next time I'll add a teaser, then do the intro, then get into the content. Being consistent, like being prepared, is yet another staple in the advice-for-teachers arena.
  5. Follow the Leaders. I'm all for the concept of imitating the masters to learn the craft. It's why I started incorporating the heck out of Pinterest in my graphic design classes. No, we don't plagiarize. We imitate, learn, iterate, create. (Man, that would be a catchy phrase if 'learn' were replaced with something that ends in -ate. Educate? Only that's on the other end of learning.) My cheesy little music intro was inspired by the intro that Radiolab does. Pretty much just as good, right? No, I've got my work cut out for me.
With that, I'm going to look for some free images from Pixabay to make this article flashier.

I need a sign-off phrase to use in my blog posts and podcasts. "Enjoy!" I like that one. I'll think about it. Hasta lueguito.

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