Presented by Nancy Bentley
Wood End School, Reading, MA
What are podcasts?
Podcasts are amateur radio shows that you can play on your
computer or mp3 player. Podcasts are different from regular audio
files because you can subscribe to them using an RSS feed.
How can I use podcasts in my classroom?
There are so many podcasts that are related to your
classroom curriculum whether you teach preschool or high school.
They can be played for students in school or your students can
download them to their MP3 players and listen to them on their own
time. The itunes store is a great place to get started. You can find
audio and video podcasts under the podcast education section.
They are free, educational and often times entertaining.
Why should I have my students create podcasts?
Having students create podcasts is a great way to teach
students 21st century skills. They require the students to move
beyond the 3 Rs reading, writing, and arithmetic and incorporate the
3 Cs: creating, communicating and collaborating.
Where can I find examples of student created podcasts?
You can look on itunes for schools. Our school’s podcasts
are listed under Wood End Radio. Some Departments of Education
such as Florida have their own pages. A recent article in The Reading
Teacher by S. Michael Putman and Tara Kingsley, October 2009
mentioned these sites.
• Radio Willow Web
• Gadsen City Schools http://www1.gcs.k12.al.us/~podcast/
• Small Voices kinderteacher.podomatic.com
• Eagen High School http://www.eagan.k12.mn.us/fletcher/
What do I need to create podcasts?
Podcasts are easy and inexpensive to make. You will need …
• A computer with working sound.
• A microphone. Many laptops have built in microphones.
• Audacity installed on your computer. It is a free download
• LAME encoder to export the MP3 files with Audacity. It’s
a free download available at
• Once you install both programs, remember to open
Audacity and add the LAME Encoder to your MP3 export
set up. Here is a tutorial to help you:
Here are the most important buttons on the Audacity tool bar.
Tip: Remember if the software
does not allow you to click any
of the buttons, it’s probably
because you clicked “pause.”
Click the “stop” button and try
What if I forget how to use Audacity?
There are many sites with instructional videos on Audacity. I
I want to add music to my podcast, but I am worried about copyright laws.
urceshas music that you can import into Audacity. Always read the
fine print to determine if songs are safe to use. Since not a ll the
songs on the website are appropriate for children, I usually select a
few songs for my students to choose from and place them in a
folder on my desktop.
I finished making my podcast and exported the MP3 file, now what?
Once you turn your podcast into an mp3 file, you are ready to
upload it to a host site, so your students, their parents, etc. can hear
the podcast and subscribe to future podcasts. There are many free
host sites available. Two sites that I have used are podbean.com
and gcast.com. I prefer podbean.com for several reasons. It gives
you a user-friendly webpage and your account can be linked to
itunes. Anyone can go to podbean.com and set up a free account. I
have created a couple of tutorial videos to help get you started.
The first video will help you upload your mp3
files to your podbean account.
The second video will show you how to link
your account to itunes. The process is a little more
complicated but it only has to be completed once.
Remember that before you upload your students’ work to the
internet, you will need their parent(s)’/guardians’ permission.
There is a sample permission slip on our district’s wiki
I recorded my students using a digital voice recorder. How do I edit their files?
Digital voice recorders (DVRs) are handy tools. Most digital
voice recorders use WMA files. Unfortunately, Audacity does not
support WMA files, so you need to convert your WMA files to MP3s
before you can edit them in Audacity. There are a few ways you can
convert the files.
You can use itunes to convert your WMA files to MP3 files. I created a
video to explain the process: http://tinyurl.com/wmatomp3itunes I
also listed the steps: First plug you digital voice recorder into the
USB drive of your computer. The computer will prompt you to select
which program you want to use to open the files, hit cancel. Next,
open itunes. Click on edit and select “preferences” from the drop
down menu. When the preference window opens, select the
“advanced” tab. Once the “advanced” tab opens, you will see
three new tabs. Click on the tab labeled “importing”. Look for the
words “importing using”. Then select “MP3 Encoder” from the
drop down menu next to those words. Now click the “OK” button
in the bottom of the window. Now you are ready
to convert your files.
Click on file and then select “import” from
the drop down menu. You will need to find your
DVR. You can look in the “my computer” folder. My DVR is titled
“WS_311M”. Your DVR might have a different name, so look around
for it. Click on your DVR and you will see your file folders. Select the
correct folder. Then click on the file you want to convert and hit
“open”. A window will pop up with a message. Click on
“convert”. After a few seconds, itunes will make a noise to
indicate that it’s done converting your file. You should be able to
see your file in your music library. (Repeat this process for any
other files that you would like to convert.) Now you can drag your file
on to your desktop or working folder.
You are ready to import your file into Audacity. After you open
Audacity, click on “project” and select “import audio” from the
drop down menu. Find the file you just moved to your desktop or
working folder. Then click open.
Zamzar.com is another way you can convert WMA files to MP3 files. One of
the benefits of using zamzar.com as oppose to itunes is that it walks
you through the process. However, you need to enter an email
address and a third party (zamzar.com) has a copy of your
students’ work. Sometimes there are annoying pop-up ads too.
Here is a video demonstration: