Using Podcasts to Keep Students Connected

Integrating podcasts into your curriculum is a fun and free way to create engaging lessons and ensure 24/7 learning.

By Jonathan Civitella

Podcasts in the Classroom

One of the most challenging tasks a teacher has is trying to extend the learning experience beyond the traditional classroom setting. In the past, that task was more difficult, but thanks, in large part, to a variety of open-source Web 2.0 tools (e.g., Prezi, an online presentation tool) and user-friendly high-tech gadgets (e.g., iPod), teachers finally have the tools needed to overcome that challenge. Along with interactive presentations and social media, podcasting is an excellent way for teachers to create a fun and engaging learning experience outside the classroom. The following ideas are some ways in which to incorporate podcasting into your curriculum.

Current Events

Each morning, I would check RSS feeds and Google alerts/trends and create a podcast recapping the night’s top stories. Each podcast, depending on how much news there was to cover, would last no more than two minutes and would be recorded in a “Glee”- type fashion (i.e., very quickly and end with, “And that’s what you missed while you were ASLEEP!”). I would record everything using Audacity (a free audio recording program) and would upload the podcast using iTunes or another podcast host like PodBean or PodOmatic. My objective in creating these podcasts was to give students something educational to listen to on their iPhones, iPods, etc . . . while getting ready for, or on their way to school.

Review Class Information

My first podcast was created as a way to help three students on extended leave stay connected to my class; little did I realize that these podcasts would become a staple of my instruction. These weekly podcasts were simple by design—an entertaining review of all things covered in class for the week—with suggestions for further exploration (e.g., “book X” tells the story of . . .). No longer could students use the excuse “I didn’t have time to check the class website.” I would remind them, “If you have a smart phone (which many kids/parents do these days) you have my podcasts.” Students can listen to the podcasts in the car, during study hall or on a jog. (This is an idealistic idea I know.) Podcasts are ideal for assessment prep and act as a great “Hey, remember what we learned last week” before class on Monday. It also provides a way to keep students up to speed when they are on an extended leave.

Motivating Way to Show Learning

Although there are several different ways in which to incorporate podcasting in your classes, for example, students can listen to an iTunes U lecture when introducing/closing out a lesson, my favorite way to incorporate podcasts is to have students create podcasts as part of an assignment. You can have students record a speech, conduct an interview, review a book or movie, or even write an original script for their very own radio show (filled with commentary and commercials). You set the parameters and their creativity can take over; you’ll be thrilled with the results. 

The websites 100 Ways to Use your iPod to Learn and Study Better and How to Start a Podcast provide excellent resources to aid in the use of podcasting in your classroom. What follows are more lessons relating to the use of podcasts in the classroom.

Podcast Lessons:

Character Education Podcasts

Students record podcasts in an effort to understand and showcase different character traits.

Create a Greener Place - Podcast

Students write scripts and create podcasts relating to making the world a greener place.

Podcasting Parabolas

After exploring parabolas, students create podcasts to share their discoveries and understanding.

Ancient Greece Podcast

Students create a podcast in the spirit of a modern day news show exploring different aspects of Ancient Greece.