Say you are curious about starting your own podcast or maybe as an educator you have contemplated bringing this medium into your classroom (Need to be convinced that podcasts are powerful? Listen to the Cult of Pedagogy). It can seem overwhelming to start, at least that is how I felt. Similarly, to writing a chapter for an OER, the first way I was exposed to sharing my learning and knowledge in an open medium, podcasting can be intimidating. The authenticity of it all, and the fact that real humans might hear your voice, can be downright frightening. But, as I am a sucker for punishment and I really do learn by doing, just like with Open Education I jumped into Podcasting in a similar way…head first without a floaty.
To start off with, I did a bit of a deep dive into the world of podcasting. I had absolutely no experience with it and was truly starting from scratch. We were lucky to be able to reach out to and connect with some experienced individuals (who I am grateful for – please see Blog #1).
If you cannot connect directly to a podcast expert, I also found the Gimlet Academy extremely inspiring and helpful. Gimlet is a giant in the production world of podcasts and in this academy they take you step by step through the components that make a podcast great. They also happen to produce my new favourite podcast Reply All. Listening to the Academy helped me particularly with deciding how to structure interview questions and episodes. This area is still a work in progress for me, but it was good to have the concept of creating anchor points and looking for emotion and stories in the audio as I started recording.
The first podcast was recorded using a tool called Zencastr. Zencastr allows you to record audio and video for your podcasts for free (up to …. A month). I liked Zencastr because it allowed me to save each person’s audio as a separate file. This helped later on when editing as I could cut out any unnecessary and distracting background noise. I did have a massive scare after we completed the first recording, each guest must keep their Zencastr open until the audio file finalizes on their end, otherwise it doesn’t cloud properly and the host cannot download the files. After our lengthy chat I realized quickly that I didn’t have access to the guests audio files, which led to a series of panic attacks, some troubleshooting, and eventually the successful download of all files. Avoid the stress and tell your guests to stay online until their file is finalized. You can pay for some post production within Zencastr which I will attempt on the second episode to see if it’s worth it.
The next step was to take the hour and a half of audio and cut it down to an episode, our first episode. For episode 1 “The Beginnings…” our goal was to introduce who we are and why we wanted to do a podcast. Like with research, it helped us to situate ourselves within the project. We all come in with our own unique experiences with open and our own biases, we wanted our listener to understand this and to think about their own before we moved into conversations with the outside world. To edit I used Audacity, a free open source audio editing software. I found Audacity to be fairly user friendly, I managed to understand the basics quite quickly. That being said, when I listen to the actual podcast I can point out everything I want to change and just don’t know how to yet. Please bare with me as my skills improve. I started to play with adding other sounds into the mix, including the introduction tune. All of these audio clips were sourced from open source audio sites (ccmixter, YouTube Audio Library). I feel like once you start to get into audio and audio editing a whole new set of questions surrounding music copyright surface. I really wanted to include a clip from Romper Room, and was able to use YouTube to do this, but I’m still not sure as to if I can actually use it. I could easily see teachers and students running into the same issues and having the same question.
Editing is time consuming! Particularly if you are new to all of the tools. Cutting the first episode down to under 30 minutes took me the better part of a day, and I am still not entirely happy with the results.
Is it worth it, absolutely! From an educator’s perspective I can see how even just the process of developing a podcast could connect with so many parts of the curriculum. At the heart of any good podcast is a story and learning how to engage an audience through digital storytelling is a huge skill that can be applied to a range of contexts.
Cover image: https://unsplash.com/photos/UUPpu2sYV6E