Starting Your Own Education Podcast— What To Know
A podcast is a digital audio story, interview, or conversation. Podcasting has seen tremendous growth over the years with over 500 million podcasts in existence. And via educators like Dr. Sarah Thomas, Vicki Davis, and Jennifer Gonzalez, podcasting has seen a ballooning within the education community.
Everywhere you turn, it seems like podcasts are finding their way into our everyday lives. What’s interesting about podcasts is that they cover just about any and all topics. From pop culture, to politics, to education; you’re bound to find a podcast about a topic that is of interest to you. Podcasts even seem to have their own way of luring listeners and followers who are looking for something different than blog posts and written text. Let’s take a look at the ins-and-outs of education podcasts and hopefully tap the potential that these have for the field of education.
Getting Started with Education Podcasting
Do you find yourself wanting to share innovative strategies, or ideas related to teaching or your field in education? Are you interested in broadening your audience?
These are some of the questions to consider if you are looking into starting your own education podcast. When my friend and colleague, Jeff Bradbury, was first considering starting his podcast, he was impressed by a friend of his who already had one and how easy it was to not only create content, but the global reach that came with it.
Next, get clear on how podcasts can benefit you and your own practice. How can a podcast help you grow as an educator? How do you define success for this endeavor?
Podcasts can be a reflective tool and opportunity to voice your opinions, thoughts, and solutions to some challenges or concerns that affect your specific subject area or field. Bradbury also suggests that you dig deep into your goals and what you plan to achieve from podcasting in the early stages of planning so that your idea doesn’t eventually turn into an afterthought. Ultimately, whichever direction you choose to take, think of podcasts as a format to share your voice and insights.
Once you make the decision to take the plunge, there are several factors that will help narrow your focus and build a foundation for your podcast show. First, dissect the topic you are interested in focusing on and brainstorm some titles for your podcast show. You will want the title to be related to the content you want to share so that your audience and listeners will associate you with your podcast. For example, if you are starting a podcast on teaching math and your goal is to share tips for teachers, your title may have something with the words, “Teaching Math with ______,” or “Math Teaching Tips.”
Next, you want to niche down the focus of your podcast. Instead of covering all things edtech, you will narrow the topics of your show to concentrate on Chromebooks or GSuite within the elementary classroom. Niching down not only helps you in selecting the topics you will discuss in your podcast, it will also help you attract and grow your audience.
Finally, create a tagline for your podcast show. A tagline is a concise phrase that summarizes the purpose or value add of your podcast. Taglines are usually inserted either at the beginning and end of your show to remind listeners about the focus of your show. For example, the tagline for my podcast is: The Mobile University For Edupreneurs.
Building Your Podcast Episodes
After you have laid the groundwork for your podcast show, you want to work on organizing specific episodes for your podcast. Just as you created a title for your podcast show, you will also need to create titles for each episode. Again, make sure that your episode title relates to the content or key points that you will discuss. Furthermore, most podcast episodes have a structure and are divided into three main parts:
- Introduction and Teaser
We’ll discuss all three parts in detail in the section below.
The introduction will either make or break your episode, as it’s the first piece of audio that is heard by your audience. The purpose of an introduction is to present the upcoming segments of the episode. It is a common practice to use a teaser to give a brief summary of the episode that gauges interest among listeners. Some teasers even include excerpts from the episode as a sneak peek. I recommend that you mention the following:
- Welcome the audience
- Provide the name of your podcast show
- State the name of your host(s)
- Mention the topic of the show
However, make sure to keep your introduction and teaser concise and not long because this may turn off some listeners.
The body of your podcast will entail your content, interview, and or conversation. It is good practice to have a plan for this portion of your podcast episode. Bradbury brings up the debate of having a script versus not having a script. He recommends that beginner podcasters make their decision on what will work best for them. So whether you want to include paragraphs in your script or a bullet point list of key ideas, it is highly recommended to have a roadmap.
Another great practice is to jot down 2-3 topics you want to cover for your episode. Throughout this section, make sure you keep the dialogue flowing and interesting. Information and ideas should flow naturally from one point to the next. And always consider the best ways to present your information or make your thoughts and ideas clear to your audience.
The conclusion—or wrap—will close out your podcast. You’ll restate your main points in a few sentences and use this time to make more connections with your audience. At this point in your episode, you can include any contact information for listeners to subscribe to your podcast show and explore the topic further. For example, if you host a blog or want to share your Twitter handle or other social contact information, listeners expect to hear it in the conclusion. Last but not least, make sure you thank your guests for being on your podcast and of course your listeners for tuning in.
The Podcasting Cycle
The process of podcasting involves several stages. According to Ainissa Ramirez, you should focus on:
- Content: what your podcast should be about
- Format: how you want to present that information
- Production: how you will record and create your podcast
- Promotion: how you will spread the word about your podcast.
I have simplified this process to include 3 stages for podcasting:
In the creation stage, it is important to consider the equipment needed for your podcast. It’s a good idea to start with researching microphones and knowing the types that are offered to record your podcast.
First, a condenser is a type of microphone that allows you to be far away from the microphone and record several people at a time. Just be advised that this type of microphone picks up any and all background noises. The second type of microphone is the dynamic microphone, which allows you to get closer to the microphone because it records what is directly in front of it. This type of microphone may be best for solo episodes or interviews conducted via video conferencing platforms. Other terms to become familiar with are how microphones are connected. One way is through USB, or plugging directly into a laptop or apple device through a dongle. The other way is through an XLR, which plugs into a mixer that will allow you to record separate audio tracks.
A few of my favorite microphones recommended for recording podcasts include: Audio Technica 2005 USB, Blue Raspberry, Blue Snowball, Blue Yeti, or Samson. The Samson Q2U is the one I highly recommend for beginning podcasters.
There are a multitude of applications that will allow you to record quality audio for your podcast. If you live within an Apple environment, devices such as MacBooks and iMacs have Garageband built-in. If you’re rocking with iOS devices, you can also use Garageband with iPads and iPhones as well as apps like Anchor. If you’re a Windows person, you can use Zencaster, Audacity, or Soundtrap. They offer free web versions with paid upgrade options. If a Chromebook is your main device, you can use Soundtrap and Spreaker. It’s best to start with what you have and feel most comfortable using before financially investing in more expensive and sophisticated equipment. The idea is to share your story and to start recording!
The next step in the podcasting cycle involves editing. After you have selected your recording device and software you’re going to use, you will need to edit the audio for your episode. For Apple devices I recommend using Garageband and iMovie. For PC’s, I recommend web-based options like Audacity, Soundtrap, or Adobe Premiere.
The final steps of the podcast cycle is hosting and sharing your podcast. Your hosting platform is important because this will be the location where your podcast will be housed and directed to podcast directories like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, etc. Some popular hosting sites include Simplecast, Anchor, SoundCloud, Libsyn, Podbean, and Spreaker. While some offer free membership or perks for educators, others require a subscription or fee. Make sure to do your research to select the best hosting site for your needs.
Sharing your podcast is going to be just as important as the creation phases. This is how you will get your podcast to reach your audience so you need to be proactive during this phase. If you have your own blog or website, it would be best to start posting your podcast episodes, with show notes, there. Another way to share new episodes is through social media platforms. If you are active on Twitter or Instagram, utilize graphics to promote your podcast show.
In the last few years, podcasting has seen its popularity grow among educators. With the variety of podcasts available as well as the accessibility of content via mobile devices, podcasts provide a great escape while driving on your morning commute, while working out, or catching up on household chores.
Additionally, it’s also easier and cheaper to produce high-quality podcasts thanks to some robust free recording and editing tools and your smartphone. Though for the educator, podcasting is a great medium for you to reflect on your classroom practices, share stories, and become an authority in your field.
What are your thoughts one education podcasts? Tell us on Twitter @Schoology