Category Archives: podcast

Time to Podcast

I chose Anchor as the podcasting tool I wanted to review. There are many benefits to using podcasts in the classroom and Anchor has lots of interesting features.  According to Anchor’s website  it “is an all-in-one platform where you can create, distribute, and monetize your podcast from any device, for free.”  It allows you to easily create and enhance your podcast to make it sound very professional.

I used Anchor to create a podcast with my son.  I interviewed my son and asked him to assess my French pronunciation while I read the book “Dans L’Arbre”.  The podcast is available on my blog, The Start of My Learning Journey.  I was shocked by how easy it was to create a professional sounding podcast, while hanging out in my home!  The features that I liked were, you can record from anywhere, build episodes, edit your audio, and add background music and sound effects.

The fact that you can record anywhere using the microphone on your phone and the app, is amazing. When I first heard this, I imagined the podcast would sound similar to a phone call.  But if you listen to my podcast, it sounds like my son and I were in a recording studio, not hanging out in a quiet room in our house!  The superior sound quality was very surprising and the convenience of being able to record from anywhere with my phone is a huge plus.  This is also great for students because not all students have access to a computer, but nearly all students have access to a smartphone

The next feature I liked was the episode builder.  It allowed you to easily combine different audio clips, transition sounds and sound effects to create a cohesive podcast.

There is also an editing tool built into the app that allows you to easily trim the beginning/end of the audio, or cut parts out of the middle, right on your phone.  I experimented with Audacity to try to edit audio.  It is amazing all the things that you can do with Audacity, but it is also complicated if you have no experience editing audio.  That is what I liked about the Anchor editing tool.  It was simple enough that most people can easily use it.

The final feature of Anchor that I really liked was the ability to easily add background music and sound effects.  I feel that the addition of these things is what changes a recording of two people talking, to something that sounds like a professional podcast.  I was a little worried about adding background music to my podcast.  I have had experience with other software, where the background music was either too loud for the voices or just distracting.  When I added background music with Anchor, it automatically added a couple of seconds of the music to the beginning of our recording.  Once we started talking, the background music’s volume automatically decreased, so we could easily be heard.  Once we were done talking, the background music volume increased and played it for a couple more seconds at the end.  It did all of this with a single click.

I would recommend Anchor to anyone, for ease of use and the professional-sounding podcasts that it creates.

There are so many ways that podcasts could be used within the classroom.  In the blog, Using Podcasts in the Classroom,  the author discusses the main benefits of podcasts in the classroom and I think she really nailed why they are important and a great tool to use.  Here are the benefits that were mentioned:

Student Engagement– this is HUGE! When students love what they’re doing in your classroom they are instantly engaged. Plus the topics they get to choose from to listen to are so interesting!
Listening Skills– this might be my favorite benefit yet. Listening skills are SO important, and it can be hard to find ways to foster those with our students. Podcasts are a perfect solution to this!
Student Independence-You knew I was going to incorporate that somehow right?! I mean.. letting them choose what to listen to is such GOLD!
Reflective Thinking– Not only are they listening out of interest and engagement, but then we take it a step further and reflect on what we listened to. This involves thinking, writing, and even using our reading skills like summarizing, comparing and contrasting, and more!

Some ways podcasts can be incorporated into a classroom are:

  1. Create a podcast to demonstrate language skills.  If students are learning a new language, they can create a podcast to record a conversation between themselves to demonstrate what they have learned.
  2. Accommodate different learning styles. Some students are audio learners, so they could find a podcast that relates to the subject being taught.  Or rather than writing a report, they can create a podcast on the subject.
  3. Interview someone that is an expert on a subject matter.  Students can help create the questions for the interview and it can be used for current and future students.
  4. Create a radio show.  Students can create a radio show discussing current events or any topic they find interesting.
  5. Communication with parents.  Students can create a podcast with the teacher to communicate with parents about what is happening in the classroom.

The number of ways that podcasts can be incorporated into a classroom seems endless.  How do you think you could use podcasts in your classroom?

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A review of Anchor – “The best way to make a podcast”

This week in EC&1 831, we were tasked to find a tool or app that we haven’t used before that could be used to make learning visible.  After a few discussions in class and Twitter about podcasts, I am eager to look at the podcasting tool Anchor. I really liked how my classmate Jessica set up her review, so I will be borrowing her format. Thanks Jessica!

Why I chose Anchor:

First, a(n unnecessary) preamble:

I have been a lover of podcasts since 2012. I was obsessed with Season 1 of  “Serial”  and loved this new distraction tool during long drives, while doing laundry or going for a run.  I dabbled in serious and educational podcasts, thinking it was important to use the time to learn something new. Then on an all-inclusive vacation in 2013, my best friend introduced me to The Pretty Good Podcast – a daily nonsense podcast that was mostly fluff.  This mindless listening was so relaxing that now my preferred podcasts are comedy and pop culture.  I enjoyed connecting with the podcasters through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  I then moved into the world of Adam Carolla and eventually Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend.  This information is probably not important, but I think that a podcast listening list says a lot about a person.  (So I should probably say I like to listen to This American Life or Revisionist History to sound more interesting.)

I always wondered how I could use podcasts in the classroom.  As a personal project, my sister, niece and I decided to start a podcast two years ago. We created an opening theme song, branded logo for Twitter and Instagram, bought a domain and even recorded a few episodes using Audacity.  But we ran into trouble when we couldn’t figure out how to easily host and distribute our podcast, especially for free.  So we gave up.

SO, why Anchor? Because:

Anchor is an all-in-one platform where you can createdistribute, and monetize your podcast from any device, for free.

  • easy to use (and nice to look at!)
  • free
  • mobile and web options

Overview of the app:

After downloading from the App store on my iPhone, I created an account with my personal e-mail and was given a quick tour about podcasting with Anchor:

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**Login options require an email, Google, Facebook or Twitter login. In my division we would use our Google (G Suite) logins, but I’m not sure how this would work with other divisions.

 

 

The app is very intuitive and user friendly and does not require a lot of explanation – it has a “start and go” layout.  After playing around with it for about 20 minutes, I was able to record a few sections, add some musical interludes, “drops” or sound effects and transitions.  There is an option to add music if you link an Apple Music or Spotify account, but the music is only available if you listen to the podcast within the Anchor app.

The audio editing function is very straightforward and allows you to split tracks and trim the beginning and ending of each clip.  There are not a lot of audio editing options (compared to a program like Audacity – no fading, adjusting speed, pitch, etc), but the simplicity would be perfect for students.  You can also import existing audio (like from a Voice Memo, or a pre-recorded theme song) easily through the mobile app or web page.

Review:

Pros:

  • simple, easy-to-use interface
  • basic editing functions that would suit the needs of students
  • Mobile and web platforms are similar (ex. mobile app has all the same functions as web)
  • Record many clips over a long period of time before putting together an episode
  • Easy podcast distribution (and options to monetize) – step-by-step prompts that are quick to follow

Cons:

  • The ‘Discover’ option on the app allows you to explore different podcasts. This might be hard to monitor with students to make sure the use is appropriate
  • basic (limited) audio editing functions
  • everyone involved in the recording need to be in the same location (unless you use Skype or another type of audio conference, which would compromise quality). There is a ‘Record with Friends’ option, but it is only available on the mobile app.

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Overall, Anchor is appealing because of it’s clean and simple interface.  There are easy functions (but limited options) with editing that would make it ideal for use in a classroom setting.  Also, once you set up an account, you can access your work from the mobile app or on a computer via the web page. The hosting, distribution and monetization options are great, but probably not necessary for working with students.

Using the tool personally:

Since creating a podcast with my sister and niece as a little “passion-project” a couple years ago, we might revisit our work and try uploading the existing audio files to Anchor and distribute our podcast. One of the requirements for distribution is that you have a podcast name and cover art, which we already have…so maybe we will try it out!

Using the tool in instruction situations:

I think there are lots of cross-curricular options with podcasting.  As an arts education teacher, maybe my focus would be more on the overall design of the podcast (cover art, theme song, use of sound effects and musical interludes). You could use podcasts in every subject, maybe with inquiry projects, interviews, book reviews… the list goes on.  The simplicity of Anchor means the focus stays on content rather than trying to figure out how to use the app.

Using the tool to document learning and growth:

Podcasts can be used as e-portfolios for students and allow for opportunities to document personal reflections.  Since you can record many clips over an extended period before putting together an ‘episode’, it allows students to keep a running documentation of their learning or projects.

Overall, I am very impressed with Anchor. It is easy to use with a simple interface, basic set up and functions.  I am excited to use it personally so I have a very strong understanding of the functions before rolling it out with students.

Does anyone have experience using Anchor with students? Did you require any division approval before using the app?