Most students love to learn, regardless of whether or not they admit to it. Although they would lead you to believe that school is a primitive form of torture, they are always seeking out new information and education is no different. Perhaps, it's just a matter of finding the right way to deliver the knowledge to them. In a tech driven world, where students and parents are inundated with information and juggling busy schedules, podcasts can be an excellent tool for processing knowledge and providing information. For our students, creating podcasts in the classroom offers them an opportunity to both learn & problem solve.
The following web-based apps are 3 digital tools available to create podcasts. They are simple and easy to use, and both PodBean and Anchor offer a mobile version that allows you to record audio from anywhere, on any device. To get a good understanding of their features, I set-up accounts and uploaded both audio and visuals to each platform in order to offer a truly side-by-side comparison. These tools provide a wide variety options across each platform. For both auditory learners and the rest of us, podcasts provide new opportunities for those who get to teach, and those who get to learn.
Buzzsprout is one of the most popular options for hosting a podcast. Buzzsprout was my front runner from the very beginning. Although it's paid plans offer a lot more features, including a podcast website, it's free plan offers a good place to start
Buzzsprout's free plan allows you to upload 2 hours per month. However, there's a catch. Audio files are automatically removed after 90 days. So if you're planning on building a following, a paid plan may be a better way to go. Plans start at $12/month, but even the paid plans limit the amount of content you can upload. With this entry level plan, you can upload 3 hours of content and your episodes are hosted indefinitely. Additional hours incur an hourly charge, but as you move up to higher priced plans, the hourly charge is reduced. Buzzsprout does offer audio editing/support for beginners, but this feature is an additional monthly charge as well. Buzzsport does offer some unique features like the addition of chapter markers and visual sound clips, but with some of the basics being upcharged, this option may not be a good fit for beginners.
PodBean is a free podcasting platform for hosting. Unlike Buzzsprout, you can create a podcast website without having to sign up for a paid plan, but that's not really the whole story. If you already have a website, it's not a feature that you'll likely use AND it's not really free.
Podbean's free plan has limited storage, which only provides 5 Hours total storage space (500MB) and 100GB monthly bandwidth, basic podcast stats, etc. In today's tech world, that's not a lot of space. Unlimited audio/storage starts at $9/month, but you're only getting audio. If you want the option to include video podcasts, create mutliple public podcasts, or monetize your channel, prices jump quickly and range from $29 - $99/month.
It was easy to upload audio files to Podbean, but that's where the functionality falls apart. You can add a podcast cover to your episode (and this is where they really lost me), but you are limited to a small file size. I originally created a cover in Canva and had to adjust the image for at least 30 minutes before getting the file small enough to upload. To add insult to injury, after compressing and saving files to the required size, it uploads to Podbean as a larger file. Unlike Buzzsprout, it does partner with Canva either and made this process more complicated than it needed to be. Ultimately, the interface is not very intuitive and there were too many issues/limitations to make it a valid candidate.
Anchor, unlike the other 2 platforms, is completely free! In fact, their whole mission is to make podcasting as accessible as possible. Initially, I didn't really want to like Anchor in because I thought it would have a dependence on Spotify (it's parent company), but it actually delivers a lot of unique features instead.
Other than easily being able to distribute to multiple platforms, you also get unlimited hosting, podcast advertising tools, easy audio editing, and more. In addition to free sound effects and background music, Anchor has the ability to add songs to your episode directly from your Spotify account. Graphics were easy to upload and with the app version, you can record remotely with up to 4 guests - anywhere, anytime. And did I mention - Anchor offers 100% FREE HOSTING and an unlimited number of episodes - no monthly fees, no trial period, not catch! It's clear after exploring these 3 options, Anchor is hands down the best option for both beginners and professionals.
Listen Up: Collection Age & Weeding
Recommended Podcasts for Librarians and Educators
Podcast Recording Tips
Pat Flynn's Beginner Podcast Tutorial offers 10 Easy Tips to help you develop a successful podcast. The full video offers advice on everything from equipment to publishing, so that you can get your podcast up and running quickly.
Stay close to the microphone
Green = Good / Red = Bad
Always Test Record
Hook Listeners at the Beginning
Imagine your target listener and talk to them
Keep Rolling with the mistakes / edit later
Create a rough outline / Use bullet points or post its to record
Don't over edit
Keep it Fun!
Guys Listen. (2018, September 14). Books on Tape.
Handing Students the Mic: Podcasting to Increase Engagement. (n.d.). ASCD.