Tai Poole has been hosting the podcast series Tai Asks Why? with the Canadan Broadcasting Company (CBC) since he was 11. Each episode is under 30 minutes and delves into thought-provoking topics like: How much is too much screen time? What is love? And, What's happening to my teenage brain?, with insight from Tai’s family members, experts and scientists.
Tai is one of many young people starting their own podcasts, building an audience and brand around them. As an educator, why not get your students in on the podcasting action. You don’t need fancy equipment to get started, and the process of podcasting teaches invaluable skills. Producing a podcast requires students to articulate an idea, as they showcase their understanding and learning.
Students can create podcasts independently or in collaborative groups. The content can be serious or light hearted, fictional or grounded in truth. Podcasts cover a wide variety of subjects including science, current events, history, fan fiction and storytelling.
If they aren’t sure where to begin, they can listen to published podcast examples to help determine the direction and format. that feels comfortable for them.
Podcasting builds skills
When students produce a podcast, they become problem solvers and enhance their technology skills. The ISTE Standards for Students call for students to express themselves in a variety of formats and platforms. Throughout the podcasting process, students apply research, writing and verbal skills to communicate a message. When students create their own podcasts, they act as knowledge constructors and empowered learners.
Here are three more reasons to create podcasts with students.
1. Empower learners
Most of the information students receive is in multimodal formats: digital, print, visual and audio. Podcasts are tools for learning information and content. Podcasts come in a variety of formats and topics. My students are currently listening to the murder mystery podcast series Tig Torres: Lethal Lit as a mentor text for their own mystery stories they are creating.
2. Initiate global connections and collaboration
Creating podcasts for a wider audience is engaging and authentic. The New York Times and National Public Radio both host annual podcasting contests for teens to create and record original audio material under 10 minutes on any topic. Sharing student-created podcasts with the world enriches the learning experience for the listeners as well as the podcast creators.
3. Apply digital citizenship
Sharing podcasts with local and global audiences requires students to create a positive, safe, ethical and legal digital behavior. Producing a podcast requires students to record and edit digital content. Students are required to choose sound effects, record interviews and include sound bites from experts to add engaging features that draw the listeners' attention. Podcasting depends on creative communication.
Michele Haiken is an avid podcast listener and uses podcasts as texts to read closely and critically with her middle school students. She is the author of ISTE’s Jumpstart Guide Podcasting for Students: Tips and Tools to Drive Creative Expression (2020). Learn more about how she uses podcasts with her students on her blog The Teaching Factor and connect with her on Twitter @teachingfactor and Instagram @teaching_factor.