I’m a great believer in pushing boundaries and trying new things. Being heavily interested in technology the world of podcasting and live streaming are areas which I am constantly engaging with. The possibilities with these to support learning are great, although we need to ensure that we are not just producing content for the sake of it. However, when I was trying to decide how I was going to keep in touch with my students during their placement, as well as providing support, a podcast seemed to be the perfect answer.
Podcasting through Placement
In the beginning
I had never really podcasted before. I had produced a series of Wilson Waffling Live, which I was hoping to get to episode 100, but faded out at episode 84. But podcasting was new on my radar. I had recorded my blog posts in an audio form and thought a podcast would be similar. I wanted the podcasts to be useful as well as informative and provide some element of humour/being human. As well as the content being beneficial, I also wanted to ensure that the production and quality was good and so, digging deep into my financial pockets, I invested in some equipment.
Equipment and Content
I wasn’t sure whether I would be making future podcasts and I guess I could have just started with using a mic that I already had and Audacity. However, I always feel better about things if I have some decent equipment so I invested in a Rode microphone and the RodeCaster Pro . I was impressed by the quality of both of these and I must say, they made me feel quite professional.
As for content, initially this was blank page, but after a few emails to the students and some thinking on my walk to work, I came up with some segments that would be included in each episode.
- What the students should be doing in the following week
- Support with their School Based Task
- Answer any of their questions
- A teaching idea
- Some motivational advice.
Every Friday, I managed to sit down with my Google Docs and write the script for the episode. Not being on camera would allow me to read from the script and also I didn’t really want to spend too much time editing afterwards. It was definitely going to be a one take podcast!
Recorded and Published
I would have really liked to record the podcast at work, but due to the equipment being my own, I didn’t want to have to carry it back and forth from work in order to record. After I had written the script, I would try to head home in order to record the podcast and get it published. From an early email from a student, it appeared that some of them listened to the podcast on their journey home, so I was always keen to have it up and ready for about 16:00.
The RodeCaster Pro, recorded well to audacity and, since the buttons on it allowed me to play my jingles as the show progressed (yes I had jingles!) it was usually just a matter of performing some noise reduction, tidying up the start and beginning and then publishing it.
I didn’t have a proper ‘logo’ or anything, so I just decided to use images of cute animals from pixabay.com to make them more visually more appealing. I already had an account with Audioboom from when I recorded my blog posts, so I quickly added a playlist and for the five-week duration.
Impact and Feedback
It is always important to look back over a pilot idea and assess how well it had gone. Even after the first episode had gone live, a few students emailed me to say thank you and to provide questions for the next episode. It was from these first emails that the School-Based Task was added to the schedule.
Overall, the feedback was positive. I acknowledge from the listening figures, that not everyone was listening to the episode, but I figure if it was supporting some learners then it was having a positive impact. One student informed me that they have stored all the teaching ideas for future placements and that it was really beneficial to have the questions answered. I didn’t collect any data to see whether there was a significant impact on the student’s teaching grades or on their general well-being. One thing I find about any ideas I have, I tend to be spontaneous and there is no real opportunity to complete ethics forms in order to gain permission to publish the outcomes.
I did wonder whether I should do a similar podcast for the first years while they were on placement but time and energy didn’t really allow for this. I still have the equipment ready for my next go at podcasting and I have already started to work on an idea for the start of the next academic year. Will I do the podcast for placement next year? Well I think I will, if time allows, then yes I will, although I have to ensure that I don’t just repeat things.
You never know, I do a lot of live streaming in my ‘other career’ so I might even start to have a go at that. One think I will continue to do is engage with new technology in order to support the students, especially when they are working away from the university or learning at a distant.