As evidenced by the episodes published for NPR’s student podcasting challenge, podcasting is a good way for students to share their ideas with the world. In the process of creating a podcast students practice thinking through and articulating their ideas. But if the audio quality isn’t good, no one can hear those ideas. Here are some relatively easy ways to create good audio recordings.
Unless they’re the next Joe Rogan students probably can’t get away with making a rambling three hour recording and expect people to listen to it. Before hitting the record button students should have a plan for what they’re going to say in their podcasts. The West Virginia Department of Education has an easy-to-follow podcast planning template. You can get the template right here as a Google Document.
It can be hard to do in a school setting, but try to find a quiet place to record. It’s even better if that quiet place has carpeted floors and wood or drywall walls. Those kinds of floors and walls are less prone to echo than concrete or brick floors and walls. Students might be tempted to record outdoors. If they do that, they should have a good microphone with a windscreen to cut down on wind noise.
Microphone & Windscreen
Even a cheap lapel microphone with a built-in windscreen (the ones linked here cost $2) plugged into a laptop or phone can go a long way toward improving the quality of an audio recording. An external microphone significantly lowers the chances of an echo or reverb sound in the recording. If you want to have two students record on the same device, a splitter like this one will do the trick.
Moving beyond lapel microphones, there are lots of other external microphones suitable for podcasting. I’ve used and recommended Blue Snowball microphones for years. A little windscreen placed in front of it will help buffer and clear light background noise and echo.
Clap & Pause
Editing an audio recording is much easier if you make a loud clap before a brief pause and then begin speaking. The same is true if you need to pause while recording. That clap will be easy to hear and will be easy to see in audio editing tools. In audio editing tools like Audacity and GarageBand that clap and pause will be identified by a big visual spike followed by a steep drop. You won’t need to listen through the whole recording to find the places you need to edit because you’ll see them in the audio editor. Watch the video below for demonstration of how this works.
Bumpers & Editors
Add a little intro music to set the tone and scene for a podcast. Use a little bumper music or sound effect to segue between sections of a podcast. Here’s a list of good places to find free music and sound effects.
There are lots of free tools for editing and publishing audio recordings. Audacity and GarageBand have been the standard for years and they’re still great. There are some other options out there that are also good. Anchor.fm is one that I like a lot. My tutorial on it is available here.
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