Soundtrap, the popular music and podcast creation tool, has announced unlimited storage and new features for their free tier. These changes will undoubtedly appeal to educators, and anyone else who is looking to create audio on a budget. It’s an exciting move and one that will help open more doors for creators. Here’s what you need to know.Continue reading “Soundtrap Launches New Free Plan With Unlimited Storage”
Anchor are continuing their march to podcast dominance with the launch of the new Anchor iPad app. Although you could always use the iPhone version of the app on an iPad, the experience, like most iPhone apps on an iPad, was less than ideal. The new app makes much better use of the larger screen and will of course sync all your recordings from the web and your phone. However, the iPad app also brings a collection of brand new iPad specific features, so here’s a look at what you can expect.
Anchor, a popular mobile podcasting platform, has been around for a couple of years now, but today’s update may be the breakthrough moment it needs to establish itself as the go-to podcasting platform for would-be podcasters who want powerful features without the complexity that usually comes with producing a professional podcast. Here’s what you need to know.
Introducing Anchor 3.0
Up until today, Anchor was an app you could use on iOS or Android to record short podcasts that you upload to the web and share with others. So, what’s new in version 3? Quite a lot actually. Here are some highlights:
- A redesigned mobile app
- A new web dashboard with audio creation tools and analytics
- The ability to upload audio to the web that was recorded or edited elsewhere
- Seamless sync between mobile and web dashboards
- Unlimited recording and free podcast hosting
- Easy distribution to Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify
- You can add draft recordings for publishing at a later date
- New web profiles with custom URLs
- Podcast transfer support to bring podcasts hosted elsewhere to Anchor
These features are added to existing functionality that includes the ability to record with up to 10 other people, the ability to play call-in voice messages, automatic audio to text transcription, and the option to add a variety of musical transition effects.
Anchor for Schools?
Anchor is an iPhone app on iOS, but it works on iPads too. It is supported on Android, and now has a web platform that works on Mac, PC and Chromebooks. Anchor is also 100% free right now. There is nothing you can pay for, even if you wanted to. This makes it an appealing option for educators, but is there a catch?
At some point, Anchor will need to start paying back its investors. My guess is that this will come in the form of ads that are placed before, during or after your podcast, with the addition of an ad-free tier that you can pay for if you want to. This is just speculation on my part, but something to think about if you are considering Anchor for podcasting with your students or colleagues.
Until then, it’s still a compelling option for teachers. Opinion Podcasts was a favorite of mine right up until they decided they could no longer afford to host your podcasts for free. But, there’s nothing to say that you can’t enjoy Anchor while you can because who knows what the future will hold.
Do You Wanna Build a Podcast?
If you’re reading this post because you are thinking of creating a podcast yourself, then I would encourage you to listen to episode 39 of The Edtech Take Out, a podcast that I co-host with Mindy Cairney. In this episode, we talk about how to plan and produce your first podcast. We don’t mention Anchor specifically, but there are lots of ideas and options here that would be transferable if you did decide to make a leap into podcasting. You can find The Edtech Take Out in the Apple Podcasts app or on Google Play Music. You can also find it in Overcast, Pocket Casts, and other good podcast players.
Sometimes it’s hard to justify the expense of new technology at school, but if it can be used in multiple ways, the added value almost sells itself. So, if you are looking to add a podcast station to your classroom, here are some quick ideas for what else it can be used for when you are not podcasting.
1. Fluency Practice
Elementary students will work on reading fluency at pretty much every grade level. With a podcast station, students can record themselves and listen back to what they read in order to hear themselves and listen to the areas that they think they need to improve on. The teacher also gets a record of each student that they can use to share with parents or peers. Older students who are in speech or are practicing an oral presentation can use the podcasting station in much the same way.
2. Listening Comprehension
A good way to meet some of those speaking and listening standards is to practice some listening comprehension. This is particularly useful when you consider that many state standardized tests already have this component. This station could be part of a blended rotation and need not require multiple computers if you have something like this 5-way headphone splitter that allows up to five students to listen to the same audio at once. Websites like ListenWise already cater to this demand, while others have already noted that Listening to Podcasts Helps Kids Improve Reading Skills.
3. Video Creation
A podcast station is basically a collection of computers, microphones and headphones. Coincidentally, this is often what you would have if you were putting together a video station. Teachers can use the very same equipment to make videos for flipped classroom lessons. Students can use the computers to edit video and the microphones to add professional sounding voice-overs.
4. Audio Responses
I think it is always good to give students options over how best to submit assignments. That is one of the reasons why I like SeeSaw so much. Text, audio, video and more can be used as a way to showcase learning. Your podcast station is a perfect place for students to leave audio responses to question prompts and another way to reinforce those speaking and listening standards. What if you had a question of the day for your elementary students to answer each time they came to school, or the option for older students to record an video response in Recap?
5. Skype Station
Another great use of your microphones (and headphones) could be for video conferencing. Whether you are playing Mystery Skype or taking a virtual field trip, the technology you put in your podcast station could easily be repurposed for the duration of these activities. There are many Skype in the Classroom ideas that are available to teachers, so your microphones and computers will go to good use here.
Podcasting is easier, and more popular, today than it ever has been. It can be a great way for student’s to have their voices hear and to communicate with a wider audience. It hits lots of speaking and listening goals and is a cross curricular activity that can be a lot less time consuming than creating a video. Best of all, you don’t need a lot of equipment to get started. Here’s what you need to know.
Choosing the Right Microphone
Let’s get right to it. You’re going to need a microphone. You might think the one on your computer is enough, (and it might be for some purposes), but an external microphone will give you a much better sound. If you don’t buy anything else, buy a decent microphone. It absolutely makes a difference, and your listeners will thank you for it.
Basically there are two types of microphones you will come across in your search. Dynamic microphones and condenser microphones. To save complexity and the need for a mixer, I am just going to talk about USB microphones in this guide.
Dynamic microphones are commonly used by TWIT, 5by5 and other big name podcast networks. They pick up less background audio than a condenser microphone, so this can make them a good choice for noisy classrooms. However, they require a good microphone technique. You need to sit close to the microphone and speak directly into it. If you sit back, talk to the side, or have multiple students talking around one microphone, you may not get the results you hoped for with a dynamic mic. This is not to say that dynamic microphones are bad, you just have to know how to use them.
Condenser microphones are a little more forgiving. They can have multiple settings that will allow you to record audio all around the microphone, on two sides of the microphone, or just the from the front. Wider recording patterns will lessen the overall quality of the recording, and lead to more background noise, but your microphone technique does not need to be quite as good and that makes them ideal for younger students. In addition, some people prefer the sound of condenser microphones. They can sound richer due to the wider frequencies that are recorded, but they do work best in quieter environments. More on that later.
Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB – a great dynamic microphone for podcasting
- Samson Q2U – a good alternative to the ATR2100, includes headphones
- Blue Ice Snowball – a basic, good quality USB mic
- Blue Snowball – includes omni-directional recording mode
- Blue Yeti – adds gain control, a headphone jack and a mute button
Microphones for iPhones & iPads
- iRig Mic Lav (1 pack) – a clip on lavalier mic that connects to a mobile device
- iRig Mic Lav (2 pack) – a pair of clip on lavalier mics that records audio from two sources
- iRig Mic – entry level microphone for video and podcasting needs with multiple settings
- iRig Mic HD – records higher quality audio and has a lightning cable interface
Note, if you are using a USB microphone with an iPad, you will need a lightning to USB adapter to give you the USB interface you need to plug in the microphone.
The Recording Environment
At the end of the day, no matter what microphone you pick, the biggest challenge for a classroom teacher is finding a quiet spot to record the audio. You absolutely can do it in your classroom, but background noise will often be audible. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but in order to focus the listener’s attention on the speaker, you will want to minimize that as much as you can.
Ideally you want to avoid large rooms with lots of hard surfaces. This has an adverse effect on the audio because the sound bounces around and echos off walls and surfaces before returning to the microphone. Smaller spaces with carpeted floors and/or soft furnishings are ideal because they absorb reverb and background noise, as well as reduce the echo effect you may get in larger rooms.
If you have to record in the classroom, you might consider a portable sound booth. You can buy one, or make your own with some acoustic foam and a cardboard box, plastic tote, or a folding fabric cube that you might find at Walmart or Target. See an example here.
A pop filter cuts down on the plosive sounds you might hear during an audio recording. These noises are caused when you pronounce words with sounds like b, p, t, or k because they require your mouth to exhale additional air in order to pronounce them properly. This can cause a popping sound on your audio recording.
To avoid this, podcasters use a pop filter. It acts like a shield in front of the microphone to block the air that would otherwise go straight towards the microphone. It is a subtle effect, but a noticeable one, especially when you compare the audio you get with and without a pop filter. They are low tech, and generally cheap, so they are always a good investment. They also come in all shapes and sizes. Here are a few good ones:
- Dragonpad USA Pop Filter
- Auphonic 6-inch Microphone Pop Filter
- Mudder Recording Studio Windscreen Pop Filter
- Foam Windscreen for Blue Yeti
Not everyone likes to edit audio files but if you want to add music or sound effects to your podcast, or correct any mistakes you or your students make along the way, then you are going to need some kind of audio editor. Thankfully, there are a lot of perfectly good free options to complement the fuller featured paid versions. Audacity is a popular, free audio editor that is available for Mac and PC. It takes a little but of getting used to, but there are hundreds of YouTube tutorials to get you started, and you probably won’t need even half of what it can do to edit or enhance your audio. Other options are below:
- Garageband (Mac or iPad)
- Logic Pro X (Mac)
- Adobe Audition (Mac or PC)
- Soundtrap (Mac, PC, Chromebook, iPad)
- Twisted Wave (Mac, PC, Chromebook, iPad)
- Ferrite Recording Studio (iPad)
- Voice Record Pro 7 (iPad)
- Audacity (Mac or PC)
Headphones are useful for editing audio, but several microphones let you plug in headphones to monitor the volume of your audio as you record it. If you already have headphones in your school/classroom, then I would be tempted to just use those providing they were in decent shape. If you were looking to buy headphones for podcasting, I would recommend you look at studio or monitor headphones. These headphones typically give a purer audio experience that is not artificially enhanced with bass or other effects. In short, they give a more neutral, balanced sound. Here are some good headphones that are worth a look.
Sony MDRV6 – Many people’s lists begin and end here. These are a popular podcast headset.
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50 – Another great choice, but not a cheap choice. I have these ones.
- Audio-Technica ATH-M20x – A more affordable version of the headphones above.
- LyxPro HAS-10 – Popular studio headphones that won’t break the bank.
By definition, a podcast is generally distributed via some kind of online service. This allows people to listen to your podcast in an online player, download it to listen offline, or subscribe to it in a mobile app via an RSS feed. The online services that allow this are called hosting sites. There are many to choose from. Many have free components but you can expect restrictions so be sure to compare and contrast carefully. They include services like:
If you want to list your podcast in iTunes or Google Play Music so others can discover, subscribe and listen to your show, you are going to need a hosting service that provides you with an RSS feed. All the options above include that at no extra cost. Once you have that, you follow a simple process to submit your RSS feed to Apple’s Podcasts Connect service or Google’s Play Music Portal. You can absolutely submit to both directories in order to attract the widest audience, but for better or worse, iTunes is where the majority of people get their podcasts.
Regular readers may know that I co-host a podcast with my colleague, Mindy Cairney, called The Edtech Take Out. We started in January 2016 and have recorded 15 episodes so far, with more planned for release very soon. For our last podcast, we were invited to record live at the ITEC Fall Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. It was a great experience, and we loved connecting with other educators to learn new things to take back to the teachers we work with.
Because the content of the podcast is very similar to the content I add to this blog, I thought I would do a little cross-promotion and add a post here when new episodes are released. So, if you have never listened to the show before, those of you with Apple devices can listen on iTunes while Android users can use Google Play Music. The Edtech Take Out is also available in all good podcast players so you should be able to search and find the show in Overcast, PocketCasts, and more.
All new episodes are posted at dlgwaea.org/podcast and can be listened to there on the embedded web player. I also upload all our episodes to YouTube, so there are multiple ways to listen, depending on what is most convenient for you. If you haven’t listened to the show before, we would love to have you as a listener, and maybe even a future guest! The YouTube version of our ITEC episode is below, so feel free to take a peek.
Are you new to podcasts? Wondering what all the fuss is about? Fear not, I have just the information you need to get started:
Podcasts have a big influence on my personal learning. I listen to multiple podcasts every day and I know that I am a more rounded and informed person because of it. Lots of people I know feel the same way, and maybe you do too. After all, more people are listening to podcasts now than ever before. So, are there podcasts for the students we teach? Can they too benefit from this expansive learning platform? Of course! Here are some podcasts that could be a great addition to your classroom learning library.
Podcasts for Elementary Students
- The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified – Buckle up, kids! This rocket ship’s headed for… adventure! Join our hero, Eleanor Amplified, the world-famous radio reporter, as she foils dastardly plots, outwits crafty villains, and goes after The Big Story. Listen in as Eleanor’s pursuit of truth takes her into orbit, out to sea, through a scary jungle, and even to the halls of Congress! Start with Episode 1 and get ready for a wild ride. From WHYY in Philadelphia. Keep up with Eleanor at http://eleanoramplified.com.
- Brains On! – Brains On is a science podcast for curious kids and adults from MPR News and KPCC. Co-hosted each week by kid scientists and reporters from public radio, we ask questions ranging from the science behind sneezing to how to translate the purr of cats, and go wherever the answers take us.
- Story Nory – Storynory brings you an audio story every week. Each one is beautifully read by Natasha and friends. Let Natasha’s voice beguile you with classic fairy tales, new children’s stories, poems, myths, adventures and romance.
- Short & Curly – SHORT & CURLY is a fast-paced fun-filled ethics podcast for kids and their parents, with questions and ideas to really get you thinking. It asks curly questions like about animals, technology, school, pop culture and the future. Thanks to our two fabulous hosts, there’s lots of time for silliness too. We are also helped out by resident ethicist Matt Beard, a brainstrust of school children and some special high-profile guests like sporting stars and famous musicians. SHORT & CURLY is especially designed to be listened to alone or as a family, with questions to think about and time to discuss it together.
- But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids – But Why is a show led by kids. They ask the questions and we find the answers. It’s a big interesting world out there. On But Why, we tackle topics large and small, about nature, words, even the end of the world. Know a kid with a question? Record it with a smartphone. Be sure to include your kid’s first name, age, and town and send the recording to firstname.lastname@example.org!
- Story Pirates Podcast – Story Pirates is a group of world-class actors, comedians, improvisers and musicians who adapt stories written by kids into sketch comedy and musical theater. Story Pirates Podcast features highlights from our weekly radio show on SiriusXM’s Kids Place Live. Visit www.storypirates.org for more information on Story Pirates and how you can bring our live show to your school or town!
- Tumble Science – Exploring stories of science discovery. Tumble is a science podcast for kids ages 8 – 12, created to be enjoyed by the entire family. Hosted & produced by Lindsay Patterson (science journalist) & Marshall Escamilla (teacher).
In a recent post, I looked at some of the best ways to record a podcast on an iPad. This time, I am going to switch platforms and look at the options you have for recording podcasts on a Windows computer. So, whether you have desktops, laptops or Surface tablets, this is the guide for you. It includes free and low cost options for teachers (or anyone else) who wants to record, edit and share podcasts from a Windows device.
Audio Recording Options for PC Users
If you use Windows 7 or Windows 8 you can take advantage of a free, built-in app called Sound Recorder. This comes pre-installed with these versions of Windows and is perfectly capable of recording good, clear audio. Windows 10 users have a very similar app called Voice Recorder that works in much the same way. You can also use free software like Audacity to record your podcasts, but more on that in a minute. The last thing you need to know for recording audio podcasts on a Windows PC is how to make sure external microphones are set as the default device. Why? Plugging in a USB microphone won’t always mean that device is selected when you want to record audio, so use this handy guide to switch input devices in the Control Panel.
Edit Podcast Audio for Free on Windows Computers
Editing is optional, depending on your needs, but sometimes it is nice to be able to add some royalty-free music to the beginning and/or end of your podcast, or to edit out some mistakes. Although you can do some very basic trims on the Sound Recorder or Voice Recorder apps, more serious edits are best left to a dedicated audio editor. Audacity is a free, open source recording and editing program that will do just that. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux computers and can be downloaded here.
If you have never used it before, the interface will take a little getting used to, but it is easy to learn from the myriad of YouTube tutorials that are dedicated to editing audio in Audacity. With Audacity you can trim, split and combine multiple audio tracks, as well as remove background noise, adjust volume levels, and more. It really isn’t as hard to use as it might look and it’s okay if you don’t need or use half of the features it offers.
If your school happens to have access to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, then Adobe Audition would be well worth a look for editing podcasts. It is not free, but if you already have the subscription, it won’t cost you anything to try it out. This is professional level software that is used by audio engineers in radio, film and television broadcasts, but like Audacity, it is easy to learn some basics on YouTube. Middle and High School students could pick this up pretty quickly and Mike Russell has a great playlist to get you started.
Uploading & Sharing Student Podcasts Online
There are a number of online audio hosting sites that you can use to share your student podcasts. However, the free accounts, as you might expect, often come with some restrictions. SoundCloud, for instance, gives you 3 hours of audio uploads for free. AudioBoom will let you upload as many files as you like, as long as none of them exceed 10 minutes in length.
A less conventional option might be to use tunestotube.com. This website lets you upload an MP3 file, attach an image, and then send the whole thing to YouTube as a video. It essentially creates a one picture slideshow with your podcast audio as the music track, but because it is on YouTube it is highly discoverable and easy to share.
Are You Podcasting With Windows Devices?
Do your students record and edit podcasts on Windows computers? If so, what do you use as part of your podcasting workflow? Feel free to leave a note in the comments below. You can also check out, and contribute to, my growing list of podcasts for K-12 students to listen to and learn from by following this link. Also, be sure to listen to the EdTech Take Out podcast that I co-host with Mindy Cairney by subscribing in iTunes or in a podcast player app of your choice.
If recent predictions are to be believed, the podcasting scene will explode in 2016. For me, that’s great to hear because I am a big fan of podcasts, but it is also great news for teachers who are looking for new ways for their students to communicate their ideas and reach a global audience. So, with that in mind, here are some of the best apps for podcasting on the iPad.
What is Podcasting?
Depending on who you ask, the definition of podcasting can vary. Some people think they are podcasting when they record audio, but to most who are familiar with podcasting, this leaves out one important aspect, namely the ability to reach that global audience. So, here’s a definition I like from the Oxford Dictionary.
The practice of using the Internet to make digital recordings of broadcasts available for downloading to a computer or mobile device.
Podcasts can be recorded in a video and/or audio format and are often distributed through RSS feeds or other subscribable services.
How Do You Podcast on the iPad?
As a truly multimedia device, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that you can record a very decent podcast on the iPad. For video podcasts you can use the iPad’s camera, but if you want to keep it simple, audio podcasts are a great place to start. The built-in microphone does a decent job with many apps, but a more professional sound can be achieved if you use the 30-pin or Lightning to USB Camera Adapter to plug in a USB microphone. You can also choose from a variety of external microphones to use with the iPad.
What are the Best iPad Apps for Podcasting?
There are many different apps that will let you record audio on the iPad, but some are more suited to podcasting than others. Here are a rundown of some of my favorite iPad podcasting apps for the classroom.
1. Opinion Podcasts
If you are looking for a great all-in-one solution, Opinion Podcasts is a great place to start. It lets you record, edit and publish podcasts for free. They give you a webpage to use as the home base for all your podcasts and even supply an RSS feed that you can use to submit your podcast to iTunes and other podcast directories. Opinion also shares to SoundCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, e-mail, and iMessage. You can also import audio for sound effects or intro music from your iTunes music library, Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive and others. Recordings are limited to ten minutes in the free version, but you can unlock unlimited recording with a $3.99 in-app purchase. Check out Room 108 Oklahoma City by Shelly Fryer (@sfryer) for a perfect example of how Opinion Podcasts could work in the classroom.
Another useful all-in-one option is AudioBoom (formerly AudioBoo). Like Opinion, you can record, edit and share 10 minute clips for free from the AudioBoom app. It is a little less flexible in that you can only send your audio clips to AudioBoom, and you cannot import any audio from other sources, but sometimes simplicity is better. Of note, this app is rated 12+ because AudioBoom also gives you the ability to search and listen to a variety of other podcasts. Not all may be suitable for young audiences, so that is something to be aware of. That said, AudioBoom can be a great host for a class podcast. Check out Fifth Grade Fever, a daily podcast created by the students of Scott Hagedorn (@
3. Voice Record Pro 7
Talking a side step away from the packaged solution is a free app called Voice Record Pro 7. This is an extremely versatile audio recording app that I first learned about from Wesley Fryer (@wfryer). You can import and export audio from Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and Box. You can also export to SoundCloud or an FTP server. One compelling feature is the ability to export the audio as a video file, with an image, and send it to YouTube. This would be a great way to add to a class YouTube or student YouTube account with minimal effort. It also gives you a huge audience to interact with your media, as well as the ability to embed it on school or classroom websites.
Do you listen to podcasts? A growing number of people do. According to a recent survey, 46 million Americans over the age of 12 have listened to a podcast in the last month. That’s 17% of the population, (aged 12 and over). Personally, I am not surprised. I love listening to podcasts. It is a great way to expand your knowledge of the world, grow your PLN, or just be entertained for a while. So, if you have never listened to a podcast before, keep reading and discover how you can get started today.
A podcast is like an internet radio (or TV) show. It is an episodic collection of audio (or video) files that you can subscribe to for free, and get new content delivered to to your device as soon as it is available. If you have ever subscribed to blogs in Feedly or Google Reader, it is much the same idea. In fact, they share a common technology – the RSS feed.
There are a number of different ways to access the podcasts that you are most interested in, but you will likely listen on either your computer or a mobile device. Here’s how to set up your podcasts on a computer or a mobile device.
How to Listen to Podcasts on a Computer
The largest library of podcasts is curated by Apple and can be found in iTunes. You can download iTunes for a Mac or a PC and use this software as a way to subscribe, listen and rate the shows that you want to hear. You can search for specific shows, or browse through the store by category, new and noteworthy, featured collections and more. When you find the podcast you want to listen to, you are only a few quick clicks away from subscribing.
The instructions for how to find and subscribe to podcasts are slightly different depending on whether you are using iTunes on a Mac or a PC, so here are a couple of links that include step-by-step instructions for each device.