Explanation of what podcasts are, examples of professional podcasts, and instructions on how to make your own podcasts.
Eventually, students will post their own podcasts to this page.

What the Heck is a Podcast?

"podcast n. a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar programme, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player."
--from the Oxford English Dictionary

For a more thorough (but technical) definition of a podcast, see wikipedia's entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcasting.
Or see what the Boston Globe says about podcasting here http://www.boston.com/business/bizcasts/help/.

Sample Podcasts

www.sciencefriday.com Science Friday is an awesome science series that plays every Friday afternoon on National Public Radio (NPR).
www.loe.org Living on Earth is an excellent radio/podcast series about nature that is often featured on public radio.
http://skytonight.com/observing/podcasts Tips for observing the night sky
http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx?c=ss&id=104 Astronomy Magazine
http://bobsprankle.com/bitbybit_wordpress/ Bob Sprankle's blog and podcasts about educational technologies (like blogs and podcasts!)

How to make your own podcast

Download "Audacity"
Download the program called "Audacity" by selecting the link below.
Right click, choose "Save Target As," then choose "Save." (You may need to choose "Save" a second time.) When the download is complete, choose "Run" and then "Run" again (or just select "Open"). The "Audacity Setup Wizard" should open. Choose "Next," "I Accept," "Next," and "Next." Make sure the box says "C:\Program Files\Audacity". If it does not, type it in, browse for it, or cut-and-paste it from this page. Then choose "Next," checkmark both boxes, choose "Next," and choose "Install." Wait a moment while it installs. Checkmark the box that says "Launch Audacity" and choose "Finish." Select your preferred language (probably English), then choose "OK." The Audacity program should now be open and ready to run.

Download "Lame"
Download the program called "Lame," which converts any sound recording to an MP3 file, by selecting the link below.
Right click, choose "Save Target As," then choose "Save." (You may need to choose "Save" a second time.) When the download is complete, choose "Close." You will never need to specifically open the Lame program. Instead, Audacity opens it itself whenever it needs it to convert an audio file to MP3. However, Lame must be saved or "extracted" to a location where Audacity can find it. When you download Lame, it is saved as a ZIP file. ZIP files need to be "unzipped." If you have a newer version of Windows, Lame it will probably unzip itself. With an older version of Windows, you may need to find and open a program called WinZip and use it to "extract" Lame to the "C:\Program Files\Audacity" folder. When Audacity attempts to use Lame, it will search for the file called "lame_enc.dll" so make sure that file is in the "C:\Program Files\Audacity" folder. If you need WinZip to unzip the Lame program, you can download it here http://www.winzip.com/downwz.htm. Enter your e-mail address then select "Try First." If you can't get Lame to work for some reason, don't worry about it; you can just save your work as an .AUP file and I can do the conversion for you. But give it a shot!

Check your settings
Before using Audacity, make sure your computer is set to use a microphone. Click the "Start" button, then choose "Control Panel." Choose "Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices." Select "Sounds and Audio Devices.". When a new window opens, select the "Volume" tab at the top of the window and make sure "Mute" is NOT checkmarked. To be sure, choose "Advanced," and when a little window pops up, raise all the volume levels, remove checkmarks from any boxes labeled "Mute," then close that little window. Then select the "Voice" tab at the top of the window, and when another little window pops up, go under "Voice recording" and select "Volume..." Raise the "Microphone" volume to the max, checkmark the box labeled "Select," and then close that little window. Then select "Apply" and "OK." Your computer should be ready to record. With an older computer, just choose "Control Panel," then "Sounds and Multimedia," then select the "Audio" tab at the top of the little window that opens, go under "Sound Recording," select "Volume," slide all the volume bars to the max (the top) and checkmark the box labeled "Select" under "Microphone." It's a good idea to do the same under "Sound Playback" as well; raise all the volume levels and remove checkmarks from any boxes labeled "Mute" so that you can hear your work.

Record your voice in Audacity
Go back to the Audacity program. Maximize the window. Find the microphone icon near the top of the window. Make sure the volume bar to the right of the microphone icon is moved to the maximum (all the way to the right). Find the speaker icon (to the right of the microphone icon) and move its volume bar to the maximum also. (Feel free to reduce the volume levels later as needed.) Plug a microphone into the microphone jack on your computer. (See me if you need to borrow a microphone. I have a very small computer microphone you can bring home.) Select the record button on the screen, which is marked with a red circle. You'll see a display on the screen of what's being recorded. The blue line should be relatively flat, as long as there's not much background noise. Start speaking into the microphone, and you should see the blue line bounce up and down as it records the sound waves of your voice. When you've finished recording, press the stop button, which is marked with a yellow square. Press play (green arrow) to hear your recording. If you can't hear anything, doublecheck the speaker settings and/or connections on your computer. Headphones make it easier to hear your recording clearly without background noises. If you press record again, you can record a second audio track, which will appear below the first.

Insert sound effects with Audacity
To insert music or other sound effects into your podcast, select "Project" then "Import Audio..." from the menu at the top of the Audacity window. Choose a sound file from your computer, highlight it, then select "Open" and it will be added to the window right beneath your voice track. You can move the sounds back and forth by selecting the horizontal arrow tool from the menu bar (it's between the magnifying glass and asterisk near the upper left of the Audacity window). Then grab the audio track (either your voice or your other sound effects) and slide them left or right until you find the right position. Press play to see how it sounds. If you want sounds as an introduction before your voice, you may want to select "Effect" and "Fade Out" so it fades out as your voice comes in. If you want sounds to conclude your podcast after your voice, you should select "Effect" and "Fade In" so it slowly gets louder as you finish your words. In order to use these effects, you must select the part of the sound track you wish to fade. Once it's selected and highlighted, you can then add the fade in or fade out effects.

Make sure sounds are "podsafe"
There is one catch to using music in your podcast--you must use "podsafe" music! Podsafe music is music that is legal for you to use in a podcast, which will be posted online for others to hear. You can't just grab a song from your favorite CD and use it for your intro or outro music, because the song is owned by the musician and/or their record company and only they have full rights to use it any way they wish. You can ask them permission to use their music, but it's very unlikely they'll grant it. The best ways to get around this issue are to make your own music (which could be a fun project!) or to search the Internet for music made by people who have already given permission for anyone to use their music in projects like podcasts. To make things easier for you, I've posted the links to a few sites that offer such "podsafe" music. However, when you get to those sites, confirm that the songs you download are really podsafe! If they are, download them and do what you want with them. Just be sure to cite the source and the creator of the music, either in your podcast, or on the web page you post your podcast. One thing to be careful of is that just because a song is available for a free download doesn't necessarily make it podsafe. Sometimes musicians will offer their music for "free" on special sites where they make money from the advertisements on the site. However, they will not be making money by having their song played in your podcast, so they wouldn't allow it. Pretty tricky, huh?

Save your recording
After doing a little bit of work on your podcast, you should begin saving frequently. Saving is easy. Select "File," then "Save Project," and type a very specific name for your podcast. In the box labeled "Save in," make sure you select the proper place to save your work. If you're at school, select the folder with your (or your partner's) name on it. If you're at home, you should probably save to a folder under "My Documents" that has your name on it. then choose "Save." You may need to choose "OK" once before saving to let Audacity know you're fine with saving .AUP ("Audacity Project") files. No worries.

Convert your recording to an .MP3 file
To convert your finished and saved recording to a podcast that can be played on any computer or MP3 player (like an iPod), select "File," then "Export As MP3..." You may need to choose "OK" once. In the box labeled "Save in," make sure you select the proper place to save your work. Then choose "Save." Audacity may ask you to help it find the file called "lame_enc.dll". If you saved and/or extracted it properly as explained above, this should be no problem. A small window will open in which you should type all the information about your podcast, like its author (you!), the year, comments, etc. As I said earlier, if you have trouble loading Lame and converting your recordings to MP3s, let me know. You can just save your work as an .AUP file and I'll help you convert it.
If you're having trouble getting the LAME program to work, try this. Open your .AUP file, then choose "File" and "Export As WAV...". This will save your work as a .WAV file. Then download a program to convert a WAV file to an MP3 file. Such a program can be found here http://www.mp3-converter.com/mp3_to_wave_converter_plus.htm. There are lots of others online, just Google "MP3 WAV converter". Try to use the free trial versions. Use the program to convert your WAV file to an MP3 file, which can be posted on the wikispace. If all else fails, just post the whole WAV file and I'll take it from there!

Post your podcast to the wikispace
Now that your podcast is complete, post it up on the class wikispace! For the Solar System podcasts, post them on the Solar System wiki (after the links to all your individual wikis). Go to the wiki you'll be posting the podcast on and select "Edit This Page". Then select the green tree icon from the editing menu (it says "Add Image" but can be used to add any type of file, including audio files). A little window titled "Images & Files" will open. A bit more than halfway down the window is a box labeld "Upload New File". Select "Browse..." to find your podcast file (it should be an MP3 file). Select your file, then select "Upload File". A little wheel will spin while the file uploads. Once it's done uploading, your file will appear on the list in the top half of the window. To place it on the wiki, use the cursor to drag the file to the exact spot you'd like it to appear. Or, you can move the cursor into the spot you want the file to appear, then double-click the file in the "Images & Files" window. That's it!

Podcast and "Podsafe" Music

http://www.flashkit.com/loops/ and http://www.flashkit.com/soundfx (My favorite--all free, all legal, all podsafe, school safe, but you sometimes need to ask the creator for permission)
http://www.podsafeaudio.com/genre.htm PodSafe Audio (All free, legal, and mostly podsafe, but not all school safe)
http://music.podshow.com/ Podsafe Music Network (All free, legal, and mostly podsafe, but registration is required, and not all school safe)
http://music.download.com/ (All free and legal, some of the independent music may be podsafe, but check first, not all school safe)
http://www.freelegalmusic.net/ (All free and legal, some of the independent music may be podsafe, but check first, not all school safe)
http://www.ezinearticles.com/?Podcast-Safe-Music&id=211996 About using music LEGALLY in podcasts!

Podcast Rubric

Follow the link below to see the podcast rubric for this class. I tried posting it directly on this wiki, but the formatting didn't work so well. Instead, just go to the .PDF file, which you can download and print if you'd like. This rubric was developed by the Escondido Unified School District, who adapted it "with thanks from Jeanne Halderson, School in the Coulee Podcast." Jeanne Halderson is a 7th Grade Teacher at Longfellow Middle School in La Crosse, WI, who is well-known for integrating technology into the classroom. © EUSD, 2005

"How-To" Podcast Resources


I received the following story about podcasting in an e-mail from WBUR, a public radio station produced by Boston University"

"Go Deeper into the Pod

Learn more about podcasting and the future of public radio

They are all over town—those little white ear buds. What could all those people be listening to? Rock? Jazz? Classical? Maybe Hip-hop? How about this morning’s broadcast of On Point?

PODCASTING IS A NEW, revolutionary way to experience public radio. The technology lets you download audio programs from the internet and play them on your computer or portable audio player. It also allows you to set up a free subscription for your favorite programs, which will be automatically downloaded to your computer.

How does it work?

It’s a misnomer that podcasting requires purchasing an iPod or other portable music device. In fact, all you need is a computer, an internet connection, and software to listen at home or at work. There are even some sites that will let you stream their podcasts right over the Web—without requiring you to install software at all.
If you already have a computer and connection established, then you’ll be able to store, share and listen to content on your computer anytime. Of course, you will need a portable device if you’d like to take the content with you, but getting started at home is an important first step to getting connected to the world of podcasting.

How is Podcasting different?

Downloading your favorite programs is just the beginning. Even though podcasting is still in its infancy (the term “podcasting” was only coined in 2004), it is already a rapidly growing medium for the distribution of content.
Currently, WBUR listeners download more than 100,000 podcasts every month. That figure stands to increase substantially in the next year as more people discover the benefit of taking their favorite public radio programs wherever they go.
“Podcasting really changes your life—the way you consume programming,” says Robin Lubbock, Director of New Media at WBUR. “You can start and stop programs at your convenience and rewind if you’ve missed a question. If your listening time is interrupted, you can press pause and pick up the show later in the day. It’s a great technology and relatively easy to learn and operate.”

What’s available for download?

There are currently four WBUR programs that are available on wbur.org for podcasting. They include WBUR’s News Update, On Point, Here and Now, and Only A Game.
Although NPR does not provide full-length downloads of their programs, they do offer more than 50 exclusive podcasts, including regular essays from Ted Koppel, satire from Brian Unger, sports commentary from Frank Deford, live music performances, and hourly news summaries. “The beauty of it all is that you never have to miss a moment,” says Lubbock. “A one-click subscription is all you need to download and listen to your favorite programs.”

Is it easy to use?

Getting started with podcasting is simple. If you can surf the net and use an MP3 player, you can download and listen to your favorite programs in just four steps:
Step 1: Download Podcasting Software
First, you’ll need software that can download and play podcasts, as well as transfer those files to your personal mp3 player. You may already have the software installed in your computer, but if you don’t, there are many programs available. Some popular programs for Windows and/or Mac include Odeo, Apple iTunes, and PodNova. These are all reliable, easy to install, and best of all, free.
Step 2: Subscribe to WBUR Podcasts
Once you have your software installed, open up your Web browser and log on to wbur.org's podcast page. Here you’ll find all of the program feeds that are available for subscription.Click on one of the subscription options, making sure that the option you chose corresponds to the software you’ve installed. In other words, if you’ve installed Apple iTunes, you’d click “iTunes one-click subscription.”
Once you’ve clicked the link, your podcasting software will launch and ask if you would like to subscribe to the podcast. Click “subscribe” to begin.
After you’ve subscribed to a program feed, you can customize your software to automatically download the latest edition of the podcast. That way, you’ll never miss your favorite show and you’ll always have something new to listen to. However, this option is not included in all audio software so be sure to check the manual.
Step 3: Using your newly downloaded content
Once you have downloaded a program, click on the file and hit play. You can pause, fast forward or rewind the program using the controls on your software. If there are particular programs you would like to hear often, you can create a playlist and save your favorite programs for easy access.
Step 4: Take Your Podcast Anywhere
Once you have subscribed to a podcast, you will be able to transfer your podcast files (usually mp3s) to your iPod or other audio device. Now you’re ready to take them all over town.

Listening on the go

That’s it! Follow these steps and pretty soon you’ll be listening to public radio on your time.
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