My Class Podcast Station Challenge:Starting Point

This weekend I decided to take up the challenge of setting up a customisable class Podcast station for my students.

Over the past year we have been using Podomatic, a fantastic free host that has proven really useful, alongside my preferred classroom Podcast Authoring tool, podium, in helping me understand how the technical side of process works (ish!).

As a learner however I have decided it is time to try something new, to move beyond the adoption phase and take a few risks, as I move into the adapt and innovate phase of using this technology. So in this series of posts I want to share the first steps I am taking in "mashing" together some free online tools, with some not so free or readily available ones to set up this new and customisable podcast space .

Podomatic As a Starting Point

Podomatic is an online Podcast "publishing" solution. It offers for the absolute beginner three key ingredients required to set up and run a podcast station, and all in one place. They offer two solutions
  • Basic (a free service)
  • and Pro (their fee paying service).

Both solutions provide
  • Easy upload and storage space for your audio or video files
  • A home page to host and display details around your podcast and it's episodes
  • An RSS feed to allow regular listeners or viewers to subscribe to, be updated about and download your show to a podcatcher (eg iTunes) without the need to continually visit your podcast site.
Additionally the service enables online file conversion, this has proven particularly useful on the odd occasion we have wanted to upload video podcasts. Submitting files from Movie Maker for example, the site converts these to pod friendly video formats behind the scenes with the minimum of user experience and no input beyond hitting the publish button required. The site also has a basic online recording tool, allowing audio podcasts to be recorded through the site. Once you have set up your account, using the Podomatic Site to publish a Podcast or Podcast Episode is really straight forward.
  • Log in to your account,
  • navigate to your My Podcast Space
  • Upload your audio or video file
  • Create a post and show notes
  • Attach the audio file from your uploaded media or PC to this page
  • and press the publish button.
The process of publishing a Podcast to Podomatic is very similar to creating a blog post, and if you are looking for a starting point to explore the possibilities of Podcasting in class this is certainly a great place to begin.

Publishing the file to your would be audience is however the final step in the process, and even though sites such as this offer online recording tools, if you want to be a bit professional and add music or refine and edit recordings before publishing you will need local tools on your computer to help prepare and edit your audio files before publication. As I have mentioned in a number of posts and above Podium by Softease is my prefered classroom tool for this, though a number of other tools such as the open source platform Audacity, and Garageband on the Mac have been written about by other colleagues as tools they use to enable this.

Moving On The Context For The challenge

I originally set up a Basic Podomatic Account. This provides 500mb of online storage space for your audio and video files but also a bandwidth limitation for downloads. This has been more than sufficient for the work we have done this year, but I want the students to begin using video and audio podcasts more regularly as part of their classroom work this session, and enable them to help customise the page that hosts links to their content and feed, this either meant finding or developing a local solution or looking at a subscription serviece or combining tools available to support this and so the crux of this personal challenge, and the subject of the upcoming series of posts.

Using the solution I have decided upon, I have already set up the space, and as a taster it can be found here. Over the next couple of posts I want to share with you the tools I have used to do this, and the process involved. Hopefully you will revisit and follow my quest.

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