A Beginner’s Tutorial on Podcasting for Teachers
By Matt McKeever
Goal #1: Preparing to Record
There are a number of ways to record a podcast. If you want a quality recording, it is worth investing in a quality USB microphone, such as a Blue Snowball Microphone (http://www.bluemic.com/snowball/). If you do not want to spend money, you may be able to use the microphone that is built into your computer. The quality of microphone is dependent on the brand of computer you have. Mac laptops seem to come equipped with decent microphones.
Goal #2: Recording & Exporting the Podcasts
You will need recording software in order to record and save your podcasts. Audacity (http://audacityteam.org/) is a free and easy-to-use audio editor that is perfect for podcasting. Once you have downloaded Audacity and your USB mic is plugged into the computer, open Audacity. Look for six round buttons in the top left corner of the screen. The one with the red dot is the Record button. Press that to start recording.
You should see a new track appear in the main window and blue waves should appear that show the volume level of what you are recording. Try clapping or speaking into your mic to make sure the computer is receiving the mic signal and picking up the sound. If it is, you’re hooked up correctly! Press the button with the yellow box to stop recording. If the waves do not appear and you only see a blue line, press the button with the yellow box to stop recording, then click on View à Toolbars à Device Toolbar. Here you can change where the mic signal is coming from. Make sure to choose the mic you have plugged into your computer.
Once your mic is working correctly, delete your “test” recording by pressing the “x” in the top left corner of that track. You are now set up to record your podcast! When you are ready, press Record and start talking. When finished, press the button with the yellow box to stop recording. To save your podcast, press File à Export. In the “Save as Type” or “Format” box, make sure it is set on “MP3 Files”. Choose the location you wish to save the podcast in, and press Save.
Goal #3: Editing and Adding Audio Files to Your Podcast Recording
While there is a lot you can do to edit an audio file in Audacity, the most basic tools you will need are Cut, Amplify, and Add Silence.
Cut allows you to select a portion of the audio file and delete it. This is especially helpful for editing out long pauses or sections you don’t wish to publish. To do this, select a portion of audio by dragging over the blue sound waves, followed by a press of the scissors button in the upper middle portion of the screen. This will delete the section and merge the sections before and after the deleted section together.
Amplify allows you to raise or lower the volume for all or a portion of an audio file. This is helpful if the recording is too soft or too loud. You can select a portion of audio (like you did with the Cut tool) or select the whole audio file by clicking the grey box to the left of the audio file. Once your desired audio is selected, press Effects à Amplify. You will be prompted to choose the amount you want to amplify by. If you type in a negative number, the volume will decrease.
Add Silence is the opposite of Cut; it allows you to add space to a track. This allows you to add in something else, such as another audio file (see below). To do this, choose the spot in audio track you want to add silence. Select it, then press Generate à Silence. You will be prompted to choose the length of time you want the silence to last.
You may wish to add another audio file to an existing audio file, such as a voiceover or a theme song. To import an existing audio file from your computer, press File à Import à Audio. Choose a file from your computer and hit “Open”. This file will appear as another audio track below your existing audio track. Use the Cut and Add Silence tools to put the new audio file exactly where you want it.
Goal #4: Register & Upload Podcasts on Podomatic.com
In order to make your podcast available to listen to and download from podcast directories (such as iTunes), you need to host your podcast on a podcast hosting site. Pod-o-Matic (www.podomatic.com) is an easy to use site that allows you to register and post your podcast in just a few minutes. Go to www.podomatic.com and Press “Sign Up”. Go through the registration steps until you reach a page that has the words “Create a Podcast” on the top left. Press that button, and you will be directed to a page that will ask you to upload a file. At this point, you will need to locate the .mp3 file you saved in Audacity and upload it. You will also be asked to provide a title and description for your podcast, among other things.
Once you have all of the details entered for your first podcast episode, you can publish it. This podcast is now available for download at Pod-o-Matic and on iTunes. To add more episodes, you simply need to follow the same steps above.
Goal #5: Create a WordPress Site
While posting your podcast on Pod-o-Matic and iTunes is a good first step, it is advisable to have your own website to send people to in order to listen to your podcast, learn more about it, and find details and supplemental information. WordPress (www.wordpress.com) is the most popular and easiest tool for creating a simple website to post your podcasts on. To create a WordPress site, visit wordpress.com and press the “Create Website” button. Choose a Site Address and enter an Email Address, Username, and Password. On the “Choose a Theme” page, choose the theme you want. On the “Which plan would you like to use?” page, choose the “Free” option.
After verifying your email address, your website will be created and you will be sent to the “Reader” page. Here, you can make your first blog post, which will contain your podcast.
Goal #6: Post Podcasts on WordPress Site
The final step of this process is to post your podcasts on your WordPress site. The first step is to find and copy a direct link to your podcast from Pod-o-Matic. Go to http://www.podomatic.com/podcast and log into your account. At the bottom of this page, there should be a list of all the podcasts you have posted on Pod-o-Matic thus far. Find the podcast episode you want to put on WordPress, and press the “View” button below that episode to open up the Player page on Pod-o-Matic. On the top of the Player page, directly below the equalizer (the moving audio bars), you will see a small icon of a cloud with an arrow pointing down. Right click on this icon and choose “Copy link address”. This link is the direct link we need for WordPress.
Once you have that link copied, return to the “Reader” page on WordPress and press the “My Site” button. In the top right corner of this page, you will see a white box with a pencil in it. This is the “New Post” button. Press it to create a new blog post. Enter a title for your blog post in the title box, ideally, the title of your podcast episode and the episode number. Below the title box is the main content box. In the content box, right click and paste the direct link from Pod-o-Matic. Make sure that link ends with .mp3. This is all you need to do, as WordPress will automatically create an audio player so that visitors to your WordPress site can play the podcast directly from the site.
When you are finished with your first blog post, press the “Preview” button below the main content box on the left side. This will open a new window with a preview of what your new blog post will look like on your site. If the preview looks good, close the preview window and press the “Publish” button below the main content box on the right side. A dialog box will appear that says “You just published a post!” This means that your blog post is now visible on your blog site when someone visits it. Press the “View Post” button to see the post on your blog site.