Professor BJ Roche from the Journalism Department shares her thoughts on the benefits of having students podcast and shares tips for other instructors considering having students podcast:
In journalism, as in many other areas, it’s becoming increasingly important for students to understand that their presentation matters as much as the content. Most students are terrible speakers, they mumble and use “like” a lot. Podcasting requires them to think about how they sound, and it requires them to write for the ear as well as the eye. This is increasingly important in the digital age.
A podcasting assignment requires the development of several skills: the research and writing of a topic; the choice of tone and musical accompaniment; the delivery, which includes thinking about breathing, diction and cadence; and the technical aspects of editing and revising the voice track.
So it’s definitely worth doing. The technology now makes it easier than ever. We used Garageband to record, but you can also use easier, simpler programs, like Audacity, which is available as a free download, and is an excellent way to get started.
My first podcasting assignment was to write and produce a segment of “This I Believe,” the popular essay segment on National Public Radio, (www.thisibelieve.org).
Students had to read several esssays on the website, then come up with their own “belief” and write about it. Students recorded their essays on their own digital recorders, then brought them to class for our Garageband workshop. By the end of a two-hour session, we had finished products.
Tips for faculty:
Keep the focus on the writing! Make sure the writing has been revised, revised, revised, so it’s the best it can be.
Keep the assignment short–no more than 3-4 minutes, which is about 400-500 words. This I Believe is a good format, because they are short, wide-ranging in subject and emotion. My recent favorite: Penn Jillette’s This I Believe
Have students record their pieces ahead of time so they have “tape” to work with in class.
Grading is based on the quality of the writing, and the tone, i.e., does the delivery, music and sound effects add up to a cohesive feeling about the piece?
You can listen to some of the results here: scroll down to October 10.