Podcast team contributors: Rich, Patrick, Brook, Mara, Ajay, Nick, Abrienda, and Evan.
Teacher supports: Jackson Shermer, Bob Taylor
Humble beginnings: Radio Show or Podcast Broadcasting?
Our podcast started out somewhat differently to what it has become. Originally, we wanted to start a school-wide internet radio station.
However, upon further research on starting a radio station we found that licensing with the federal FCC, and cost of equipment made this option unrealistic. After talking it over with our dedicated small group, the idea of Podcasting became our next option, but we didn’t know much about it with the exception of one student.
Starting the road to creating a podcast at KSSB?
It initially started from an informal discussion during our weekly tech club. Building on the experience of one student, the team started to pursue answers to the following questions: What equipment we would need; a podcast site; and how to select guests.
The fall of 2019 was a good start with administrative support, and funds were set aside for the equipment. After more discussions between team members, and testing podcasting sites, we selected “Simplecast” as our podcasting site. The site met our primary concerns about the site accessibility for the team members now and in the future.
During the fall and early spring of 2019, the team continued to meet and prepare for our first podcast broadcast which now looked like late March after our spring break. Excitement was building, and we started to think about our format and topics such as: student discussions on technology (tech talk), an open forum for students to talk about hobbies, and inviting guests to ask questions of interest to students and adults.
Starting the podcast and the unexpected?
During the months before spring break, the team’s teacher shared with the group about equipment coming in or what needed to be ordered yet.
We were primed and ready for the first broadcasts after spring break.
How exciting, right? Then, the pandemic hit, and we were all at home, with very little equipment at our disposal with the exception of our laptops or tablets (iPads).
When school resumed after the spring break, KSSB contacted the students about the plans for continue school remotely using Zoom. After team members started using zoom with follow-up emails between team members it was decided to use the zoom video conferencing platform for our podcast broadcasts since it also include the recording feature. We solved a big stumbling block on how to get started, and even had the place to upload the broadcast records to with the Simplecast site. The team now had renewed confidence despite the fact that the equipment we ordered was back at KSSB. Frown.
The remote classes were in the mornings, and early afternoons, so we settled on 2:30 pm for our meetings and broadcasting sessions. We decided to focus on inviting guests and ask them questions. Ideas for the guests came from the team, other students and staff. Since we didn’t really understand how a podcast session worked, we scheduled two professional podcasters for the first two sessions.
Lessons learned from the first two podcast broadcasts?
We realized after the first two broadcasts that recording then editing each session was not how it was done by most professional podcasters.
Editing was only done rarely to delete “dead air time”, “blurbs”, etc.
Although the professionals did suggest using an audio editor when including music in our podcasts, which helped justify the purchase of the Apple “logic” application.
Another lesson we pickup up was to ask really good questions to our guests that can only come from researching their backgrounds. The professionals mentioned that the role of the podcast host should be to help the guests discover topics they are passionate about; and only ask more questions to shape the discussion with more or varied details.
Big surprise was the number of Podcasts and attention it got
Before the end of the last nine weeks of school before summer school, we completed Eight podcasts. Team members averaged one a week. Guests varied from a para olympic star such as Tyler Merren to the co-producer and TV consultant Joe Strechey. Local and national educators were also included such as John Panarese, the founder of Mac Accessibility; and Robert Beach, accessibility support person at a local college.
To fill in the blanks, the team produced two very popular topics on Assistive technology history from the student's viewpoint and Distance Learning Reflections From the Students' Point Of View which drew emails from adults and students across the state after the broadcasts.
As summer approached, the team decided to take a break until school started again. Word spread about the podcasts during the first few days of summer school, again it was remote. Before the new broadcast, we had two additional team members from districts across the state.
With the busy summer school session only two additional broadcasts were done, although the topics were interesting to professionals. The first session in early June talked about TEALS, and how they partnered with KSSB to teach the JAVA coding language to our students. The second session introduced the “Way Finding” technology on the KSSB campus which included tactual maps of the campus and locator beacons to help visitors and students with navigation with their phones or tablets.
At the close of summer school, team members discovered that many staff and students were listening, and they offered suggestions for people to be on the podcast. When school resumed in the fall, the podcast schedule was starting to fill up. Our big challenge was fitting the broadcasts into the school’s new schedule that was now live and filled with activities.
Making the transition back to “live” classes, and producing a podcast broadcasts?
Some team members remained remote for the first nine weeks while others were busy with some classes off campus. With the popularity of the podcast broadcasts, the new schedule did provide a time for a new class on podcasting, called, “introduction to podcasting” to encourage new students; and a scheduled time for broadcasting for the experienced or original team members. The problem like any new schedule was class conflicts, and other time commitments such as students starting school off campus then arriving later at KSSB or classes that had the students enrolled in two classes at the same time. In time, we got two time slots worked out for us: One for the new introduction to podcasting class, and another for the broadcasting team.
Each of the groups now had specific roles. The introduction to podcasting class would research the guests and help develop the questions for the guests while the broadcasting team would review the questions and concentrate on the production of the podcast session.
During one introduction to podcasting class, all the students got together to share their perceptions of the podcast experience. All emailed their responses via email.
Listen to Episode 4: Distance Learning Reflections from the Students' Point of View (April 22, 2020)
Perceptions of the podcast experience
I first heard about the podcasting class from a friend who was attending. I listened to a few of the episodes, and I really liked them, so I decided to join the class. I mostly work in the Intro to Podcasting sessions, where I, and a few other students, come up with questions for the hosts to ask the guests, as well as inviting guests to come on the podcast. We also listen in on the recording sessions so we can learn how to interview people. The goal of Intro to Podcasting is to prepare the students to eventually be a host on the podcast.
I really enjoy the class because I get to talk with other students and learn things I will need in life. It's very important to have good social skills when you get a job, and this class helps a lot with that. Plus, working on a podcast looks really good on your résumé.
I just wanted to get my voice out there in the world. I always had an interest in doing something related to technology, Thus the idea of a radio station was born which lead to the podcast experience.
I had already listened to podcasts and wanted to contribute but this gave me a chance to get one up and running from scratch. I felt like I was publishing something that everyone would like to hear.
Listen to the Discover Podcasting interviews here!