Whether it’s Serial, Story Corps or Mindshift,it is always encouraging to read about educators using podcasts in their classroom to promote student learning. In the Atlantic article, The Value of Using Podcasts in Class, teacher Michael Godsey shares his experience with using podcasts as primary texts for student assignments. Listening to audio, along with reading transcripts simultaneously, has been a powerful way for students to improve listening comprehension skills and develop a more thorough understanding of challenging concepts.
But why simply stop at only having listen to podcasts, when they could easily create them? If you have iPads or Macs, the process of creating a podcast was simple with Garageband. It’s an extremely powerful tool that is extremely intuitive and user-friendly. How user-friendly? I once taught a class of 6 year-olds how to record their own podcasts – no lie, check out the video!
Outside of Garageband, (and maybe Audacity to a far lesser extent) there really hasn’t been a great software tool available for all platforms, that has made the process of podcasting with students easy or accessible.
That’s where Soundtrap comes in. Soundtrap is an online music studio that provides users with a powerful cloud-based platform to record their own audio. While the primary function of Soundtrap is to serve as an online studio for mixing and recording music, fortunately for those without any musical ability (like myself), it also provides teachers and students a user-friendly platform to produce podcasts.
Soundtrap is free and will work on ALL devices – whether you have an iPad, Chromebook, Windows PC, or mobile phone. If your district has G Suite For Education or Office 365, students can use their school credentials to register for an account. Soundtrap is completely web-based which brings several powerful advantages for students. All projects are saved to the cloud, which allows for 24-7 access from any device. That means that students could work on a podcast in school on a desktop PC, and finish that same project from home on their iPad.
The Soundtrap interface looks very similar to Garageband with locations for multiple audio tracks that you can manipulate by selecting, a movable playhead, and keyboard shortcuts for editing. To record the audio for your podcast, it’s as easy as clicking “Add Instrument,” and selecting your microphone. If you have a pre-existing audio file that you want to add, like background music, you can simply drag the track into Soundtrap.
Once you’re finished, Soundtrap allows you to download an MP3 of your creation. This file could be uploaded to learning management systems where students can listen to each other’s podcasts, or to numerous website which provide an RSS feed for others around the world to subscribe. There’s also an option, where you can make your recording public and get a link to share with – similar to Soundcloud. This could be a public link or a “secret link” which is good for 7 days. On the site that Soundtrap automatically generates for each podcast, there is also is an option for listeners to leave feedback as well.
In the same way that students can share documents in Google Docs, Soundtrap provides a powerful option for students to share their project with collaborators. This would allow a number of different Soundtrap users, in remote locations, to work on recording the same podcast track. You can also video conference in Soundtrap, ideal for participating a live recording.
The basic version Soundtrap is free but there are also several different pricing tiers, including Soundtap EDU which offers some great features for a higher volume of users. My experience is limited to the Basic plan, which I have found to meet to be perfect for teachers interested in experimenting with creating podcasts. One limiting factor with the free account is that Soundtrap will only allow users to create 6 concurrent projects at one time. However, after you finish projects you can easily download the MP3 and then delete an older projects to save some space.
What are some ways that you can use student-created podcasts in your classroom? Take a moment to check out the following articles below: