Online Tutoring: The Power of Podcasting

By Angela Bunyi on December 21, 2009

When is the last time you got really excited about helping your students study and learn material they didn't learn in class the first time around? Working with gifted and high achieving students, it is especially hard to stop and slow down when material is already far above grade level and/or the pace is rigorous. However, I have an easy solution that will make you, your students, and your parents happy. Welcome to PC/Mac friendly podcast tutorials that can be created, saved, and posted on your child's iPod tonight.


Podcasting . . . It's Not Just a Mac Thing

PC user? Mac user? It doesn't matter. You can create a podcast today. The benefits include:

  • offering students extra support
  • allowing students to stop and rewind challenging parts of your lesson 
  • supporting parents by allowing them to see and hear how you approach a subject area . . . some students want to do it "your" way, not mom's
  • you can create a podcast by simply recording and talking about one onscreen image, so it is time efficient
  • podcasts can be uploaded to iTunes/Web sites easily
  • students can watch and listen to you on their iPod
  • podcasts can be subscribed to via an RSS feed
  • podcasts can really help before state testing

If you have access to PowerPoint and a microphone, you can create something like this in less than 30 minutes (start to finish).


So, are you interested in trying this out? Here are the exact steps I took to make the video above.

1. If you are a PC user, you can download the free program, CamStudio, which allows you to capture everything on your screen. This includes audio. Mac users have a free program, Podcast Capture, already built in.

2. If you don't have a microphone built into your laptop, a microphone or headset will work. I was amazed to find that headsets can also serve as microphones for recording purposes if spoken into. Both my PC and Mac laptops have built-in microphones.

3. For the above video, I opened up PowerPoint and created a slideshow. You can opt to open up any images or pages that you would like to discuss during your podcast recording.

4. My laptop already has Interwrite installed, so I opened up this program to make everything more interactive. If you are not familiar with this program, it is a free alternative to a SMART board. It allows you to write on, save, and make changes to Web pages and blank pages provided by the program. I am fortunate enough to have an Interwrite pad that allows me to write on the screen remotely. The pad costs about $300.

Picture 3

Photo: Utilizing Interwrite, you can write on any document, including pages from the Internet.

5. If you don't want to download Interwrite, you can simply finish your PowerPoint and hit the record button from CamStudio or Podcast Capture. Some options are available to you before recording; for example, I opted for a focused box that didn't move, but you can have the screen follow your mouse as it records. The movement of your mouse, the opening of files, and your voice will be recorded once you begin.

If you use Interwrite, the resources available on the toolbar (eraser, markers, pens, photos, etc.) will not be visible after recording is finished. This means you can change pen colors and switch functions with ease.

6. When you stop recording, your video will be ready to view. You can choose to save it as a .wmv (Windows Media video) file, MP3, or MP4. If you would like to send it to iTunes, you will want to save it as an MP4. If you are a Mac user, one click sends it to iTunes, and another click sends it to your iWeb for posting.

And just to show you how incredibly easy it can be . . .

Here is a podcast I made discussing and writing about one image. It required very little preparation time.

Explaining Latitude and Longitude Podcast
(Look for the original link on my class Web page for a higher quality video.)

So Many Podcasting Options . . .

Finally, it might help to investigate some of these other resources for recording your very own podcast tutorial video. This could include a Web camera (usually has audio built in), a Flip Video/Camcorder, or simply recording your voice with a free program like Audacity (PC) or GarageBand (Mac). What would work for your class?

And do you have any tips you would like to add on podcasting? Any Mac or PC questions? I am a hybrid user, so I am comfortable answering questions about both platforms.

View my original podcast (without the Scholastic player).

Happy Holidays! Beth and I will be taking a break from the blog until next year. We look forward to posting again in 2010!

Angela

Comments

I'm trying to catch up with the conversation, but one science based video/music for students-/middle school/ is my all time favorite "ODE TO THE BRAIN" by Symphonyofscience.com. Can also be easily found on YOUTUBE as well. Great songs, remixes, lyrics on various interesting science based topics can be found on www.symphonyofscience.com.

Hello Gillian,

Good questions...I just presented on this topic yesterday (workshop at a college) and received this same set of questions. Here are some of the things we discussed to help test this question:

If you place your podcasts on your website, you can include a counter to see what your traffic numbers are. I have an invisible counter for my site, and iTunes can give you this information as well.

In my case, we have a high population of Internet users. So much, in fact, that teachers are comfortable giving homework online, and all of our 4-6 students have their own personal laptop that they use and take home.

But to answer your question, yes, I have seen a difference. It also helps me feel like I am doing my part with helping parents at home. I do have kids that are eager to come up and share their time spent on watching podcasts made, and a show of hands indicate a large audience watching.

Good luck with your podcasting plans! Contact me if you have any questions...

Angela

Hi Angela,

All I can say is WOW! I love this idea of using the beloved iTunes and iPod to your advantage. I do have two questions for you. Have you had good feedback from your parents and students? Are you able to see a difference these podcasts are making in your students academic success? Thanks for sharing all these wonderful ideas!

Have a wonderful day!

Gillian

Hey Lauren,

Thanks. What a small world, right? I bet you are doing a great job as a first year teacher. I will tell you, the teaching field is much more demanding now than when I started out. The pressure is really high and expectations and demands can be overwhelming. I am sure you are doing amazing things already. :)

Best,

Angela

Angela, Thanks so much for the info. I live in Murfreesboro and I teach in another county. I have actually observed you as a student teacher and think you are doing great things. I hope I can build up as many great techniques as you do!

Lauren

Hello Lauren,

Here are my three recommendations:

Mr. Duey- www.mrduey.com He focuses on math and science. He has a song on cell parts and functions that is worth a million in my books. Genre- Rap/R&B Background- 7th grade teacher with a music background

Songs of Higher Learning- www.songsofhigherlearning.com R&B background, TONS of songs under all the topic areas.

Rockin' the Standards- Although they only have math songs, I believe they are producing a new album shortly. They are really talented...4th grade teachers in CA. The place value song is my absolute favorite. My son is in first grade and their class knows their place value up to the hundred billions. No problem. www.rockinthestandards.com Genre- "rock"

I hope that helps!

Angela

Angela, I saw you talking about good cds for teaching content, and I cannot find where it is. Whose cd do you recommend for teaching Science?

Thanks, Lauren Buckley

Thanks for sharing the resource. Singapore Math is gathering a lot of talk right now.

~Angela

I am going to bookmark this page. It is a fantsatic idea to produce videos, i believe this is the 10X factor as a teaching tool. My fist inspiration is from khan academy, amazing output from one person. LionMath is focussed on Singapore Math resources ... drop by if you can. I like Scholastic products by the way.

Hello Andra,

Great!!! And of course you are not being a pain. I usually have to teach myself things from scratch and wish I could ask questions too. I am more than happy to answer any other questions you may have.

By the way, from what I have gathered, it is best to record it on a medium to smaller sized setting if you want your class to watch it on iPods.

Smiles,

Angela

Never mind! I think I figured it out! Thanks!

Hi again! I hope I am not being a pain! I have two questions for you now. I have the IShowU app now (thanks for the tip!). Is there a particular "preset" that you think works best? I plan to use my interwrite board screen, similar to your math demo. Also, how do you then broadcast it? Do you just save it and then link it to your web page or do you automatically do it through itunes? Again, I appreciate your help! I'll play more and figure it out tomorrow! -Andra

Angela, Thanks for your quick response! I will give that a try! -Andra

Hey Andra,

My Mac doesn't have Podcast Capture on it either, but I believe the server information would be your account info. for iWeb as it can be uploaded to your web-page.

But if you are using Garage Band's option for a podcast, it is more like recording with a web camera. If I am reading your question correctly, you want to record what is on your screen while you are moving through the powerpoint and talking, right? If so, there are two options for you: 1. Turn it into a slideshow (under the Podcast option) and narrate as needed. When you play the slide show you should see your recorded audio track directly underneath the slides.

2. Purchase iShowU for 20.00. It is VERY, VERY easy to use. It is what I used for the videos shown above and took all of 5 minutes to make.

I hope that helps! How cool is that to be creating math tuturial podcasts for second graders!!!

Best,

Angela

Hi Angela! I love this idea and have been working on podcasting a math tutorial for my second graders. I have a Mac at home, a Mac at my mom's, and a PC at school. My mom's Mac has the Podcast Capture program, but I am having trouble getting it going because it says I need to have a server? I'm not sure what to put in there. With that said, I have tried to use Garage Band instead. I'm as far as being able to record on Garage Band while I am demonstrating on Powerpoint and using my Interwrite Program. My question is how do you put them all together so that when you listen to your recording, it also shows your interactive Powerpoint? I'm almost there! Thanks for your great idea! Very inspiring! -Andra

Hey Victoria,

Wow, that sounds great. I don't have iPods for my class, but I do use one every day for music. :) It would be a great grant idea though!

I hope your 2010 is turning out fantastic!!!

Angela

Alisha,

I created my podcasts under Mac and with iShowU, so that was not a problem for me. It will take one extra step for you if you are a PC user. If you Google: Convert avi to Mp4 several free devices/sites will allow you to do this (I prefer the download.cnet links). Simply save your file and then convert it.

Let me know if that works for you, and I'd love to see your finished product!

Angela

Angela, I have a Mobi at school... I really need to learn how to use it. Perhaps with your ideas about podcasting, I can put it to really good use starting next week. I also synced classroom iPods recently.

I was curious; do you have iPods in your classroom? I was curious what you sync if you have them for your students.

Victoria

Hi Angela, I've been really struggling with Cam Studio. How do I save my video as a mp4? The only options it give me is avi and swf.

Alisha

Hello Alisha,

That's great to hear. It also reminds me that I need to create some more podcasts for my class. :)

Best,

Angela

I absolutely love this idea. I will be trying it very soon!!

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