Podcasting So Accessible, Even a ‘Technophobe’ Can Do It—and Teach It
Connie Carter’s latest Maine-based Operation Breaking Stereotypes project was coming to an end. Over the past four years, 15 students at the small, mostly white Maranacook Community High School had paired up with 15 kids from the large, racially diverse Lewiston High. Together they shared their stories, found common ground and saw their preconceived notions about each other shattered.
Some of them looked at me as if I had eight heads and said, ‘What are you talking about? We do videos.'
Carter, the founder and executive director of OBS, wondered how this group could capture and record all they had experienced. A fan of podcasts such as How I Built This and FiveThirtyEight, she ran the idea of creating their own podcast past the kids. “Some of them looked at me as if I had eight heads and said, ‘What are you talking about? We do videos,’” she recalls.
Thanks to an assist from a teacher’s wife who works for Soundtrap, a comprehensive, cloud-based digital audio workstation, those kids now happily produce podcasts, too. Carter spoke with EdSurge about how her podcast project came together, the ease of using the Soundtrap platform, and some of the ways educators can use podcasting to differentiate instruction and help meet core curriculum requirements.
EdSurge: How did podcasting help break stereotypes in your recent OBS project?
Connie Carter: The Lewiston students are a diverse group. There are a number of Somali immigrants and other ethnicities and races. The Maranacook kids are, for the most part, white. A student from Maranacook and a student from Lewiston were partnered. They shadowed each other in their schools. They stayed with each others’ families. Even though partners might have shared individual stories, they hadn't necessarily shared them with the whole group. We did all the podcasts as a whole group, so it was a really powerful way for them to share their stories.Connie Carter's students, Operation Breaking Stereotypes. Image credit: Soundtrap.
They really had to think about, 'What do I want to say, and how do I want to say it?' That’s a skill we all probably could use!
What are the advantages of podcasting over video as a storytelling medium?
With podcasting, obviously, you have to listen. We take in a lot of our information visually. That's kind of our primary sense. If you take that away, you have to substitute something else. I think to actually sit and listen to somebody's story, without the visual piece, allows you to really listen and hear it.
Is Soundtrap easy to use?
Oh, incredibly easy. I’m a bit of a technophobe, so—unlike the kids—I approached it with fear and trepidation. But even for me, it was easy. I really enjoyed doing the editing because it was so accessible and so easy to figure out. It was really easy to follow the menus and learn how to stop something, bracket some words, and then just press delete—and it was gone. I even got to where I could edit out stutters!
Heading to ISTE? Stop by Booth 2153 to learn more about Soundtrap's cloud-based audio recording platform.
How can podcasting help teachers differentiate instruction and teach creativity, critical thinking and communication skills?
The kids who are really comfortable verbally can take it and run with it. Kids who are a little bit more hesitant or have a few more struggles with learning can go back and redo it, and redo it again.Connie Carter
It’s creative because students get to decide how they want to present their topic. They can present it as a conversation; they can do it as a rap. But they also have to be critical thinkers. If they're going to discuss something that's going to be out there for the world to hear, they have to think, ‘What are the pros and cons of this topic? What type of research do I need to do to be able to talk about this intelligently?’
I think it's a great way for kids to own the product. Our students had to learn to be articulate and to shape their thoughts in ways that were more powerful than just babbling away. They really had to think about, "What do I want to say, and how do I want to say it?" That’s a skill we all probably could use!
Inspiration from Connie CarterLearn how Carter's students bridged racial and economic divides in their communitiesPodcast: The New Maine--Facing Race and DifferencePortland Press Herald profileWMTW news segmentCarter’s recommended resources for educatorsDo schools kill creativity?—TED Talk by Sir Ken RobinsonBring on the learning revolution!—TED Talk by Sir Ken RobinsonLet’s use video to reinvent education—TED Talk by Sal KhanWe need to talk about an injustice—TED Talk by Bryan Stevenson
The puzzle of motivation—TED Talk by Dan PinkFacing History and OurselvesAmericans Who Tell the Truth
Rethinking SchoolsCommon Sense MediaAssociation of Computer Technology Educators of Maine