Saturday, October 12, 2013

Web-Based Podcasting Tools

There are different options for creating podcasts, with Audacity being perhaps one of the most popular ones. But because the software looks a bit too complicated, I usually opt for web-based tools available for free.

There are many things an educator can use podcasts for. I mainly use podcasts for various speaking activities as the main aim and listening as the subsidiary aim. This allows my students to practise their speaking skills even more. They can tell stories, or continue each other's stories, etc.

In this blog post, I would like to share some of my favourite podcast tools with you.

AudioPal is the only tool that is interactive, i.e. if an AudioPal recording is embedded into a site, it starts playing automatically as soon as the site loads. So a greeting message or a site introduction message could be perfect. It also allows you to record your message by phone which is a nice option if your mic isn't working very well.

No registration is required and the tool is easy to use. It has record-by-phone, text-to-message, record or upload an MP3 options.

I think the screenshot is pretty self-explanatory.

Chirbit - this site has some nice options: apart from the usual click-to-record to create a podcast option or upload option, it also allows users to convert a Youtube video into a podcast (Chirbit, as it is called on the site) and you can also convert text to audio just like with AudioPal.

It actually takes a very short time to turn a yotube video into a podcast which then can be embedded into a blog or any other site. There is a commenting option, which can be used with students to discuss a Youtube-to-Chirbit talk. Chribits can also be transcribed something that my students enjoy doing. They say that this improves their listening skills and concentration.

Here is an example of a Youtube video turned into a Chirbit.

PodOmatic works more or less the same as the previous ones. With the free account you get 500MB of storage and 15GB of bandwidth a month. So not too bad.

There are many options for sharing the recordings: you can embed the podcast into a blog or a wiki, you can send it to someone's email address, you can share it on many social networking sites. The episodes can aslo be downloaded. So if you are worried about storage, you can just download the episode and then delete it from your podomatic page.

You can also follow other educators and use their recordings, with their permission of course.

Vocaroo - this one is probably the easiest to use. All you need is to go to the website and you are ready to record or upload an audio message.

As you can see, the tool is pretty easy to use. just Click to Record and start speaking.

After you have finished recording, you can listen to it and save or if you dislike it, you can re-record. Then all you need to do is to click save and then you get the options seen on the screenshot below.

You can share the recording, email it to the person it is intended for or simply download it.

The best thing about Vocaroo is that the recordings on the site are not searchable so we don't have to worry too much about privacy.

Voxopop - This tool is the same as the other ones but it is also different in that it is really good for group discussions. A teacher creates a talkgroup and invites students to take part. This could be a discussion of a burning issue or a piece of breaking news. Learners listen to what their teacher has to say, then in the same group they record their own opinions and listen to each other's ideas. Here again we have integrated skills practice: listening and speaking. If the students are required to read the news before they can take part, then they also improve their reading skills.

This is what a talkgroup looks like.

I myself use this tool a lot with my IELTS students. They record their replies and then I record my feedback in the same talkgroup. This makes it easier for each student to track their progress and not get lost in lots of different links.

There are only two drawbacks: 1. the talkgroups are not embeddable, and 2. you do not receive notifications about new posts; you have to log in every day to see if there is anything new or not. Even so, I really like Voxopop. 

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