Forum Friday – Podcasting as easy as a Phone Call

Each Friday I like to pull a particularly popular or interesting post from the forum to share with others here on the blog. I know this particular week has been a slow one for me personally (Spring Break is going on), and the forum has died down a bit, but there’s a recent post about podcasting with a discussion that includes several valuable resources. There are hundreds of podcasting educators and students out there, and hundreds more that would love to do it, if they only had the technical know-how. One of the reasons I don’t podcast is due to the many steps it usually takes me to create a relatively polished broadcast. Thankfully, with a simple request and a lot of great help, we’ve discovered that there are plenty of resources out there for podcasting, including a way to make a podcast as simple as making a phone call.

AndyAK started the conversation off with a question about getting some of his teachers creating podcasts:

I’ve got a couple of teachers that are interest[ed] in having students do some readings, and then make them available as pod casts. I get the idea, but……..ok….I’ve never actually done it.

I’m thinking for students listening at school it would be easy enough to drop the audio files into iTunes and share them out. Our student machines all have iTunes.

If we want to also make stuff available to the world at large, it would mean putting them on a remote server, and I’m wondering if anyone has messed with this before. The district provides us with space on a server, but no administrative controls. Can we do it?

If anyone has specific advice, I would appreciate it, or if you have a URL to what you thought was a pretty good guide to a technically gifted idiot on how to do this.

Tom Wooward (aka BionicTeacher) chimed in with a rather technical solution:

think you’ve got a couple of options.

If you’ve got macs the easiest route is iWeb’s podcasting template.

If you just want to host it on your server with no blog etc. Apple has an example xml feed that isn’t too hard to update with a simple text editor. I have a filemaker db set up somewhere for generating the standard itunes feed if you’d like it.

You’ll just add to this and switch it out on the server each time you add a podcast. That won’t scale really well if you’ve got a bunch of them going at once but it’s fairly pleasant for small numbers.

You can also go the blog route and you’ve got a wide range of options depending on the blog etc.

For free hosts you might want to use odeo or something similar.

Let me know if this gets at what you want,


Using Odeo, as Tom suggests, makes a lot of sense, but as for creating and maintaining your own xml feed, that’s not something we’re all gifted enough to be able to do. Steve (aka falconphysics) then replied with a much less technical way to create a podcast:

You may also want to check out Gcast.

Gcast is a free podcast hosting site. They will host your file, create your feed and put it in iTunes for you. If you want, you can even remove your computer and simply podcast from a phone.

At which point I had to put my two cents in with a great collection of resources that I had learned about at the MACUL conference. Gary Stager’s Podcasting Resources has a host of links and resources for not only creating a podcast, but also finding a place to upload it to the Internet, create a feed for it, and a whole lot of other technical stuff. However, after reading falconphysic’s post, I released just how simple Gcast is, and Tom was able to use it to help a teacher that came to him the day of the posting. How’s that for turn-around time on a help-desk request?

Gcast isn’t the newest, and many have already written about it, but with it’s free hosting, free copyright free music for your podcast, and the ability to record by simply making a phone call makes it a powerfully easy tool for podcasting. The site will even take your recording, and automatically post it to the Internet wherever you want it to go (using a helpful little widget with a play/pause button and a link to download the podcast). Imagine being able to use that telephone in your classroom with students, instead of just making sure they aren’t calling home sick behind your back before the big test 🙂


  1. That fits in nicely with this article where Michigan may be giving every student an mp3 player. Sounds kind of crazy but at least they’d have something to listen to the podcasts on :). You heard anything about this?


  2. Thanks Larry, great sites to know about when it comes to easy podcasting. I’ll have to make sure and add them to the Fresh Links and/or possible do a blog post comparing the three services.

    That idea of purchasing every kid an iPod in the state is complete news to me, but I’m guessing this is some sort of stunt to help bring the public’s attention to our current budget crisis. The Republicans in the State Senate absolutely refuse to raise any taxes whatsoever, expect on gasoline (which is going to cost everyone a HUGE bundle), while the Democrats are trying to get a 2% service tax going. Meanwhile, the school budget looks like it may get cut before the year is even up (scary), so my guess is this is some sort of way for the Democrats to show they can be just as crazy as the Republicans.

    As for that editorial, man it was one giant flaming rant filled with nonsense and an obviously uninformed citizen that thinks shrinking revenue in one area of the state’s economy (manufacturing, industry) means we can’t expand taxes in areas where revenue is increasing (services, IT).

  3. I have to say thanks to all for getting me started. And ultimately I came across a couple of people in my own district that have been doing it for a bit. In addition to the general info, he had a lot about how teachers in our district can manage it all themselves (all teachers have an FTP space on the web server that can be linked to, as well as a “teacher page” that they can either create from scratch or use templates to create).

    I had in my mind podcasts, mp3’s, and RSS feeds all wrapped together. It’s really much more simple than I was thinking. For a look at what a high school teacher does, . It’s a teacher I don’t know….check the link for “Podcasting Class” to the right. Essentially they’re MP3’s created by students with links to them….piece of cake.

    So I’m playing with Audacity and loading it on the student machines…gathering headsets with microphones, and I think we’re off. I suspect this will be pushed by a few teachers, and then take off.

    And the support/feedback from this board was fast and on target…..many things.

    And…..I meant to add….we have an Apple X-Serve that has capacity…..the plan for “in-the-building” podcasts and other multimedia stuff is to make it an “iTunes” server….an easy place to drop the items we want to share. Students and staff have merely to open iTunes locally, and what we want is right there.

  4. I teach at a technology magnet school in Illinois where every student has their own MacBook. In my 8th grade language arts classroom every student creates at least four blogs per year for my independent reading program. Students read independently on a daily basis. They read at least two or more books per month. They choose one book per quarter to write a book review on, which they turn into a podcast. Out of my 105 students, I select a handful of exemplar models each quarter to post on my classroom website. My goal is to eventually have a nice collection of book reviews that students can use as a guide when they are trying to select a book to read. The students love doing the project and they are actually pretty good at it because they have been creating podcasts since 6th grade. I know this isn’t really the type of information you are looking for, but hopefully it will give you some inspiration as you are creating your podcasts.

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