A few years ago, I created and ran a short range radio station at my middle school. In the most basic of senses, it was just a series of podcasts that were programmed to play on an empty FM radio channel. The experience taught me a few valuable lessons:
- The power of audio is extremely powerful when used correctly. It is captivating and engaging.
- Students take producing audio very seriously. After the initial “do I really sound like that?!” comments, they buckle down and focus on important aspects of oral reading such as inflection, meter, and pronunciation.
- The broadcast over the radio was not nearly as popular as the mp3 uploads for each show. Students preferred listening to each other on the computer or through an iPod or MP3 player.
It is because of the last lesson that I don’t run the radio anymore, but I have certainly taken the wealth of experience I gained from the radio station and use it regularily in my classroom. Considering their educational value, student interest, and relative ease of creation, it’s amazing that podcasts are not part of every classroom. The reason for this is most likely because teachers get caught in the details of the equipment before they ever have a chance to publish their first podcast. Sometimes technology is its own worst enemy.
So today’s post has a simple purpose – remove the technology from the equation so that podcasting can be used in the classroom. For under 200 bucks, you can create a podcasting studio that is equipped to handle multiple students recording conversations, plays, oral readings, book reviews, etc.
- That you have a computer or laptop
- You have some general understanding of Audacity (If you don’t, here’s a tutorial)
- You know what to do with the podcast after it is created
What you need:
Everything on this list can be found at Musician’s Friend. By ordering it together, you will be eligible for free shipping. This setup will accommodate three students recording at the same time (it is better to have a microphone for each student so you can control their individual volume levels).
- Behringer Eurorack UB1202 Mixer $79.99
This connects to the computer through USB and will allow for each microphone (or channel as it’s called in the “biz”) to be controlled separately.
- Musician's Gear 5 Pack Windscreens $9.49
These windscreens fit over the microphone and will help keep students from “popping” their Ps and breathing heavily while recording. These screens will greatly improve the quality of the recording at very little cost to you.
- Audio-Technica M4000S Microphone 3-Pack $49.99
Are these the best microphones? Not really – but they’ll get the job done and are ideal for podcasting. I would suggest upgrading to something in the Shure line if you plan to record instruments/music.
- Musician's Gear Lo-Z Microphone Cable $4.49 (x3)
The length of cable will depend on the physical location of the computer and where you expect students to be sitting during recording. The 15 cables are less than 5 bucks and should be long enough for most situations. Don’t forget to buy three of them!
- Musician's Gear Tripod Desk Mic Stand with Clip $12.99 (x3)
Mics are suprisingly sensitive and often put up the sounds of hand movements and vibrations when held during recording. The easy solution are these cheap microphone stands. Buy three!
There you have it – your very own classroom recording studio. All for the low price of $191.91.