An (aspiring) Educator’s Blog

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Podcaster workshop: What makes a good podcast? (part 1)

with 7 comments

Last week, I decided to start podcasting. Being the tech geek I am, I Googled the web for howtos, and quickly found the best freeware and (reasonably-priced) digital recorder. Now, my box is cracked open, and I’m asking myself hard questions about podcasting. What makes a good podcast? It seems like howtos for podcasting focus on what should come second -the tools of the trade, rather than what should come first – content.  If I’m going to create a podcast for listeners, or use podcasts in my classroom next year (both to deliver content and for student projects), good content has to be at the heart of my planning and execution.

Dan Meyer says it best:

Consider these three mediums, in increasing order of technical difficulty: blogging, podcasting, and vodcasting.

  • Successful blogging requires original thought, sturdy writing, and bloodthirsty editing.
  • Successful podcasting requires original thought, sturdy writing, bloodthirsty editing, and a command of the aural experience.
  • Successful vodcasting requires original thought, sturdy writing, bloodthirsty editing, a command of the aural experience, and a command of the visual experience.

In order to achieve the same communicative result, not only does the number of necessary skills increase across all three mediums but the editing process for each grows harder and vastly more technical, the difference between hitting the delete key in one and wielding Final Cut Express’ digital blade in the other.

What does it mean to have “a command of the aural experience”? Should I ship my digital recorder back to Amazon because my content is best conveyed via blog? I’m a big fan of writing workshop in my classroom. Students work through the phases of the writing process: immersion, collecting ideas, drafting, revision, editing, publishing, and celebration. I’ve decided to put myself through a podcasting workshop.

Now, I’m in my immersion process. In the classroom, I read texts by genre, author, or craft strategy. Then, I chart students’ observations about the texts, and we make an attribute chart. Over the past few days, I’ve listened to a variety of podcasts. I’m in the process of creating an attribute chart.


When I started making the chart, I realized it needs a different layout in its final version to separate different podcast formats (two hosts w/no interviews, roundtable/multiple people, narrator and story/interview, etc). This chart is still a good way to get started. When I have listed all attributes, I’ll sort podcasts into type. To start an attribute chart, pick your favorite podcasts (or ones you think are noteworthy), and figure out which features are shared between the podcasts. The final steps are to figure out which common attributes I should include in my podcast and the “holes in the market” – attributes my podcast will have that others do not have.

Stay tuned for my completed and sorted attribute chart in part two of my podcaster workshop series. What are attributes you’ve noticed in your favorite podcasts? Are there holes in the market – attributes you think should be in some podcasts but are missing? Can you reccomend podcasts I should listen to and add to my attribute list?

Podcasts listened to: Science Friday Podcast (NPR), This American Life (NPR), Stuff You Should Know (, various news podcasts (The Economist, BBC, CNN, etc), Rachel Maddow Green 960, SMARTboard Lessons PodcastWicked Decent Learning Podcast, Project Xiphos, Bit by Bit, and EdTech Weekly.


Written by TeacherC

3 April 2009 at 6:33 pm

7 Responses

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  1. I was interested to read your post. I too enjoy Bit by Bit and Seedlings podcasts. I’m curious if you had any feedback on my podcast (Wicked Decent Learning). Dan and I are always looking for feedback that will help us improve our show.

    Looking forward to part 2 of your blog post.

    Jeff Bailey
    Wicked Decent Learning Co-Host

    Jeff Bailey

    16 April 2009 at 3:09 am

  2. Hi, I enjoyed your post about podcasts. I am a teacher hoping to get into this myself, but I would really like to have my stuff show up on the iTunes store. Have you run into any decent (i.e. ways beyond the iTunes tutorial) ways to do this or are you going to host on your site only?


    19 April 2009 at 3:04 pm

  3. I feel far more men and women require to read this, extremely good info.


    16 May 2010 at 7:55 pm

  4. Excellent post. Hope to see even more excellent posts in the near future.


    17 May 2010 at 5:55 pm

  5. Hey there, I’ve found your website on Yahoo, it’s really interesting. I surely will be back later to check things out again. Keep up the good work!

    Aja Niesborella

    23 May 2010 at 1:00 pm

  6. Good food for thought. My question would is: How do you benchmark a Podcast’s success?
    There must be listener tiers but Radio shows tiers cannot be used as a comparison. So, what are the marks?


    26 August 2010 at 11:33 am

  7. I am a teacher and I am looking for some key principles of design that I could teach my students about – similar to the concepts of proximity, unity, repetition, alignment, contrast etc that they understand from their work in graphic design.
    Any ideas to source these principles?


    8 June 2011 at 6:27 pm

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