First, to enlighten our readers who may not already know, let me present a definition: a podcast is an audio broadcast made available online for downloading onto a computer or an mp3 player, like an iPod. To tell the truth, I didn’t know very much about them either before this week, when it became my job to teach podcasting to my YAN students. Clara and I approached this unit with some trepidation: how, we wondered, were we going to be able to get all 90 of our YAN students to record their own discrete 3 or 4 minute audio presentation, all in one week, and all using one computer (since Audacity, our free audio recording software, only seems to want to work on my Mac). In spite of our unease, Clara and I created a template for students to use to script their podcast, and I prerecorded my own podcast, which I planned to play to students as an introduction to podcasting in general. And for the last two days, armed with printed copies of the script template, I’ve been in Limbe and Buea Town, trying out my podcast lesson with my first two batches of YAN students.
The experience at both schools was, I’m glad to report, a big success. Our students dove into script-writing with gusto, and had a great time practicing reading their scripts aloud and preparing to be recorded. When students came out to my computer to record their work, many brought with them a highly-polished and highly-creative presentation that they read flawlessly. Of course, there were occasional hiccups—mostly because Yakam in Limbe and Lucia in Buea Town managed to find ways of making everyone laugh and ruining several different groups’ podcasts. Luckily, Audacity makes it easy to cut out errors, and the end results have sounded awesome. Soon, once the podcasts have been loaded onto students’ websites, you’ll be able to check them out yourselves!
There is something about recording voices that brings out the silliness in kids (I suppose that’s a pretty obvious statement—indeed, there is something about recording anything and anyone that brings out the silliness in everyone). In Buea Town, once each group had managed to get through recording their podcasts without (too much) laughter, I came up with a game: I challenged our kids to see who could successfully record themselves reading a short text without laughing, while their peers stood in front of them and made silly faces. Only two kids—Ebanje and Sadis—managed to do it. Impressive. I don’t think I could have. Then, as I walked away from my computer to clean up the classroom, a few kids grouped around and started recording themselves singing. The results were pretty amazing--Noela, Wose, and Uche, it turns out, have the most beautiful voices.
All in all, podcasting has been going really well. It is so much fun to give kids an opportunity to brainstorm what they want to say, and then have a chance to play with this technology. And it’s also so nice to have a break from our Internet-heavy classes that are always disrupted by slow connections and power outages. Mostly, I’m just feeling a lot of love for the wonderful group of students we have this year in YAN. They are fun, creative, smart, sweet, and hilarious. I’ve invited a bunch of the Buea Town crowd over to my house on Thursday to eat some snacks and hang out and listen to music, and I can’t wait. I’m sure it will be a blast.
- Josh Nathan, YAN Fellow