Garageband vocal waveform

Podcasting in the Academics

There are many free audio editing programs that allow you to record and edit musical compositions as well as manipulate audio files. Garageband is a program that comes pre-installed on all Mac laptop and desktop computers and, like iMovie, is a relatively accessible application with a low barrier to entry. You can easily record and assemble your compositions, add effects, and publish to various sharing platforms. One of the more compelling uses of this program is in the realm of podcasting, which has seen incredible growth over the last several years. In fact, recent research finds the average person spends 4 hours, 10 minutes listening to podcasts per week.

Several podcasts have been produced here at Swarthmore. Most recently:
The Family Room and War News Radio.

Podcasting in the academic environment can often provide supplemental information on course subjects or present conversational critical analysis on material covered in class. Many popular podcasts cover current developments in world events, politics, arts, sciences, and educational and behavioral health. A solid introduction to a wide range of humanities and sciences academic podcasts can be found at H-Podcast.

Taking the time to develop and record a podcast either as course material or as a class assignment requires a small amount of preparation. If you decide to define the format of your podcast before-hand you will want to listen to a wide range of formats, and once you have identified and defined several successful podcasts, model your or your student’s own project around a similar set of structural characteristics and goals. Formats can range from roundtable discussions to first person storytelling to field recordings with contextual analysis, and so on.

Implementing music can greatly elevate your podcast when used as a transitional element to a story or a marker between sections of a larger discussion or story. These markers give the listener a chance to pause and process a particular set of information, and when uses strategically can greatly strengthen a particular topic or argument. Many free and open source musical tracks are available from the Free Music Archive. Just be sure to review the creative commons licenses associated with each track and site the sources at the end of your work when providing credits for the podcast.

Recording equipment such as table microphones or portable audio recording devices are available to checkout from Media Services and Academic Technologists can also assist in helping you develop your own podcast project. An overview of the process is available from