By Colleen O’Brien
Millburn High School is gearing up for a brand new Podcasting Center for the 2019-2020 school year. The Podcasting Center will be located in the library, will run on a flexible timetable, and have an accessible scheduling calendar.
Says Media Specialist Ladawna Harrington, “the equipment will be available to all the content areas, as well as our English Language Learners population, and other school community groups such as the staff, PTO, administration, and clubs.”
Harrington has started a team of podcasting “student experts” who will provide technical assistance, support, and training. Podcasting is unlike social media handles like Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook. It’s rather, she emphasized, “a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or a mobile device.”
Podcasts can be videos as well as audio presentations. Like TED talks, podcasts hone in on an interest-grabbing subject for viewers or listeners.
According to Harrington, podcasting is a stellar tool in the following areas: vocabulary, writing, editing, public speaking, and presentation skills. “Students,” she said, also can “learn skills that will be valuable in the working world, such as communication, time management, and problem-solving.”
Critical thinking skills “that engage students in planning and organizing as they work to produce products that can be shared locally or to a broader global reach,” are also anticipated as part of opportunities that will be provided by the Podcasting Center.
The Podcasting Center will pay attention to the speaking and listening components of the Common Core Standards. Harrington expects that using digital recording devices will help students “participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.” Students also will practice their chops by: “listening to others with care, gaining the floor in respectful ways, speaking one-at-a-time about the topics and texts under discussion, and follow agreed upon rules for discussion.”
Harrington hopes that the students’ podcasting experiences will lead to building “on others’ talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others, tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant descriptive details, and speak audibly in coherent sentences.”
The creative bug is expected to be sparked as well. The media specialist anticipates students creating “audio recordings of stories or poems, with drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.”
Social emotional literacies also are enhanced with podcasting. These finer points of human interaction include “self-awareness, by recognizing strengths, self-confidence, and self-efficacy.”
Harrington pointed out that self-management is practiced with podcasting by having the students do goal-setting and by practicing organizational skill-building.
Social awareness is invaluable here as well, through taking a longer view – a perspective – of a particular subject, practicing empathy, and of course, showing respect for others.
Relationship skills are an interactive part of podcasting because there’s necessary communication between at least the podcaster and his or her audience, there’s social engagement, there’s strengthening budding relationships, and of course, there’s building a team to work in partnership with.
For Harrington, “podcasting addresses both the need for students to take an active role in individualized learning as well as developing environments of high quality collaborations. All school groups will benefit from the Podcasting Center.”
Partnering with the community is an important outgrowth of the new initiative. Said Harrington, “It cultivates community partnerships within the school and local community — including families and caregivers, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, public and higher education libraries, and businesses. It will promote engagement and a community of readers.”
Harrington wrapped up with — the Podcasting Center is all about linking leaders. “It leads in setting the school district’s vision and strategic plan for digital learning. It fosters a culture of collaboration and innovation to empower teachers and learners.”