In December’s eCoffee session, Nick Evans talked about his experiences in podcasting. He and Steve Lee co-create the popular fortnightly podcast The Science Shed, described as “an irreverent ramble through the undergrowth of academia”. The half-hour podcasts involve discussion of a range of topics that both entertain and inform, encouraging engagement with science and with academia.
Nick talked through the process of creating and distributing a podcast, sharing lots of great advice for anyone who might want to have a go themselves.
Listening to podcasts online is an option, but numerous free apps will allow you to download podcasts for offline listening, for instance, while commuting to work. Nick recommended Podcast Addict (for Android) but there are many options out there. Twitter is a good source of recommendations or peers may have useful suggestions.
The Science Shed was inspired by podcasts that Nick and Steve enjoyed listening to, and is built around the kind of conversations they might have anyway. Ideas for content come from anything interesting that happens day-to-day, or stories in the news. While they sometimes read around topics they plan to talk about, the podcasts aren’t scripted. They should feel informal, although Nick mentioned the need to be aware of legal issues such as defamation.
In planning the podcast name, it’s important to consider how easily users will be able to find it – is it distinct enough (but easy to remember)?
Initially, Nick’s podcasts were recorded with a USB mic plugged into a laptop, which is a good way to get started. Over time, Nick and Steve invested in a zoom recorder, popping filter and mic stands for more professional sound quality.
If you would like to try something similar, the Digital Learning team lend out audio kit, so do get in touch.
The raw sound recordings are captured as wav files on an SD card, which can be loaded onto a laptop for editing. The free programme Audacity allows easy editing of multiple tracks, allowing content to be removed, moved or added. It’s possible to adjust levels and add in sound effects or jingles, which can be sourced for free online.
If you need to record and edit on a mobile device, the Ferrite Recording Studio app is another option.
Once editing is completed, the audio file is exported as an mp3 and then uploaded to SoundCloud. This platform is free to use, also offering a Pro alternative with greater capacity and more detailed statistics. Users can subscribe to the podcast and feed back in the comments section, with updates shared to other sites through the RSS feed.
There is a plethora of podcasts out there, so inventive titles that capture the attention of potential listeners help. The Science Shed has some good examples!
Our next session is Feb 8th (10-11 in LF9), when we will be looking at tools for mindmapping. All are very welcome.