This past Saturday I went to the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Greensboro, Central Unit. I spoke with several adult staff members and kids to shed some light on podcasting. We started off by talking about what they wanted to know and what their plans were. The Boys and Girls Club has a small computer lab with several PC laptops and a video projector. Some of the machines had the free open source software Audacity.
Then I played some examples of audio and video podcasts. I started with some podcasts made by adults. Then I played them some ‘casts made by kids. But what they all really wanted to do was record audio. So that’s what we did.
The laptops had built in mics. Audacity had already been configured by their computer support guy Aaron Thompson. He even had the lamelib mp3 encoder installed and recognized by Audacity. I did a short recording demonstration then the kids took over. I am constantly amazed at how proficient kids are with computers. They can MOVE around software fast!
First they recorded themselves saying their names. Then they decided to say their names, what school they went to, and what they wanted to be when the grew up. The first recordings were a bit distorted. This was mainly because the recording levels were a bit high and they were so close to the mic. Those built in computer mics are sensitive!
We adjusted the recording levels in Audactity and in the Windows sound control panel. I then explained that another way to control the levels of a recording is to change the distance of your mouth to the microphone. So we stepped back from the laptop a bit and recorded a few more examples. After that we reviewed how to save your project, how to export an mp3 from the audio you just recorded, and even what ID3 tags were.
That really was bunch for one day so we wrapped it up and eat some pizza. (It was snowing a bunch too) Next time we’ll discuss what to do with the audio in order to podcast it.
I had a great time and am excited about working with these kids again. It got me thinking about how there must be a lot more kids who would like making podcasts. Maybe I’ll work on a series of hands on podcasting workshops for kids. This might be a cool thing to do at PodcasterCon 2007.
Thanks to Ndesanjo Macha [for inviting me], Aaron Thompson, Ann Robinson, the kids, and everyone who attended. 😀