A while ago, I published an e-book, “An Educator’s Guide to Podcasting Beyond the Classroom”, and it’s been really successful–it’s been downloaded over 1,000 times already! 😮
However, I’ve been thinking more about podcasting and the medium in general. After some time thinking, I think I’ve concluded that podcasting in its most basic form is about two things: speaking and listening.
Listening is the trouble spot here. I think it’s easy for people who can hear to forget that podcasting–both in production and consumption–is so auditorily-based. And, audio editing can get complicated and messy with thousands of features, effects, and add-ons.
That’s why I was super excited to stumble across the app Descript.
Here’s the breakdown of the app works:
Animation courtesy of Descript
Like any podcasting app, recording or submitting your audio file into Descript makes a transcript of your conversation. It’s similar to other products that feature speech-to-text conversion, but the feature that sets Descript apart is that any edits made to this transcript also makes edits to the corresponding audio. So cool!
You can even add in speaking after recording by typing too, using something Descript calls Lyrebird AI. The details here a little complicated here for me to fully understand, but the gist of Lyrebird is that it allows Descript to take a sample of any voice & recreate it to say just about anything.
The applications for Descrpt are really powerful: Imagine the possibilities for students & teachers who are hard of hearing or deaf. With Descript, they can fully participate in the podcasting editing and production process. And, for younger students, it takes all of the complicated audio-editing hassles out of the picture entirely, opening up podcast creation to a whole new audience. It’s the kind of the thing that makes my UDL and DEI (diversity, equity, & inclusion) heart happy.
What’s interesting about this scenario for me is that Descript actually wasn’t trying to address the needs of these particular populations in the first place. I actually emailed Descript about the potential for their app, and a couple of their team members told me they had never thought about their app being used in these ways. In a way, it speaks to the kind of approach that we as educators need to take to edtech apps generally:
What apps should do matters less than what apps could do.
Oh, and the price! Descript gives anyone 3 hours of transcription for free (perfect for small projects). After that, they do offer paid plans, but as an educator, you can go for a discounted plan that ends up being about $5 per month.
Sounds pretty sweet to me!
Nate Ridgway is a tech-loving history teacher in Indianapolis, Indiana and a co-author of Don’t Ditch That Tech: Differentiation in a Digital World. He specializes in lesson design and also is licensed in Special Education Mild Interventions. He’s taught in both middle school and high school settings, but currently is enjoying teaching World History & Dual Credit U.S. History. He is currently finishing a Masters degree in History at the University of Indianapolis.