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Classroom Podcasting: Should we use Paid or Free Applications?

Classroom Podcasting for Free or Paid Apps

When thinking about creating a curriculum that incorporates the creation of both audio and video projects, it’s easy to first think of time and energy.  For most teachers, their next thought revolves around cost.

There are dozens of great audio and video apps available for all platforms that fit into both of those categories, but the reality of the situation is that the right answer might not always fit into one single category.

Paid vs Free

Paid vs FreeIt’s easy to cross your fingers and hope that everything you and your students want to do revolve around apps that are free.  For example, if you want to create a basic screencast on your Mac, there are several options. You can use a Chrome Extensions such as Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic or simply open up Quicktime and save your project directly to your hard drive.

But what value comes with the free options.

In this case, if all you are looking to do is have a simple “how-to” video then the Chrome Extensions and QuickTime model will work flawlessly.  But … what about a situation where you might want to edit your recording or perhaps splice two recordings together.

This is where you open up your trustworthy editing tools such as WeVideo or iMovie. Both of these are fantastic video editors and are both available free of charge.  But are they the best option for your classroom?

Is Free Always Better?

Let’s take iMovie.  It’s a fantastic application that many students begin learning when they are in the primary grades.  With iMovie, you can input your clips, do some basic editing, add transitions and export a nice movie.  I Love iMovie for its simplistic layout and professional quality. I also love that you can start a project using iMovie on your iPad during a conference and finish it back in your home studio. However … once you get past a certain point with iMovie you begin to realize that something is missing.

Now let’s take a look at WeVideo.  One of the best online video editing solutions is available both as a stand-alone application and also available directly through Google Drive.  As a free version, you have the ability to input your clips, and cut and paste your audio, video, transitions and much more. However, once you get past a certain point in your development as a video editor you begin to realize that something is simply missing.

Learn which applications you should and shouldn't be paying for in the world of classroom audio and video Click To Tweet

What’s Wrong with Pay to Play?

It’s time to take a quick look at some of the paid options available.  For the last 6-years, I have been using Apple’s professional video application called Final Cut Pro X.  (pronounced TEN) As a studio editor that is constantly trying to create professional style videos, it’s hard to think of creating audio or video podcasts without it.  In fact, I recently lugged my MacBook with me all the way to the ISTE conference not because I needed it but simply to have a copy of Final Cut Pro with me to edit my clips on the airplane.  

Someone might look at FCPX and mention it’s heavy price tag of $300 and I can certainly agree that the cost of that might scare someone.  However, after calming that teacher down and explaining to them that six years ago the application cost me $300 and they have been upgrading it 3-4 times a year without charging anything extra, you can clearly see that I have gotten much more out of it than the monetary value of the application.  It has, in fact, made me money. Additionally, by having a more professional application, I am able to supplement it through audio and video plugins which in turn makes my projects much better.

The same thought process goes with WeVideo.  When you first get started with WeVideo, you find that it is a fantastic video editor for students of all ages.  However, once you realize that the free version has both time and visual limitations, you might see the value of paying for the premium subscription and unlocking all of its hidden features.

When should we go free? When should we go premium?

The options and abilities to drop a few bucks are certainly on a case by case basis.  Perhaps you are in a school district that does not support the purchasing of video applications but you would like to create screencasts of your own.  This is a great opportunity to take advantage of simple apps and extensions.

If you are looking to create an environment where students are using real-world applications such as in a film club or to create school-wide morning announcements then using at least some premium applications should be budgeted.

Lucky for most, companies such as Apple and WeVideo have fantastic educator pricing.  For example, school districts, teachers, and students wishing to take advantage of educator pricing can get almost half price on Final Cut Pro X, Motion, and Compressor.  

What are you waiting for … right?

What is your policy for paying for software?

We would love to learn how your district chooses which applications are free and which are able to be on the pay list.  How do these decisions work in your district?

Please leave us a comment below and share your stories today!

About the author, Jeffrey

Jeff Bradbury, creator of TeacherCast, and father of the famous @EduTriplets is the Coordinator of Instructional Technology at Westwood Regional School District. Thanks for checking out TeacherCast today. Please take a moment to find me on all of my Social Media channels!