Sharing pupils' work with the wider community used to be a difficult and costly process. If you wanted to start a radio station, for example, you had to apply for the relevant broadcasting licence, which could costs thousands and still only give you 28 days' broadcasting rights - and that's before you'd invested in the necessary equipment. The same went for television.
Nowadays, the internet means there are myriad ways for students to share and broadcast their work, and it's now a relatively easy process to "broadcast" radio or TV-style programmes. The great thing is that most of the technology is already in a lot of schools, and if it isn't, a lot can be downloaded for free.
Giving children the chance to broadcast their work in this way encourages communication, listening and writing. It is also highly motivating and can be a huge confidence booster. Allowing pupils to discuss the issues that are important to them and have a real-life experience that brings them into contact with people and issues outside their daily lives, can be a great way of engaging children who are not readily engrossed by other subjects.
Organisations such as Radiowaves (www.radiowaves.co.uk) are set-up to help children (and teachers) with the process of writing, recording and publishing their own work on the internet, using their web-based programmes. They provide a safe environment for children to share and collaborate, which is an important factor.
Aside from a computer, an internet connection and somewhere to upload all your file to (this is where the Radiowaves website comes in), all you need to get going is an MP3 player with a microphone (many have them built in, but for others, such as the iPod, you can buy external microphones) to make the recordings. For video work you just need a digital video camera.
You can then download free software, such as Audacity (audacity.sourceforge.net), if you're on a PC, to mix and edit the audio files, and convert them so they can be uploaded to the website. For video files, download Windows Movie Maker (www.microsoft.comwindowsxpdownloadsupdatesmoviemaker2.mspx).
If you're on a Mac, Apple's latest version of its digital creativity suite, iLife (www.apple.comilife), has everything built-in that you need to edit audio and video files for the web. However, older versions still have as much capability as the PC software mentioned above.
Of course, you can make all this content available on your school's website. Why not share sports days or field trips with parents by putting films or podcasts on your site. The opportunities for sharing and creativity are limitless.
* Online Jargon Busters can help you at: www.tes.co.ukJargonbuster