Podcasting

Listen to this blog – Talkr

My growing list of favorite podcasts:

I currently subscribe to the following podcasts in iTunes:

  • Doug Johnson’s Breaking Bread and Tech Squawk
  • The Library Channel
  • School Library Journal
  • Alan November
  • 2¢ worth Podcasts with David Warlick
  • Teaching with SMARTBoard
  • Women of the Web 2.0

My latest new habit that really works for me is I use my daughter’s iPod hand-me-down to listen to podcasts (as well as music). I particularly enjoy podcasts by Joyce Valenza, Alan November and Joan Fry Williams for daily inspiration and ideas on my walk to work.

Why Podcast?

In Manitoba, podcasting is included in our Literacy with ICT Continuum as one way for students to communicate their learning:
C-2.1 discusses information, ideas, and/or electronic work using tools for electronic communication (examples: email, electronic whiteboards, web pages, threaded discussions, videoconferences, chats, instant messages, camera phones, wikis, blogs, podcasts, online whiteboards…)
C-3.1 adjusts communication based on self-evaluation and feedback from a global audience

Many reasons for podcasting in schools are explained in the “Why Podcast” podcast made available at http://blogs.wsd1.org/podcasts/.

In this podcast teacher Jean Haldarson explains why she and her students podcast:

  • podcasting requires students to read, write, speak and listen as well as develops a willingness to write draft after draft of scripts in preparation to podcast to the web
  • higher level thinking skills – for example students may need to synthesize science learning
  • most of the podcasting process is spent in the upper level of high level thinking
  • it requires students to work together – podcasts with multiple authors require each student assigned one segment of the project
  • rise in self-esteem & confidence / students learning along with adults to create the podcast

Robert Craven provides many reasons for administrators to podcast including communicating better with parents and community.

Reasons that I find compelling for using podcasts for professional development include:

– they’re easy to distribute
– podcasts can be uploaded to a personal listening device and busy teachers can listen at their leisure or while they’re exercising or doing mundane household chores.

Tony Vincent also made a great suggestion for a classroom application of podcasting in his manual Podcasting for Teachers and students. He suggested interviewing important people. He also provides the information for the software needed to record an interview through Skype to later import into Audacity. This way students can interview an expert from far away.

Making My First Podcast

Here’s the link to my school blog where I posted my first podcast. I took the opportunity to podcast how I created an .mp3 file using Audacity (instead of explaining myself in writing for a change).

Podcasting for Teachers and students by Tony Vincent guided me to Levelator software which made my first attempt at podcasting sound so much easier to listen to and smoother. I remember having different students narrate into Photostory 3 software. Quite often the variation in the volume of speech from child to child was quite distracting, so I really appreciate the value of the free little Levelator download. I also followed the steps in Vincent’s handy manual to add information, details and artwork in iTunes so that it would be labeled properly for anyone who decided to download it into iTunes.

I posted this improved podcast through SolidCasts which is one of the online hosting services suggested in Tony Vincent’s manual. It can be heard here. This podcast also appears on a very plain looking webpage, but it’s free and it comes with some handy buttons. For example it has the html code and RSS feed buttons and iTunes buttons for subscribing to the podcast series. Unfortunately Bloglines and Microsoft feeds registered an error each time I tried to subscribe using their html code or URLs so I need to seek some advice about this. The site does provide good hints for registering your podcasts in iTunes and other hints for promoting the podcast.

WordPress has a $20.00/year upgrade for uploading 5 GB of video and audio directly into this blog. I was tempted to try it out because I think it looks so much cooler when it’s played right on a blog post, but decided to learn how to use a free service because that way I can better faciliate our adult students to post their podcasts for free.

I posted my first example above on my school blog which is administrated by my school division educational technology consultants. I eventually want to be able to embed my podcasts using the free hosting service “Podango” as in the “Why Podcast” podcast mentioned above. Each time I went to the Podango website and Podango blog I got a “503 Service Unavailable” message. I was able to get in and register on Monday, and am now beginning to learn the process of embedding podcasts into my school’s WordPress blog.

I wish I had come across Ann Bell’s excellent podcast rubric @ http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/podcastrubric.html before I produced my podcast. After going through the rubric I realize I could have done a much better job by paying attention to a few details such as:

providing my name at the beginning of the podcast instead of at the end

providing the date of the podcast

paying better attention to smooth transitions and pacing

concluding by summarizing the key points

The biggest drawback for podcasting at my school at this point may be the excessive amount of time it takes to produce them. For example it took me 8 hours to research podcasting, then 8 more hours for me to produce my 2:18 minute podcast. I don’t know of any students at Adult Education Centre that could act as mentors to teachers or other students. So for busy teachers at my school, it may require an educational leave to prepare podcasts for use in their classes or as professional development aids. It may also be a hard-sell to convince senior high teachers to readjust their course outlines to allow several hours to facilitate the process for their students.

All in all however there couldn’t have been a better time for me to learn how to podcast. An EAL teacher asked me this week if I could walk her through the steps to do a series of podcasts that she will burn to CDs for her students. We have set aside time next week to go through the process together. One of the technology leaders in the school has asked to sit in too, and we’ve already talked about working together to do podcasting with her students. The World Issues teacher and I have decided to prepare a multimedia presentation for the library on Remembrance Day that will loop throughout the day on November 10. The plan is that students will produce a podcast that will play as part of the presentation. Change is in the air(waves)!

David Loertscher spoke at the Manitoba Special Area Group Teacher Librarian Conference in November, 2007 and concluded his keynote speech with the message: “There is no new technology that you cannot learn”. I feel my foray into learning podcasting proves his point beautifully.

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2 Responses to Podcasting

  1. Joanne de Groot says:

    Thanks, Rhonda. I love the quote you include at the end…I truly believe that in order to be 21st century teacher-librarians, we have to be able to learn these new technologies and then be leaders in our schools and communities to help others learn them and use them with kids!

    I’m so glad that your teachers are already taking advantage of your new found knowledge to learn more about podcasting. I think you (and your teachers) will love Voicethreads when we do that in a couple of weeks. It is a really simple way to incorporate images and audio and it’s all hosted on the web. Great stuff! You’ll have to let us know how your Remembrance Day multimedia presentation goes.

  2. Dave Jackson says:

    In my opinion, the most flexible solution is to host worpdress on your own server (for about $2-$7 a month). Then you have access to all the great plugins and tools that can take your wordpress (and podcast) to a much higher level. I know the technology can be terrify, but you can go from terrified to satisfied with just a little boost.

    Dave Jackson
    http://www.schoolofpodcasting.com

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