Bridging the Chasm between Fantasy and Reality

Last week I concluded my blog with the following ambitious statement:

“Some of the best professional development comes from in-school sharing and collaboration. That’s where I see myself teaching in the read/write web – to break out of the “echo chamber” that is web 2.0 and to bridge the chasm between what some may see as fantasy to reality.”

Today I attempt to answer the question “Where do I begin to bridge the chasm?

The biggest challenge to introducing the power of Web 2.0 tools into every classroom is the time it takes to learn. In Anne Davies blog “Thinking about change – Nov. 7, 2008 , Anne eloquently states:

I think a big part of why educators are not out of their own networks is that their day is filled with other priorities that the teacher has to accomplish. I wish schools would make reflection and learning time for teachers a priority that nothing could interrupt. Students need the same. I agree that educators need to blog, use wikis, del.icio.ous and the like but until the educators’ learning and growth is truly made a priority within our schools, I don’t think we will make the progress we need to achieve. We need leaders that make this happen. A reflective culture of learning and growing must be nurtured in our schools.

As Bridget McCrea reports in The Journal – Karl Fisch: Creating Lifelong Learners, Karl Fisch of Arapahoe High School, frustrated with the pace of technology integration into classroom practice, secured grant funding to provide significant release time for teachers to learn and apply the latest technology tools.

This is a professional development (PD) model in which I would love to participate. When the time is right, I will definitely be there to collaborate with teachers to delve deeply into the power of blogging and the interrelated world of Web 2.0 for education. But that will take time to work with school leadership and setting up as a possible school priority and I want to start right now. Again I ask myself, “Where do I begin?”

podango-sound1 Click Here To Learn Which Web 2.0 Tool I’ll Begin With and Why

(The background music is called “Outdoor Ambience” and was downloaded from Soundzabound Royalty Free Music for Schools and the “ptwiiing” effect is available as a freeware download courtesy of Chris from

Why Podcast?

Wesley Fryer makes outlines a rationale for podcasting in education in his “Why Podcast?” ppt linked below

Check out a fuller description here .

In Manitoba podcasting is one of the suggested ways for students to “Show Understanding” of their Literacy with ICT Inquiry Projects as seen in this Developmental Continuum:

What is Educational Podcasting?

Here’s Tony Vincent’s comprehensive site for Finding and Subscribing to Podcasts.

One of the sites on Tony’s list: The Education Podcast Network (EPN) “is an effort to bring together into one place, the wide range of podcast programming that may be helpful to teachers looking for content to teach with and about, and to explore issues of teaching and learning in the 21st century.”

My advice would be to find and sample the podcast series you’d like to follow in EPN, then subscribe in iTunes. This list is great to illustrate the abundance and wide range of educational podcasts available, even though it is incomplete. The podcast series that is noticeable absent from this list is the cutting edge k12online08 Audio Channel , so that would be a good one to demonstrate subscribing to through iTunes. EdTechTalk is listed, but the full breadth of the podcast would be worthy of demonstrating as well, in particular the Women of the Web 2.0 podcast series.

How to Podcast?

Wes Fryer includes an extensive list of resources for getting started with educational podcasting on his Podcasting Wiki here.

One of the resources listed on this wiki is Tony Vincent’s Excellent Podcasting for Teachers & Students Click on the image below to view the full .pdf file.

I followed Tony’s guide to create my own first podcast, from installing and using Audacity and Levelator Software to labelling and importing my podcast into iTunes complete with original artwork. This guide even details how schools can create and promote their own podcast series.

An important part of planning to podcast with students is exploring, then discussing what makes a good podcast. Here are 3 possible assessment rubrics to help guide students in their learning linked below:


Educators will also want to familiarize themselves with the Podcasting Legal Guide for Canada (also linked to the image below):


“Why Copyright?”, due November 2008, is another resource educators will want to watch for:
Why Copyright? Canadian Voices on Copyright Law – Trailer

When Do I Find Time with My Colleagues?

If time is such an issue in introducing Web 2.0 tools to teachers, when will I introduce podcasting? I’m happy to report that I’ve already started! Students in a grade 12 Psychology class asked their teacher to help them edit a .mp3 file that they wanted to include in their multi-media presentation to demonstrate their understanding and learning of their inquiry project “Effects of the Menstrual Cycle on Women’s Mental and Emotional Health”. I was invited into the classroom and arrived in a flash! I demonstrated how to edit .mp3 files using Audacity, then how to search for more podcasts on their topic through iTunes (yes there were more podcasts on this topic), add their own dialog to the podcast and generally hooked a whole group of students, plus their teacher, on podcasting. This is what I meant when I wrote “Some of the best professional development comes from in-school sharing and collaboration. That’s where I see myself teaching in the read/write web”. – in authentic learning situations. I’m just waiting now for the interest and enthusiasm for podcasting to “catch on” in other classrooms.

A teacher of beginning English as Additional Language students asked for a demonstration of how to locate on the web and burn podcasts to a CD for her to play in the classroom. We set up a time to do this and after that I asked “Would you like to learn how to make your own podcast?” hoping that she would jump at the chance – and she did! She was surprised at how easy it was and that I would post the files on the school blog for her students so they could practice speaking English outside of the classroom in the comfort of their homes or at a library – at absolutely no cost to the school!

A few weeks ago I posted a podcasting test on the division-sponsored blog entitled How I Made This Podcast. The reason I did that was to demonstrate that podcasts can be uploaded and embedded directly into my school division blogs, but need to be linked from a podcast hosting service into this blog. Well, it turned out that my podcast was a “hit around the office” with the division’s Educational Technology Folks. After I expressed my initial embarrassment at this, I was asked to share what I’ve learned about podcasting with the Senior Years Educational Technology Mentor’s Group. This is my plan:

December session:

  • record the entire session using the podcast kit prepared by the ed. tech. folks and available for loan to schools
  • edit and share bits of the session as “minutes” on the 9-12 Mentor’s blog (giving my word processor a break for a change!)

January Session:

  • familiarize participants with the resources listed above
  • demonstrate and walk participants through making and posting a podcast on our mentor’s blog

I’ll also highlight this CBC podcast featuring Darren Kuropatwa following his Web 2.0 PD session at our Manitoba Special Area Groups Conference on Nov. 28, 2008.

The time is right for the “just in time learning” of podcasting in my little educational enclave and fortunately I’m ready!

Which Web 2.0 tool would you begin with?

podango-sound2Listen to this blog courtesy of


9 Responses to Bridging the Chasm between Fantasy and Reality

  1. Rhonda,

    Well you’ve certainly impressed me with the skills and abilities you already have in your use of technology. I dream of the day I will be able to walk into a classroom and help a teacher use one of the Web 2.0 tools. Looks like you are well on your way to making change not only in your building but beyond. Kudos to you!

    As for podcasts, no wonder you like them as you have a lovely recording voice. I am still rather nervous about them after the hassle of working through all the different applications to create the one I did for the course. May I contact you as a resident expert if I ever get stuck?


  2. katkin says:

    Hi Rhonda,

    What an outstanding blog entry on your plan to introduce podcasting to your colleagues! You are certainly “bridging the chasm between fantasy and reality” as you say. Your plan is so well scaffolded, it is no wonder that you are already seeing such positive results with students and staff. I agree that being available when students and teachers need you can be really key in promoting new technologies through the library program. Now that these students and their teacher are hooked on podcasting, it won’t be long before others will come calling.

    I also thought the visual impact of your blog was dynamic this week. I love the visuals you included such as the survey, the video and the screen captures. You will have to show me how you even captured our ICT continuum poster!


  3. Selena Jensen says:

    Hi Rhonda,

    Well from one podcasting fan to another – all I can say is ‘Wow’! Your post is full of excellent ideas, resources and applications. I will definitely be coming back to this post for podcasting rubrics and “how to’s”. I loved the addition of the survey – a perfect idea for this post. Thanks for the great ideas.

  4. Jes says:

    Hi Rhonda,
    I too love your survey – it looks very professional!
    After reading your post, I can understand why podcasting is your #1 Web 2.0 tool. I am afraid that I have had limited success with it at school because our computer lab (and me too for that matter) was ready to have a melt-down when students tried podcasting.
    It looks like you have a great plan in place for introducing teachers to podcasting. Good luck!

  5. Joanne de Groot says:

    Thanks, Rhonda. A great rationale for introducing podcasting to your staff and students. I hope that your colleagues can get excited about creating and using podcasts–there is so much potential here!

  6. Dave Jackson says:

    Way to be a leader. It is amazing the things you can do with podcasting. Its HUGE in education, but where does education stop? I know of grandparents that podcast bed time stories to their children. I know of veterans who are podcasting to tell of history from the people who lived it. I know of businesses who have maximized their profits and “gone green” because of podcasting. Keep spreading theword.

    Dave Jackson

  7. Maya Rasheed says:

    This is very good. what is a charm fantasy? I think speaking is good because everyone know it for business. You have made a very impressive site so far. I look forward to reading and learning more.

  8. Rhonda says:

    Thanks for the comment Maya. I find that the idea of infusing the new technologies including podcasting into educational practice is pure fantasy for some, and that I’m ready and willing to help bridge the chasm (deep rift in the earth) to make changes in the classroom.


  9. Melissa Techman says:

    enjoying your blog and plan to follow you on twitter! My approach to deciding which and when with my faculty is what I call the “Lamott” approach: bird by bird. Currently, it is Voicethread with 2 1st grade teachers. I showed them one I liked and asked: “If you get your students to write and draw about the 5 Famous Americans you study plus Obamba, would you like me to put that into a voicethread with the help of my library volunteers?” They were thrilled and the next step will be that the more tech-savvy of the 2 will want to make her own and soon they both will be comfortable with it. In this case, I chose a close-knit but overburdened team and offered to do most of the tech side, knowing that would take the fear out of it.
    I also put a screen-shot into a short presentation and said, “By the way, I did this screenshot with an easy free tool, email me if you want to know more….” and 3 of our sixteen teachers started using Jing.
    Another technique is the side-by-side comparison – poster of steps to save student work to their folder on our server (with screenshots) (16 steps!!!!) next to a poster of how to save work to a Google Docs account (one step).
    So, maybe my real answer to the question “Where do I begin?” is “everywhere!”.
    Thanks again for a blog I plan to keep on speed-dial!

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