Saturday, October 11, 2008

Blog #4 The Audacity of Podcasting

Will Richardson (2006) defines podcasting as “the creation and distribution of amateur radio” (p. 112). Ester Kreider Eash, author of the Podcasting 101 for K-12 Librarians article defines podcasting simply as “a digital audio file that’s created, shared, and heard” (2006, p. 1). Eash (2006) writes that there are two fundamental reasons for using podcasts in education: (1) a method to retrieve educational information authored by others and (2) to distribute information through personal creating and sharing.

Discovering that podcasting was this week’s Web 2.0 focus I had to quickly determine where I had placed my computer microphone. It has been over a year since I created my first podcast in a previous graduate course. Actually that was also the last time I had used the microphone. While my experience as a creator is limited, my experience as a podcast consumer is a little more extensive. Once I found my microphone, it was time to begin the process of recording. The recording application I had used in the past was Audacity. This 'easy-to-use' application is great for recording and editing audio files. It is also the recommended program of choice by Will Richardson in chapter 8 of his book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Remembering the simplicity of Audacity’s editing features was reason enough to use it again for this course. My initials thoughts on recording a podcast was to show how I could incorporate this tool into a primary school setting. I chose to read a picture book titled ‘So, What’s It Like to Be a Cat?’ by Karla Kuskin. Having book talks or audio book podcasts available for young students with reading difficulties or disabilities is a way to provide differentiated learning and a great way to promote the library collection, reading and literacy to students. After the recording process was complete it was time to choose an application to upload and share my podcast, and I chose to use PodOmatic. The process of uploading the mp3 file to PodOmatic was not terribly difficult but it took me some time (mainly due to my unfamiliarity with the program) to complete all of the steps required to post a podcast. The final step was to upload the podcast to my blog…and the process was complete.

Education, Podcasts and Podcasting
If podcasting is a new concept for students and educators, I recommend showing them Podcasting in Plain English created by Lee LeFever at Common Craft. This video gives a simple explanation of podcasting whether you want to create your first podcast or you simply want to listen to podcasts. LeFever lists three reasons as to the rising popularity of podcasts:
-Podcasting is a digital medium accessible for all computer users
-Podcasts are available through subscriptions making following favourites an easy task
-Podcasts are just not limited to listening on computers, there are numerous mobile gadgets that serve as portable listening devices

Podcasts are created so that digital consumers and learners can listen to shows on demand at their own convenience. What makes this form of learning inviting is that there is an over abundance of free podcasts for all subject areas. Kathy Schrock, one of the bloggers I am following, has created an online podcast rubric so that educators can take time to evaluate What Makes a Good Podcast. Many educators take time to analyze the content of websites, however it may not occur to everyone to evaluate a podcast with the same care. Kathy provides a printer friendly PDF version for teachers to follow thirteen educational guidelines to evaluating the quality of podcast in an educational setting. Below is a partial screenshot of the podcast checklist developed by Kathy.

What influence and implications do podcasts have on education for students…for teachers?
-Provide differentiated instruction by adapting content in response to student learning profiles.
-Supports verbal-linguistic learners using Garndner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences
-Allows students and teachers the ability to have access to professionals and educational experts worldwide
-Facilitates professional development and distance learning for educators
-An exciting Web 2.0 format for engaging learners
-Asynchronous learning that allows students to review, replay and revisit information

Managing Your Podcasts
Many bloggers (readers and creators) recognize the importance of an RSS aggregator to help manage the continual updates blogs receive on a regular basis. Doug Johnson’s article Don't underestimate the importance of the aggregator echoes the value of managing current Internet feeds. I use Google Reader as my main application for updating Web 2.0 information sources, but have taken time to view the following tools as well:

Something that I had not experienced until this week was managing podcast subscriptions using iTunes. As LeFever stated in ‘Podcasting in Plain English’ one needs a podcatcher. On occasion I would find podcasts, listen to them through my laptop, and place them in an audio file for future reference. This was a timely and disorganized way to find, listen and store podcasts. This past week I set up a handful of my favourite subscriptions and now have an orgainzed central location to locate and listen to podcasts…now and forever.

There are many free podcasts on the Internet, too numerous to list. I conducted a few searches this week, finding podcasts for a variety of educational subject areas. One website of particular interest was The Education Podcast Network. This site arranges podcasts by subject area and is host to podcasts created by professionals and students alike. Here is a random sampling of podcasts I found searching through the Education Podcast Network:
Learn to speak Japanese through free daily podcasts.
The Bobby Bucket Show
A podcast site for teachers, students and parents focusing on authors and reading.
National Geographic
Free science, nature and video podcasts.
Sax Tips Podcast
Music lessons, tips and technique for playing the saxophone.

Eash, E.K. (2006). Podcasting 101 for k-12 librarians. Computers in Libraries. Retrieved

EdTechTalk. (2008). Woman of the web show #65.
Retrieved from

LeFever, L. (2008). Video: Podcasting in plain English. Retrieved from

Johnson, D. (2008). Don't underestimate the importance of the aggregator. Blue Skunk Blog. Retrieved from

Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Schrock, K. (2008). What makes a good podcast. Retrieved from

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