Podcast transcript with links

Hi everybody,  it’s Anne here.  Learning about podcasting for me has been a bit like a game of hopscotch.  A game where you stood outside the grid of eight squares and threw the bottle cap or your rock down on the ground in the first square, and had to hop over it and go to the end and successfully come back on one foot, picking up your rock or bottle cap and hop out.  Well, not having much experience with podcasts outside of the course, learning about them has been like being a square one.

What I did know about podcasts is that with a Mac computer, you could easily download a program called “audacity” and start to record a podcast.  As I read and researched and searched bloggers and writers, I discovered that Garage Band, which my kids play with and do all kinds of neat things with, has a great feature for creating a podcast.  I’m actually using it right now to create this podcast for the course.

One of my first perceptions about podcasts was that they were strictly audio.  I’ve discovered that they can also contain video and images.  The thing that separates them from an audio file however is the RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feed.   The fact that it goes up on the web and gets pushed out to computers as opposed to just being recorded and sitting there, was an eye opener in my learning about podcasts.

At the beginning of this process of exploring podcasts, one of the things I thought about was why a podcast over a text file or a web page or a blog – what’s the difference?  What kind of impact does a podcast make as a web 2.0 tool?  Apart from lots of obvious benefits that I’ll talk about in just a minute, one of the things that struck me is that when you’re listening to somebody’s voice, you get such a different sense of the person, of their character and emotion that comes through in a podcast that just doesn’t come through in text.  This can be huge when it comes to connecting listeners to instructors, and people to ideas.  This makes podcasting a very powerful tool.

As I’ve been exploring web 2.0 tools and posting to the blog, I’ve been searching other blogs and following bloggers using Google Reader, and one of the blogs I came across that I really enjoyed and was impressed by was from a grade 3 class in New South Wales, Australia.  I commented on their blog, their teacher responded and when I went back to the blog to read the comment,  I discovered that the students had posted a voice thread.   One of the things then that I wondered was what’s the difference between a podcast and a voice thread?   So, as I have so often done in learning about the web 2.0 tools, I went off an a tangent to explore voice threads, how they work and how they connect a group of people who can be all over the world and how this is different from me sharing my learning, for example.

Starting with Will Richardson’s book, Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts (2010), one of the things I understood that makes it such an incredibly easy web 2.0 tool to use is the simplicity of creating a podcast.  You need a computer, a microphone to record and a way to listen – headphones or speakers.  It can all be done through your computer and you don’t necessarily need a portable device to download the podcast on to, although that is one of the huge benefits of podcasts.  They are portable but podcasts can be experienced right on your computer.

From here, I read a resource called, Listen Up! A Resource for Schools and Libraries by Linda Braun.  She gives a great description of podcasting, taken from Wikipedia, about how simple podcasting is.  It is audio on the web but as she says, “‘what makes podcasting distinct from other digital audio and video deliveries is the use of syndication feed enclosures.’” (p. 1)  She’s talking about the ability of people to subscribe to the RSS feed so that the podcast is delivered right to their computer.  So anyone who has an idea to share can create a podcast and share it in this way.

The variety of subjects for podcasts is as varied as people out there which is one of the amazing things I discovered going to sites like www.geeknewscentral.com , and the Education Podcast Network www.epnweb.org .  Also, I explored the ideas of educators like Joyce Valenza, www.neverendingsearch.com I bookmarked her site in Diigo, www.diigo.com for future reference.

I mentioned earlier that there are a number of benefits of podcasts that I would touch on.  One of them is the portability of podcasts.  Another is that once you have a podcast on your computer or MP3 device, you can listen to it wherever you are, whenever.  If you can’t listen to the whole thing, you pause, leave it and come back to it later.  I can see this being particularly useful to students if they miss a class or a lecture and the professor or instructor has created a podcast, they can listen to it, download it, and catch up on what they’ve missed.

Reflecting on students for just another moment there, apart from helping students catch up on a missed lecture, it’s a great way to differentiate learning so that you can meet the unique learning styles of your students.  So if you’ve got a student who just isn’t a strong visual learner, who learns better by listening and then making notes, doing the reading and reflecting, then you’re meeting the needs of that student and that is a huge benefit.

Another feature of podcasts that makes them appealing to student and adult learners alike, in my opinion, is being able to go to a site like iTunes and search an incredible number of podcasts that are archived there.

Some of the sites that I mentioned earlier, that I would go to search for podcasts, include the Education Broadcast Network, www.geeknews.com and www.podcastpickle.com.  As well, I found that I would love to use in a K-6 setting called www.storynory.com.   I learned about this site through an article I found searching the Proquest Education Database called “Listen Up” by Anna Adams and Mowers in the School Library Journal from December 2007.   In this article, they give all kinds of great examples of podcasts.  As they say, “to expand learning beyond the four walls of your classroom or library.”

Some of their recommendations that I explored and bookmarked were www.techchicktips.net, www.LearnOutLoud.com , iTunes U, Pandora Podcast Series www.podcastdirectory.com , Grammar Girls Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, and www.storynory.com.

The reference to a K-12 podcast on Book Talks Quick and Simple, got me thinking about the next category for our discussion about podcasts, is how we would see podcasts in our teaching and learning.  In a library, I could see podcasts being used to present new books, hot picks, the latest series, and the newest non-fiction in a more personal way that connects readers not only to the books but to the library and the library staff.   This is important especially when library staff are interested and enthusiastic about these new materials and want to get them into kids’ hands so that they can enjoy the experience of new books as well.

Another facet of teaching with podcasts is to teach kids to create their own podcasts so that they can present an interview at the end of a unit in social studies, or they can talk about a book, share music that they have created or they can present learning in any curricular area.

Another benefit is apparent to me, apart from the portability or anytime learning that a podcasts provides and that is that it can be archived.  It can become part of the digital portfolio of a students’ learning which is amazing to have not only for sharing with teachers and classmates but to have for parents at parent-teacher interviews.  Podcasts can also be uploaded to a class blog for sharing with the wider world.

Students may collaborate to create their podcasts, share them, and archive them.  One of the things that’s important is that if students have the same experience with a podcast, then they can have a conversation about the topic of the podcast, what they wonder about the ideas that come out of the podcast.  From the point of view of inquiry, this could be a great jumping off point for the teacher to help students pursue their questions in a way that is most meaningful to the student.

In a school setting, podcasts can also serve a useful function as a way for teachers to communicate with parents, communicate weekly or monthly to announce upcoming events, or present learning that has gone on or will go on in the classroom.  In the library, it can be used for book talks, to present events in other libraries as well to connect the community.

On a school web site, administrators may want to record a podcast to discuss what’s going on in the school or talk about upcoming events, really giving a personal feel to the school and connecting families and parents to the greater school community.

Just as an aside, one of the things that struck me about the podcast that I listened to , The 7 things you need to know about podcasting, as well as other sites previously mentioned is that these are just regular people with an interest and a passion in sharing their ideas in an unencumbered way and straight forward manner.  As Linda Braun mentions in her book, Listen Up!,  a successful podcast needs to be created fairly frequently and  on a regular basis to develop a following.  Once you have that, people will want to tune in to the next episode, the next installment and hear your newest ideas!

The next category of the discussion is to talk about podcasting in personal terms.  As I mentioned earlier, my experience of podcasts was limited to iTunes and the podcasts our professor created for us.  The courses that I’m taking in the TLDL program would be under the umbrella of my professional learning, my professional development.  A podcast helps create a connection with our professors and allows us to learn in a different way.  It’s a change from reading articles in databases. Sometimes though the podcasts haven’t been about the course content but have been more descriptive and supportive, guiding us in what we need to do, how to find balance, and manage the course work at this level.  So that personal connection that Jennifer makes with us reminds us to breath, think and not be stressed because sometimes things do pile up and we do get stressed.  Life gets busy and we have to juggle a lot.

I’ve enjoyed the podcasts of educators who are comfortable and competent with this technology and have been inspired to try it in my own work setting.  I would like to connect students with literature, non-fiction and new library resources in a different way, other than book displays and signage in the library.

I’d like to share something here, as I wrap up this podcast, from a resource I found called the, Do It Yourself Guide to Podcasting by Todd Cochrane.  This book gives a great breakdown of what podcasting is and how to get yourself set-up to do something right up to what he calls the “semi-professional” podcast.  What I want to share particularly is a passage called “the power of walk away content” and this, to me, says so much about what podcasting is all about.

Something that I discovered through my research is that it’s not by accident that podcasting is called “podcasting.”  Pod comes from the Apple device, the iPod and casting to represent broadcasting as in a radio broadcast.   Another resource that I used is called, Web 2.0 for Librarians and Information Professionals by Elyssa Kroski (2008).  It contains a chapter on podcasting and this is a telling quote:  “Declared the word of the year in 2005 by the New Oxford American Dictionary, podcasts are being used for language learning, interviews, tours, debates, course instruction, news and current event coverage.  Prestigious institutions such as Yale, Stanford, Princeton, and UC Berkley are adding their class lectures and commencement recordings to the over 1.5 million podcast episodes available on the web today. “ (p. 173)  She goes on to talk about the way libraries are using podcasts to be able to share news, book talks, oral histories, library tours, lectures, and story time.  From a PD point of view there are webinars for librarians which, once archived, can be accessed when it best suits the listener.  Kroski also discusses the pod catchers or aggregators like iTunes by Apple and podcasts by Yahoo, and Juice Receiver.  As well, she talks about the search engines such as www.podcastalley.com, www.podzinger.com, and www.plugged.com.  So, anyone interested in integrating podcasts has a wealth of resources, both print and digital, to get started creating podcasts.  And, like anything in life, the more you practice, the more you work with it, the more comfortable and competent you become with it.  Podcasts are a key part of web 2.0 social media that enable us to communicate, share and collaborate.

Thank you for listening.

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