I was looking forward to this week. Finally I can talk! Podcasting is not new to me; I have been doing it since the early 80's. Before there were great rooms, there were great basements, in particular, my cousin's basement. She was one of the few on the block to have a central vacuum. Cue the "ooooos" and "awwwwws". The vacuum hose was like a giant colon. Forever tripping us up as we raced around the basement rollerblading in the dark. But one day, we had the idea to play radio station. We took the mini record player into the backroom, placed one hose end by the record player and the other far away in the other room. The songs, the sad ones on the back of the little Disney albums, you know when Rapunsel's boyfriend goes blind…that one was most requested.
Fast forward to Video hits, and Good Rockin' Tonite that's where you would find me and friends hoping to catch the video of the week, setting the timer on our behemoth video player in the hopes that you could catch some video gold. Of course, with the advent of the ghetto blaster, we could now tape our own music. I remember setting up the machine in the hopes of catching Corey Hart's new hot hit, then hearing, in dismay, the thundering click signaling the end of the tape. Or God forbid, hearing his voice turn all muffled and discover the tape had been "eaten". Mixed tapes were the bomb. You could be cooler than any kid if you found the songs, owned the originals or had "underground" access. Now finally, my chance to be in charge, to have my own radio show…thanks Mr. Carlson …now off to find my inner Johnny Fever.
"One Flew over the Podcast's Nest" -Learning the Tool
What's really new about podcasting? Eash (2006) explains that podcasting is the Web 2.0 version of audio files which do not have the audience or the distribution of podcasts.
One of the books I flipped through illustrated the idea of creating podcasts in the car. The idea of having a microphone on the dashboard was appealing. Now at least, the cars driving by would think I was actually talking to someone else. But driving around in Edmonton, my podcasts were more likely to include inappropriate words and phrases such as…"Could the arrow get anymore bleep'in greener?"
Then I followed up on the recommendation to listen to great podcasts and I found some through this link. This changed my life! I could sit at work, cut and paste and get an education at the same time. I found myself wanting to chat with them. They couldn't seem to hear me, probably because it was pre-taped…sigh. Fascinating insights, heavy on the info and not having to wait for a pre-specified time. Loved it!
For some reason I was naive to think podcasting would be an easy tool to learn. What started off as a quick visit to my studio (A.K.A den) became a…
"…3 HOUR HOUR…a 3 HOUR TOUR…. the downloading started getting rough, the tiny MP3 was lost, if not for the courage of the Lit Maven the podcast would be lost, the podcast would be lost!"
Eash (2006) suggests 8 steps to producing your own podcasts.
- Gather the required hardware and software
I bugged people around the office and borrowed first a digital recording device, which was more involved because of the WAV files and then a cool Britney Spears headset which was more user friendly.
CAUTION: I was not prepared for all the steps required to publish a podcast!
I watched several tutorial and YouTube videos. I signed up to Audacity and couldn't open the digital recording WAV file…I cried. I-Tunes was not found off my work server at home, I cried further. I tried PodcastAlley but realized I needed to start at Audacity. I watched a tutorial and realized I need to get LAME-er than I already was. All this before I even attempted a podcast. The vacuum podcast was starting to look very appealing.
- Decide on content
The content had to be Web 2.0. I didn't have time for a manifesto, so I settled on Top Seven Reasons You Know You are in A WEB 2.0 course.
I rehearsed and put on my Britney Spears headset.
- Record the podcast
I pressed record, then saw all the toolbar buttons, time-shifting did not involve a DeLorean (although I tried). I stopped recording to watch this podcast tutorial in order to understand the toolbar. I am thankful for that because I would not have figured this out by osmosis.
- Test the podcast
I listened to my podcast and felt I sounded a little too much like Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday to President Kennedy. Not only that but I was holding my breath in spots and mumbling my speech. I re-recorded. Not to be blah, I searched for some public music sites. I found a great blues sample and downloaded. Here is a link to other sites that have free music and sound effects.
Audacity is fun to play around with. The sound files look like a life support readout and so that made me feel smart. I did some deleting, time-shifting and fading. I finally played the MP3 for my husband after the 3 HOUR TOUR…
He said, "There is more right?"
Please note…not quite the answer I wanted.
"No." I said.
" I like it," he said noticing my crestfallen face.
Then looking at the clock on the stove he added, "but I thought after all that time there would be more."
However if my Pat Bentar headband could be wrung out there would be buckets of sweat and tears.
- Publish the podcast and share your good work
After another unexpected 3 Hour Tour, I found a site to host my podcast, PodcastFM. I could not get iTunes to work at home and after another 3 Hour Tour I decided to delete my iTunes file. Finally I was able to have a link to my MP3 file without it rerouting itself through an iTunes folder.
- Promote the podcast
- Evaluate and learn from your mistakes
I have learned that podcasting is quite a process. I think that a detailed flow chart would help.
Feed burner continues to be a mystery. I do have a FeedBurner URL but I am unsure how to use that with my blog. I have watched countless tutorials but I must be missing something.
Blogging platforms and hosting sites determine how many steps you will need in the podcasting process. Apparently Wordpress supports podcasts better than Blogger. I was able to create a small basic podcast with a lot of effort. I can imagine that the initial set up experience is the huge hurdle. Even though it was challenging I did figure it out.
Have patience! Expect to spend a lot of time revising the podcast.
Good Morning Edmonton! (Reflections on the Tool for Personal and Social Use)
Each week we try on these new tools and hope for a fit. Podcasting was the most difficult for me but also, so far, the most rewarding. I love information. I read everything, on every wall of every room that I am in. Podcasts have opened up the door for professional development in most areas of my life.
Originally, I had planned to make a podcast of my daughter reading her book. Unfortunately when retrieving the digital file through Audacity, the audio sounded like a dolphin. However the experience of recording her reading was still valuable. The following are the benefits:
For my daughter:
excitement in hearing her own voice
increased motivation as she realized she was being recorded
discovering additional meaning in repeated readings
being able to see how she solves words, engages with the story
enjoying the conversation as she read, laughing at her new discoveries
discovering more of her reading behaviors after listening to the playback than during the first recording
There is a plethora of podcast directories on the internet. Most have additional links to i-Tunes. I explored the Learn Out Loud podcast directory. This directory further subdivides into a childrens' podcast directory which led me to a Videopodcasts on PBSkids. As a reading specialist, I know that the video accompaniment of the audio facilitates better understanding for children. I think it would be interesting to take stills of book and have my daughter provide the audio. This would also be a great gift for a long distance relative.
An additional feature that I appreciate is the podcasts that are offered to you based on others who may have also chosen that podcast. After selecting one podcast, I discovered links to other reading and writing podcasts. Book clubs are all the rage but if you are still waiting to join one, here is a link to Slate's Audio book club. I think it would be interesting to listen to these discussions with a group of people after reading the book and process the variety of perspectives. A book club might even consider recording and podcasting their own book talks. In addition many of the books listed on Slate's Audio Book Club are on my bookshelf of shame, ie. books I am ashamed to admit that I have not read. Having these audio talks will make it an enjoyable experience and an incentive to empty my shelf. Woodard (2009) states that one of the benefit of podcasts is that they allow you to catch up. No kidding!
The Olympic break has halted all regular TV and movie programming. Being the ultimate movie buff, I have discovered a podcast on Podcast Alley that focuses on discussing movies. The "husband" agreed to give it a try. Double Feature is a podcast that is like a book club, but substitute in two movies at once. Each host chooses a movie that they have seen 100 times but the other has not. Then they both watch both movies back to back. I rarely get a chance to delve into deeper film discussions so I enjoyed the experience. In addition I think that this can be a model for other subjects, like a podcast comparing two different web tools, ie. De.licio.us vs Diigo.
Panday (2009) suggests that there are three types of podcasts, personal, public and professional. Private would be my daughter's home reading, public my Top 7 reason podcast and professional would be a focused look at a literacy topic. I see value in balancing the creation of podcast among these three.
I will continue to subscribe and listen to podcasts for professional development in the car. My commutes are often lengthy. Another goal would be utilizing podcasts in my professional development sessions. In addition I plan to use my digital recording device to record my thoughts and give legitimacy to talking to myself in the car.
Hey Mr. DJ! Put a Podcast On! I Want to Dance With My Baby
(Reflections on the Tool for Educational Use)
While brainstorming for ideas for this section, I thought "What is podcasting?" Although it can be accompanied with video and images, it always involves audio. Looking through a literacy lens, how can podcasts enhance or extend the learning process?
Solomon & Schrum (2007) further suggests that students use podcasts to keep notes, express opinions and reflections on daily lessons. Jacobs (2010) supports podcasts for the reason that of all the strands, "the striking lack of attention to a specific modality in language capacity building-that is speech" (p.47). Jacobs (2010) continues, stating that there are many speaking genres to develop using podcasts such as: debates, lectures, documentaries, interviews etc.
Utilizing podcasts in the classroom, allows teachers to address all six strands. I subscribed to a Poem of the Day podcast. It opened up in my windows media player. The visuals are the default psychedelic ones that remind me of the Wolfman on the Hillarious House of Frankenstein. It occurred to me that students could use pre-made podcasts, such as the Poem of the Day and collect images from Flickr to match. Hamilton (2009) adds when creating poetry podcasts students " took risks with the art form, experimenting with line breaks, word choice, and theme" (p.1).
I was searching out podcasts for my personal and professional use, often these interests overlap. I have heard of Grammar Girl but had not listened to a podcast. Recently, she posted on the misuse of the pronouns You and I in the Olympic Theme song (episode #209). These podcasts would enhance the classroom experience and provide "glamour to grammar". I think students could focus on literary devices and use these as the basis for their own podcasts, with audio accompaniments from books or song lyrics to emphasize the meaning.
Podcasts offer the opportunity to differentiate instruction. Reading at grade level is a challenge for many students, but if they had access to podcasts of their textbooks they could follow along. In addition if posted to a classroom website, parents would also have access to the text to support their children. Often parents feel they cannot help as much as they would like because they do not have access to the text.
There is collaborative aspect to podcasting. Pairs or groups of students can combine their efforts to create a podcast. Schmidt (2007) adds that "students develop interpersonal negotiation skills as they help make strategic decisions about what to cover, how to organize ideas and best communicate them to their audience" (p. 4).
Persuasive writing takes many forms but the common denominator is audience. Podcasts force students to consider the final product in relation to the eventual audience. They have to research information, establish tone, experiment with vocabulary, speak clearly in order to grab and maintain attention. The additional aspect of publishing podcasts on the net creates an incentive to produce great work. Richardson (2008) suggests that posting online also connects students with other users that might share in their passions. What better way to inspire a young DJ?
Field trips have the opportunity to incorporate podcasts. Dlott (2007) describes walking tour podcasts which contain detailed descriptions of the buildings and related facts. Although, I think students don't have to necessarily leave the school building. Posted on a school website, in-school walking tours offer the opportunity for students to lead their parents and possibly new students through their schools.
Harris & Rea (2009) state that podcasting is an ideal classroom tool because "they can be played using laptop computers, iPods, PDAs, mobile phones, MP3 players, or other portable devices."(p.2). Often schools cite lack of technology as a barrier to Web 2.0, but more students are coming to school already equipped with iPods, iPhones and even laptops.
Cousins (2007) suggests using podcasts to enrich the literacy culture in a school by having principals and teachers make podcasts about their favorite books. This would be a great activity to coincide with a Book of the Month or celebrating Read In Week.
The current education budget is forcing a new look to the present delivery of professional development. Eash (2006) would suggest that the benefits of using podcasts are cost effective and in addition accessible whenever, wherever. Quite often administrators require additional support for their teachers, if a consultant is not available a podcast would be.
Weller, Bickar & McGuinness (2008) suggest that a possible negative to podcasts are that they focus the listener inward. Perhaps if the user is only downloading, not creating or commenting online, this tool can have similarities to audio files. However I think that it is this aspect of podcasting that I savor, the ability to fill in dead time or co-exist in spaces with others where you need to isolate and focus. We need to recognize that these new tools are to support all learners and respect the different entry points and comfort zones of all users.
Sprague & Pixley (2008) suggest that the process of learning how to podcast and amount of time required to create a podcast can be an issue however, I think if an educator embraces the tool and chooses to lean towards the many positive outcomes, podcasting is not a waste of time. This is one of those tools that fit so naturally with the curriculum and must not be overlooked.
So now that I have my own channel and established my inner Johnny Fever, I seek to spread the word…I'd like teach the world to podcast in perfect harmony…
Until next time…Lit Maven OUT!
Non Linked Resources
Cousins, D. (2007). Exploring school library 2.0 tools in an elementary setting. Unpublished master's capping paper, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta. Canada.
Dlott, A. (2007). A (Pod)cast of thousands. Educational Leadership, 64(7), 80-82. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Eash, E. (2006). Podcasting 101 for k-12 librarians. Computers in Libraries, 26(4), 16-20. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Jacobs, H.H. (2010). Curriculum 21 essential education for a changing world. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Hamilton, B. (2009). Poetry goes 2.0. Library Media Connection, 28(1), 26-27. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Harris, A., & Rea, A. (2009). Web 2.0 and Virtual World Technologies: A Growing Impact on IS Education. Journal of Information Systems Education, 20(2), 137-144. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Panday, P. (2009). Simplifying Podcasting. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 20(2), 251-261. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Richardson, W. (2008). Footprints in the digital age. Educational Leadership, 66(3), 16-19. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Schmit, D. (2007). Creating a broadcasting empire...from the corner of your classroom. MultiMedia & Internet@Schools, 14(1), 13-16.
Solomon G. and Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0: New tools, new schools. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.
Sprague, D., & Pixley, C. (2008). Podcasts in education: Let their voices be heard. Computers in the Schools, 25226-234. Retrieved from ERIC database
Weller, A., Bickar, J., & McGuinness, P. (2008). Making field trips podtastic! Use of handheld wireless technology alleviates isolation and encourages collaboration. Learning & Leading with Technology, 35(6), 18-21. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Woodard, A. (2009). From zero to web 2.0: Part 1. Computers in Libraries, 29(8), 41-42. Retrieved from ERIC database.