Archive | December 2007

Pondering Podcasts

I am feeling with my experiences in the eLearning Web2.0 class that my background is a mile wide and an inch deep. I have dallied with so many read-write web tools and yet I do not feel expert in any. Podcasting is right up there at the top of the list. It is not such a difficult thing to do, in my opinion, at least tech-wise. But the problem is time-wise. Being somewhat of a perfectionist doesn’t help matters either.

I started last February with my first podcast, using GCast mainly because I liked the idea of being able to use the phone to upload a message, and that is exactly what I did for my first podcast. I can’t tell you how many times I re-recorded my voice. Then I became more daring and experimented with a microphone, and improved my Audacity abilities. Even got the nerve to add a little intro and outtro theme music. But I was never completely satisfied with the end result and edited to death.

I began to appreciate the learning applications when I decided to create podcasts for my Spanish students as end of the year reviews. I created three separate podcasts, and in a sense there was a visual element to them, because I placed review activities on the web page for them to view while listening to my voice explain the sentence and the grammar concepts. I was pleased with the results of that. That website is no longer in existence, though the podcasts are still in my player at the olphazul podcast site. I created a separate channel for the Spanish classes. Now how many students actually listened? Well, let’s not go there! I haven’t posted anything for a while, but I have an embedded player on my site. I prefer embedding the player rather than taking them away from the teacher website.I am particularly impressed with Radio WillowWeb as an example of student podcasting in the curriculum. It is evident that the students are well-rehearsed and are very enthusiastic about their roles. Also Mabry Middle School in Georgia has very polished vodcasts which might be the envy of any school. Seems like it is a great PR vehicle for their school as well, though I would love to know what goes into each vodcast before it appears!

I have 2 issues that I need to resolve: 1- the time factor and 2- the permission factor.

Our class size ranges from 30-35 students and half of them are in the computer lab at a time. I have taken time to record student voices outside of my scheduled class time, but that keeps me from accomplishing other pressing tasks that I would have done during that time. Most recently I recorded several students reading a segment of their “guinea pig project” that fourth grade does every year. Then at the end recorded 2 students acting as radio emcees to intro each segment. This involved a rearranging a lot of sound tracks in audacity, but I started to become pretty good with that. Where is the podcast now? Well, no where now, because I have not uploaded it anywhere. I have not given a specific permission slip for podcasting and in a diocesan workshop I recently attended many of the others said they would never post student voices without having parents sign a permission form. (Mind you only first names are used anyway.) My principal, however, sees no harm in just uploading the cast without a separate form. What to do?

For that concurrent workshop in which I am participating, I plan to scan some of their drawings and try the vodcasting angle. Then of course, do I juggle who recorded, whose drawings were included, who is being left out?

Below are some resources I am sharing from the CAPE podcast/vodcast sessions. Maybe they will be helpful to some of you.

Educational Podcast Examples
Stanford University
Lehigh University

Mr. Coley’s Studycast
Student planning for the ColeyCast
Social Studies
Colonial Williamsburg
History According to Bob
Audio Tours of Rome
National Geographic – Walks of a Lifetime
ELA/Literature/Audio Books
Open Culture
NASA Podcasts
National Geographic – Wild Chronicles
Ed Tech Musician
World Languages/ESL
Teach with Grace
Kidcast – podcast about using podcasts in Education

Podcast Evaluation
Evaluation Checklist – Kathy Schrock