The power of podcasts!
Podcasting is a relatively new term which refers to the episodic publishing of audio and video digital media via the internet. This mode of content delivery is highly convenient for content consumers and producers. The process simplifies the delivery of episodic content by allowing the consumer to subscribe to the podcast and receive it automatically and immediately upon its release. This process is facilitated by a podcast feed, which tells the consumer’s podcatching software how to retrieve the digital media associated with the podcast. Podcatching software such as iTunes will automatically download the digital media to the consumer’s computer. Other software such as Google Reader will index the podcast “post” and allow the user to view the digital content if they are connected to the internet. Podcasts may be viewed from a computer or a portable device such as a Smart Phone or tablet. Unlike watching television or listening to the radio live, podcast subscriptions allow consumers to receive content that they are interested in without being subjected to other content they have no interest in.
From a teacher’s perspective, podcasting can be used in a variety of different ways to support learning. For example, podcasts could be used to inform parents and others about the activity of a class, as a supportive learning resource, within the context of a specific learning activity, or as a means to share knowledge and experience with fellow colleagues locally and globally. Today, many teachers are looking far beyond the reaches of their local professional community of colleagues to continue their professional education, keep their teaching fresh and new, and strengthen their presence as a teaching professional. The networked professional relies upon popular social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, blogging platforms such as WordPress and Blogger, and other means of textual, audio, and video communication such as Wiki’s, YouTube, and web sites. Podcasting is a wonderful way to create and publish content that is interrelated and appropriate for publishing as a series. While the work of podcasting may seem daunting at first, once you actually delve into it, you will come to realize how easy it is and how fruitful your product can be for your target audience and others. Podcasting can be a refreshing motivator in many ways.
From the student or consumer perspective, podcasts are both convenient and enjoyable. The experience of consuming podcasts is very much like that of using TIVO with your television. You can pick and choose exactly what you want and then listen to and/or watch the content when, where, and how you want. For students, this is wonderful because it allows them to experience learning in a way that offers greater depth than reading text from a book and the convenience of experiencing it within an environment that they find comfortable and at a time they find suitable. A student is not subject to the distractions which are often present within a classroom. In addition, the student is able to review the learning content as many times as they wish. They are able in some ways to cater the learning experience to their specific needs. What is lacking within this form of learning is live social communication and collaboration. However, this means has an appropriate place within the context of a teacher/class relationship and can append more traditional learning in effective ways. Lastly, for students wishing to broaden their horizons, having the ability to seek out sources of teaching and learning from other teachers via the internet is so wonderful. If one teacher sparks a students’ interest in science, why stop learning within the classroom? Via the web, the student can delve deeply into their interests and do so in a more human and social fashion by tuning into podcasts.
Podcasts can be located in several different ways. If you are an iTunes user, you can look up and subscribe to podcasts within the software. You can also locate podcasts by performing simple web searches. Try searching for “podcast directory” and see what turns up! You will find that there are general directories as well as focused directories. There is a wealth of podcast media out there just waiting to be explored. Dive into the world of learning through podcasts today! Pick a podcast reader and start searching, listening, and subscribing! You might find that it changes your routine instantly! Rather than letting your brain idle while driving or before going to bed at night, tune into quality content that can enrich your life!
I personally recommend using Google Reader to subscribe to and listen to podcasts. It supports selective downloading of podcast audio for offline listening. If you prefer offline listening, I recommend looking into a desktop application such as Juice. To create a podcast, you can use a number of different tools. Within EDTS523, we recently used Garage Band, an application that is preloaded onto Mac computers. Some tools perform straight forward recording while others support the insertion of sound effects, music, and visuals. It might be worth trying out a few different tools to see which is best for you! Happy podcasting!