Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Land Of Podcasting

This week’s adventure is truly a ride into the unknown. I know nothing about Podcasting and look forward to the journey to this new land.


The journey into the land of Podcasting is like visiting a foreign country. I look forward to the intrigue but I am terrified about how it is going to turn out. Podcasting is the popular name for digital audiorecording. Podcasts are media files that can be distributed via the Internet and played on computers or handheld devices, like iPods or other digital audio players ( Jham, Dureas, Strassler, Sensi, 2007). There are many vehicles for digital audiorecording but because of the popularity of iPods this is the most common. Hence the name Podcasting has been coined. Using iPods is commonplace with students because students are more mobile. The idea of having access to information anytime anywhere is very attractive to them (Jham et al, 2007).

Digital audirecording seems relatively straight forward. I started by following the trailfire and listening to some of the Podcasts suggested by Joanne. Some of the Podcasts were intriguing while others were mundane. Upon reflection, it seemed to be not only the relevance of the topic to me that determined my level of engagement but also the enthusiasm of the person delivering the message.

I then read the chapter on Podcasting in Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts (Will Richardson, 2009) and listened to some of the Podcasts suggested in the book. I learned that Podcasts are inexpensive and user friendly to create or access, and simple to use (Jham et al, 2007). I thought I can do this. Anyone can pick a topic, think about a script and with an audio recording device record what they have to say. The person then uploads this recording and voila you are on air. Sounds easy but then so does brain surgery – cut a person open, poke around a bit and sew them up – how hard can it be?

Once again with my imaginery copy of “Podcasting for Dummies” in my hand I began this unfamiliar process. First, I had to write a script. Thinking of a topic that you think others might be interested in is challenging, when you feel your life is dull. For me when in doubt, cover this with humor. Second, for someone who makes their living standing in front of audiences everyday giving directions and explaining processes it is amazing how you can stammer and stutter when you know someone will be hanging on your every word. But I got through that with sweat soaked armpits. Then came the actual publishing process. Oh my!!!!!!! If you are not a techie this can be daunting. I viewed the Common Craft video “Podcasting In Plain English” (2008), the video “How to Embed a Podcast Into Blogger” recommended by Annabelle Pendry, “How to Download Audacity and Lame Encoder To Record Podcasts” (2009) by Tish Washington, read the helpful posts by Bruce and Pam, reread the publishing section of the text by Will Richardson (2009) but still had difficulty. Not one to give up easily (as I tell my students, I do not play games that I can not win) after four hours I triumphed. The fruits of my labor are posted at the end of this blog post. I hope you get a giggle from either the content of the Podcast or the sheer terror in my voice.

I now feel like I can make a couple of Podcasts for personal reasons and then demonstrate this technique to staff, encourage staff to subscribe to PD Podcasts, implement Podcasts in my teaching, have students listen to and create Podcasts and enjoy this new found phenomena myself as I catch up on what is happening on the highway of life..


When I thought about how I could personally use Digital audiorecording I cried. This was a technology that could help me to touch the hearts of two people I love very much, who are slipping away from me. My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a year ago and her progression has been all too quick. Podcasting will allow me to record a quick message that I can send to her. She can then listen to the message over and over, as she forgets what you have said, as soon as it has left your lips. This technology will allow me to connect with her and help my mom to keep us with her if only for a few moments at a time. I hope my dad can help her to mange the technology and she can play it as often as she would like.

For my dad, who suffered a major stroke just shortly before my mom’s diagnosis, it will be about sharing memories of his new great granddaughter. Neither, my mom or dad is able to drive now so we do not get to see them very often. Telephone calls are OK with dad, as long as they are initiated by us, as he still has very limited fine motor skills in his right hand. Being able to share Kaydee’s new voice (just noise now) and eventually rhymes, songs and stories will again help to keep connected. This technology was available before, in the way of audiocassettes and CD’s, but this makes it so much easier that I am sure Kaydee will eventually be creating the recordings herself. Podcasting will be a mutually beneficial journey as it will teach Kaydee about the importance of family connections, remind my own kids about the connection with their grandparents and enhance my parents view into their great-grand-daughter’s and grandchildren’s lives. (Oh did I mention that our family is multiplying as we found out that now our other daughter is expecting.)

As well, I would like to have my dad share his wealth of knowledge of our family history. My dad has spent countless hours researching our family history back twelve generations. With my assistance, his vast historical expertise could be recorded. He would be so proud to share his wisdom knowing that it would be passed down to future generations.

Personally, I have never owned an iPod and have never seen a real need for one. Now I have an iPod as the first item on my list for Christmas gifts. My children, who are all strapped for cash this year, are going to load RSS feeds to music, news, scrapbooking and recipe sites on it for me. (My family is learning too – without having to pay tuition.) Then I can listen to Podcasts in the car, running on the treadmill or getting ready in the morning. I can now be more connected to the global picture and explore issues beyond school, university courses and housework, on my terms and at my convenience. The journey is looking like it will end well.


Digital audiorecording is another Web 2.0 tool that can be used to engage learners in new ways. Students are more inclined to be motivated to participate in learning that is relevant to them. In the article by Catherine Gewetz a boy named Herrara states, “when I step out of school, I have a pretty high-tech life. When I step in school, I feel like I’m not me anymore. I have to jump into this whole old-fashioned thing where everything is restricted” (Gewertz, 2007). Students are engaged in technological pursuits on a daily basis outside school, and yet, when they come to school this technology is not utilized. If we can harness the enthusiasm created by using technology and teach concepts through the student’s medium of preference we can increase learning. Podcasting could be one of these creative ways to engage 21st century learners and build that highway wider, longer and with more overpasses.

To create this highway in the classroom, students can create Podcasts to:
1. demonstrate learning
a. audio books or dramatic productions for their peers or younger students
2. as a method of formative or summative assessment
a. If you can explain it you truly understand it.
3. enhance the learning process for gifted students

To widen the highway in classrooms teachers can create Podcasts to:
1. demonstrate an activity or impart knowledge
a. second language learning
b. science experiment explanation
c. enhance auditory skills

2. scaffold learning
a. for enrichment activities
b. to augment slower learners

To build more overpasses in the classrooms teachers or students can create an archive of concepts explained by students for teaching purposes in the future:
a. for struggling students who did not understand the initial explanation
b. for students who were absent

More interconnecting highways can be created through Podcasts for Profesional development. Accessing Podcasts would help to turn teaching from an “isolating experience to a real on-line community connection” (Nikolov, Roumen, 2007). Staff could access Podcasts to gain knowledge in a new area or further their knowledge in their area of expertise. As well, they could create Podcasts to share knowledge with colleagues and others. For example we had a staff member who created a Podcast of how to use the attendance section of our new Student Information System and then emailed that information to all staff

Highway twinning could be achieved by providing information on the website via Podcast or creating a school wide radio talk show for morning announcements and noon hour entertainment. These activities would allow technology to sparkle and students and teachers to demonstrate how they are keeping up with the technological shift in the global picture.

However, the discussion should focus not only on the creation of Podcasts but also on the use of Podcasts to develop critical listening skills. The increase in visual stimuli in our society is creating learners who rely predominantly on their visual skills. Podcasts are a strategy that could be used in the classroom to enhance the development of auditory skills. Having students critically listen to Podcasts developed by others and then use this knowledge is a powerful motivator to pay attention to what is being said. The modeling of how to create “voice” and impart a message can then be transferred into the creation of their own Podcasts which other students will then be required to critically listen to. I see the use of Podcasts as developing a skill that is under utilized but getting at it by using technology as the motivating factor for students. For as Catherine Gerwitz states, students enjoy using technology that facilitates their learning, uses more learning styles and allows them to be creative (2007).

Many good things could come out of allowing students to use Podcasting Students can learn to develop critical listening skills, develop voice, enhance their individual creativity and increase their connectedness with their immediate and global world. But there are also some possible negative consequences. Staff have to be very careful when allowing students to be on the air. Concerns of confidentiality, appropriateness, innuendo and side jokes are possible pit falls. Inevitably there will be something said or implied that will be questionable no matter how hard a teacher tries to prohibit such action. Teachers just need to be cognizant of these possible areas of concern and do their best to address these possible issues so they hopefully do not happen.

The drawbacks to using any new technology are teacher knowledge (time), access to the technology (money) and teacher motivation (will).The frustration is that none of these are in my control. I need the district to buy the water and the trough, give me the time to fill it up and then I can lead the horses to it and hopefully they will drink.

I know I have benefited from this week’s journey and my school will benefit from it as well. How far the learning will spread is up to the individuals. Let’s hope their Podcasting journey is a bump free ride into a land of vast possibilities.


Gewertz, Catherine. (2007) Outside Interests. As retrieved on Oct. 14, 2009 from

How To Embed A Podcast Into Blogger. As retrieved on Oct. 15, 2009 from

Jham, Bruno. Duraes, Gabriela. Strassler, Howard. Sensi, Luis. (2007) Joining the Podcast Revolution. As retrieved on Oct. 14, 2009 from

Nikolov, Roumen (2007)Towards Web 2.0 Schools: Rethinking the Teachers Professional Development. As retrieved on Oct 14, 2009 from

Podcasting In Plain English (2008). As retrieved Oct 12, 2009 from

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

Washington, Tish (2009). How to Download Audacity and Lame Encoder To Record Podcasts. As retrieved on Oct 15, 2009 from