#21 (WEEK 9) Podcasts: iPod not required

The word podcast is used to refer to a non-musical audio or video broadcast that is distributed over the Internet. What differentiates a podcast from regular streaming audio or video is that the delivery method for podcasts is often done automatically through RSS.

In 2005, "podcast" was named the "word of the year" by New Oxford American Dictionary. Podcasts take many forms, from short 1-10 minutes commentaries to much longer in person interviews or panel group discussions. There’s a podcast out there for just about every interest area and the best part about this technology is that you don’t have to have an iPod or a MP3 player to access them. Since podcasts use the MP3 file format, a popular compressed format for audio files, you really just need a PC (or portal device) with headphones or a speaker.

iTunes, the free downloadable application created by Apple is the directory finding service most associated with podcasts, but if you don’t have iTunes installed there are still plenty of options.

For this discovery exercise participants are asked to take a look at some popular podcast directory tools. Do some exploring on your own and locate a podcast that is of interest to you. Once found, you can easily pull the RSS feed into your blog reader (i.e., Bloglines or Google Reader) account as well, so that when new casts become available you’ll be automatically notified of their existence.

Podcasts have great potential for the classroom. Creating ‘radio’ requires students to write ‘visually’ so that the listener can ‘see’ the action without the use of pictures. Creating podcasts can meet many of the language arts standards that require concise language, interviewing, speaking and listening and research. Be sure to include your Teacher-Librarian when you create lessons requiring research and steps necessary to teaching information gathering skills.

Discovery Exercises:
  1. Take a look at one or two of the podcast directories listed and see if you can find a podcast that interests you. See if you can find some interesting educational podcasts here like book reviews or college lectures.
  2. Add the RSS feed for a podcast to your blog reader account.
  3. Create a blog post about your discovery process. Did you find anything useful here?
Discovery Resources:
Curriculum Connections:
  • Idea #1: Interview candidates for local office, or town officials about top issues in your community. Air their interviews alongside those of students.
  • Idea #2: Create a daily school news podcast, including an issue of the day such as copyright/music downloading/file sharing, Internet safety tips, or newest web 2.0 applications. School news podcasts can include jokes, stories, a daily history fact, puzzles, and other fun items of interest to students. Don't forget student surveys such as: Should we have a dress code; Should the school sell sodas or reinforce a healthy food policy; How many hours of homework should there be each week day?
  • Idea #3: Language Learners [English Language Learners or Foreign Language Learners] can interview each other in their chosen language. Student can then listen to the interviews in class and translate, or discuss, or continue the conversation. You could make this a ‘round robin’ conversation with the recorder going around the whole class and everyone contributing.
  • Idea #4: Create oral history podcasts. Allow students to take home voice recorders to tape family members stories.
  • Idea #5: Create a tour of the school for new students. This is an excellent job for an activities / leadership class.
Do you want to learn how to be a podcaster ? (Here are optional Resources for those who want to learn to create podcasts)
Suggested "tags" or labels: podcasts, audio