Monday, March 24, 2008

Of Podcasts and Podcasting

Item #21 in the Learning 2.0/23 Things training focuses on podcasts. I'm quite the fan of both audio podcasts and video podcasts, also known as vodcasts or vlogs.

At the Microcomputers in Education (MEC) conference in March 2005, I attended a session about podcasting conducted by ASU's Guy Mullins. I returned to Palomino Library and told Krissy, my colleague and future TACkies leader, that podcasting was a technology to watch. When iTunes debuted a podcast directory in June 2005, we went to our supervisor, Ted, and asked him to find a way to get the gear we'd need to start podcasting.

Ted located the funding, we bought the gear, and in late October 2006 the DMHS PodSquad, an informal student group that meets in the library after school, recorded and edited their first podcasts. The PodSquad is listed in the iTunes Store's Podcast Directory.

We've learned that podcasting is easier to do on Macintosh computers, although Audacity, a free Open Source audio editing program, is cross platform. We've learned that the fancy USB mics we bought aren't as convenient as either the portable Edirol R-01 MP3 recorder with a 2 GB SD card or the inexpensive Belkin Stereo TuneTalk mics that plug into student iPods. We've taught students all about broadcasting and copyright and Creative Commons licenses.

After two years of extracurricular podcasting, I've lined up funding that will buy a mobile Mac lab so we finally can do, among other nifty Learning 2.0 activities, curricular podcasting. We plan on recording podcasts of conversations our DMHS Spanish students will be having with English students in Chile -- if the technology there will support it.

In the past, I have recorded podcasts of conference presentations and posted them on this blog.

But it's not just about recording, editing, and posting podcasts. I'm an avid listener (and viewer)!

Sorry to veer away from the directions, but I use the iTunes Podcast Directory to track down new ones. Here are SOME of the podcasts I download either regularly or intermittently:

This American Life -- I enjoy this whimsical radio program but usually miss it when it airs on Saturday afternoon. Yes, podcasts of radio shows are rather TiVOesque, but this is a perfect for public radio junkies who can't always catch the shows.

The Writer's Almanac
-- Garrison Keillor's daily podcast covers today in literary history and includes a poem that is usually short, accessible, and enjoyable.

Future Tense is another American Public Media production billed as a "daily journal of the digital age."

The Tech Chicks podcast is a bit amateurish but these two tech teachers help me find great ed tech sites and services that I occasionally blog about on my Information Goddess blog.

TED Talks
-- "inspired talks by the world's greatest thinkers and doers" -- really amp up my brain. They provide some of the best content out there because the speakers are all very accomplished in their respective fields and do have "ideas worth spreading." I think the audio version of this podcast has been discontinued, but the vodcast is alive and kicking.

Library Geeks -- This is one of the intermittent podcasts I download. It's not regularly updated and it's too long in my opinion. However, "library geeks" I respect such as Gary Price and Jessamyn West are interviewed so I cherry pick the episodes. I learned about Zotero from a Library Geek podcast.

RocketBoom -- Watching this wacky program on my video iPod Nano in bed just before I doze off is one of life's guilty pleasures.

DMHS PodSquad
-- OK, I might be a bit biased about this one!

Other podcasts I enjoy include Slate V, Unwired, The Thomas Jefferson Hour, NPR's Story Corps, etc. Although I have a video iPod nano now, the audio podcasts are especially appealing to me because I can download them and listen while I'm doing something else!

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