Playing With Podcasts: A Break Time Project

I have been exploring and using Podium , Softease's educational podcasting solution for the past few months with my primary age students. As a classroom solution it was launched at just the right time for us, I had excitedly discussed podcasting and some of the roles we might be able to develop for it with our Literacy Coordinator in September last year. I spent what seemed like an age, actually trying to come to grips with how we might enable the process to be used with students, and managed by novice teacher users, playing with Audacity and Garageband for myself, before a visit to BETT in January and a chance to explore at first hand this easy to use all in one Podcast Production and Publication platform.

The process that preceded the launch of Podium, placed me firmly in the learner's chair. Making and recording the MP3 files was straightforward enough. I could use Audacity, plug in a mike or headhone mike to my PC, create a quick script, rehearse it and then pressing the record button off I went. The resultant MP3 file exported from Audacity could then be hyperlinked to webpages on the school website, and uploaded for download to be played in a media player, such as Real Player, Microsoft Media Player or iTunes, or copied to play on any MP3 player. There it was or so I thought an instant podcast.

What I was to learn as I continued to explore the medium was that this was not the be all and end all of podcasting. What I had produced was a downloadable audio file. In order to access these, our listeners would have to revisit the pages I had linked them from regularly to seek updates and download these each time. What we needed to turn these files into a "podcast" proper was a way of linking these together as episodes, enabling our listeners (or viewers) to gain access to or be informed of updates to our publications automatically as we made and uploaded them. This process known as "subscription," requires what is known as an RSS feed. This is where my limited experiences with web 2.0 technologies to date brought me to a grinding halt. It is also one of the main reaosns why Podium is such a great tool for use in schools. Having produced your MP3 files in Podium, when you publish your files, the feed file is also generated, or updated and published at the same time to your online space, and a link provided that can be either copied and pasted to your website, or that can be circulated your readership by email.

Using a tool called an aggregator such as iTunes or Juice, sometimes also called "podcatchers," you can copy and paste the feed's address, when you log on to the web, these tools can be used to check for and download updates to the Podcasts you have subscribed to, listen to or watch regularly.

Visiting the sites of other Bloggers such as Joe Dale, and John Sutton, have lead me to really think further about the potential this medium has not only for students but for teachers too, and from a personal professional development perspective, lead me to wonder how I might be able to use the ideas behind podcasting to support and perhaps extend learning in and beyond the school day.

Yesterday I spent planning my theme on Tudor Bristol, for next term with my new teaching partner, and as we looked through some of the resources we had available came across some nice material, that I thought students might enjoy listening to as stories. I used Audacity yesterday evening to record these, thinking that on return to school I could import these MP3s to Podium and upload these. However as is my wont, my mind has begun wandering and returned to how I could publish these as part of a podcast experiment from home. I began by searching this morning for free podcast hosting sites, when I came across Jason Van Orden's site which he says is "The definitive step-by-step guide on how to podcast without breaking the bank." I have to say that I really enjoyed reading the content, and particuarly his free solution to producing a podcast beginning here. He has included step by step videos, for
  • creating your Blogger blog,
  • setting up your feedburner account
  • creating an "our media" account to save your podcast files to
  • uploading your files
  • creating show notes
  • adding subscription links and so on.

He wants the space to be accessible, and has limited and removed a great deal of jargon.

Having my own webspace, I am planning to explore how I can use this to host my audio files, while following, the process he outlines for using Blogger and Feedburner, to generate the subsciption feeds. For this I have created a new Blog space for the timebeing called "Learning To Podcast," This space is very much a CPD experiment for me, but one I hope will help me explore further the role of Podcasting in teaching and learning .

1 comment:

Mr Harrington said...

Simon - excellent to hear about your forray into podcasting - I would recomend Podomatic as a host for your podcast - it has 500mb free space for podcasts - I run my podcast there and our class podcast both sites are using material recorded using Audacity... even though I have Garageband on my Mac!!!!