Waffling through and clarifying Some "Web 2.0" thoughts...

This morning I found a really useful working definition that has helped me clarify in my own mind anyway the difference between a podcast and a series of uploaded audio files, on a website. It may seem of little consequence, but terms do tend to get bandied around quite freely, and often in my experience become blurred as we say we are doing one thing when in actual fact we are doing something quite different. If we intend to embed ICT, within our wider curricular, it strikes me as important that we as educators or " more knowledgeable others" are as familiar with and accurate in our use of the terms we use in ICT as we are in other curricular areas.

Wikipaedia defines a podcast like so

A podcast is a digital media file, or a series of such files, that is distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and personal computers... Though podcasters' web sites may also offer direct download or streaming of their content, a podcast is distinguished from other digital media formats by its ability to be syndicated, subscribed to, and downloaded automatically, using an aggregator or feed reader capable of reading feed formats such as RSS or Atom.

I had this explained to me once during a session at uni, but have struggled since to formulate it in a way I can share with colleagues. This framework seems quite a useful one not only for podcasting but for framing discussions about the difference between the host of currently existing so called "Web 2.0" technologies and those that went before.

Having said this, I have begun integrating year group blogs, and a couple of others into our school website from the point of view of trying to develop ownership of its content. To engage colleagues I have presented them initially as a kind of hybrid between a desktop publisher/wordprocessor and email, where they can apply existing skills, and to promote them as easily updateable web sites, tools that can be used to share ongoing classroom activities with the outside world, or structured over time to involve students in logging themes. I recognise that this decries the power and potential that these tools actually have through syndication, and the notion of content coming to us rather than us going to the content, but in the early stages of this process it has and is important for me to get these spaces used, and colleagues and students involved. I have been concerned that if I begin introducing the technological nuances I would lose my colleagues.

However, the above definition seems also a useful starting point to begin exploring and framing future work with colleagues around the differences between other socalled "Web 2.0" technologies and those that went before. In introducing the syndication aspect of these technologies, I might be able for Podcast to Substitute Blog, or Flikr, for digital media substitute web page, bookmarks/favourites, photo gallery etc, for playback on portable media players substitute a host of web enabled technologies, and browsers, eventually substuting the concepts of syndication and aggregation as the basis for sharing and collaboration.

With Blogs particularly I have a leaning towards something I mentioned in an earlier post, the idea of creating a community feed that will enable us to pull together, all our blog content to one place for use as a celebration and sharing point in school assemblies, or a means to keep our stakeholder community up to date through perhaps inclusion of a headline animator in our homepage. Hmm! Something further to ponder on...


John said...

I think you are quite right in the way you are presenting your tools. Most people reading blogs are still reading them online. The power and utility of RSS is obviously growing but it doesn't need to be a starting point for teachers and pupils. For the site editor will be a useful tool to pull together and mix up content, maybe repositioning posts on other pars of your site or using various tools to pull the content together. But the main goodness (imo) is it give the children audience and purpose. RSS will come into its own for teachers, starting with speeding up their reading and taking off from there.
Podcasting is a wee bit different. Apart from the mashability of RSS podcasting makes a huge difference to the size of your audience.
I started putting audio from my class online in 2004, the next year I heard about podcasting and though 'nope can't see the point' even though we were blogging and producing rss there. Pretty quickly I realised it was worth producing a full podcast and getting listed in itunes and it has made a big difference, my class now have a much bigger (worldwide) audience which make their podcasting have a lot more reality and purpose.

Mr Harrington said...

Simon - it is interesting for us all to see the development in our own thinking into how we use/introduce these technologies into our classrooms and our schools. I used last year very much as a trial year to test the boundaries of not only worked with my pupils and the school, but also of course my local authority. My LEA proved very suspicious of blogging and podcasting at the outset, but I hope and believe that I have talked them around ( if not by my arguement, by being persistent!!!!). My Head has been asking me to work on re-developing our school web presence and I am of the opinion now that we use the school e-mail to create multiple blogs - one for each teacher linked back to a small core website containing basic school information and statutory info. It will then be possible to link other things such as podcasts wiki's and google apps to this main hub.
Re Podcasting John's podcasts obviously have a global audience which they have built up over a few years - we have nothing like his subscribers but also found a voice in the world which others wanted to hear and comment on which is a big boost for them.
For blogging with your children do cosider Classblogmeister although I know that you favour at present.
Keep in touch Paul