Monday, March 15, 2010

The idea behind podcasting

Podcasting is a great way to keep up with audio and video files created and managed through the use of computers. If you have heard this term before, but have never tried to get to the bottom of it, here's the chance to learn what this term really is and what it practically means:

Friday, April 3, 2009

What can I podcast about?

Once you've got your mind set on podcasting, nothing can come in your way! Pick any topic and you can podcast about it. Whether it is retelling a story or conducting a survey, whether it is a discussion about why schools should be open all summer and closed during the winter or a speech about global warming - it's all good for podcasting. Potentially, think of something that students would be proud to communicate to their friends, teachers, parents and the world. They might like to share what they learnt about non-fiction texts or about the result of a contest they participated in! It could be as simple as recording what they did for an art lesson or as big as putting together an entire radio show.
To begin with, you might want to play a model for them to hear. Once they get a hang of what a good podcast looks like and what they would like to do differently, just hand them the microphones and get them to go. Of course, they also need to plan everything out and that might be another teachable and markable point. You will love it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why bother?

Podcasting sounds interesting but what's the value after all? Do I really need to bother trying out yet one more thing while I have such a full plate already?

If you hear yourself asking these questions and are wondering what's in podcasting for educators, then read on!

Have you encountered students who can perform exceptionally well, but stage fear grips them in front of a large audience? Well, every classroom has a few of this variety. Then there are others who're not their best with a paper and pencil, but will be able to retell the entire concept or story - adding their own opinions and stating rare facts alongside - verbally! Imagine the power of putting a microphone in front of these students and letting them express themselves in a corner of the room. Multiple intelligences taken care of right then and there! A unique instructional as well as assessment strategy to respect the differences in each individual!

In case you hadn't heard the term yet, students of the generation we're teaching these days are being increasingly addressed as Digital Natives! These kids have always been around the internet, digital cameras, video games, Playstations and other fascinating pieces of technology. In the classroom, when the teacher hands out worksheets to fill out, some of their groans are almost audible! But the 21st century teacher waves in the direction of the computers (or the computer lab) while telling them when they're project is due. Immediately, they start thinking about their work! Instant motivation and the problems of classroom management solved in a jiffy!

With televisions, radios, I-Pods and the internet being the decisive elements in the life of youngsters, educators shoulder a huge responsibility to impart media literacy skills. Access to a computer with microphones and headphones which the students use to create their own radio shows and listen to what students in other parts of the world are doing, takes care of the responsibility while helping in the development of higher-order thinking skills!

In the present educational system, podcasting is a wonderful way of "getting things done" while keeping students interested at the same time! There's no end to possibilities with podcasting. If you think of more, add them on in your comments!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Beginner's podcast!

So, you're all ready to try out podcasting at school but just don't know how and where to start?

Well, I found myself in the same situation a few months ago. I felt comfortable about introducing podcasting in school but just wasn't sure about how to begin. Being a computer lab teacher, I get to see all the classes twice in every cycle. Although my gut said I needed to try it out with my grade 5s - our highest, yet I didn't want to get them started on something that they could find easy to fool around with. As it is, a 40 minute period is not enough for their research and typing up of projects.

So, I started a computer club! Instead of a sign-up for the club, I chose to send an invitation to about 8 students from Grade 4 and 5, who I thought were well equipped with basic computer skills. We met twice every week during lunch-time and I showed them some how-to videos, demonstrated the use of Audacity and Movie Maker on the projector and gave them all a computer to work on individually. As they played around on the programs, I came up with an idea to put their skills together!

Our school focuses on a value every month and so we decided to come up with a Respect podcast in which they all recited and recorded a part of a poem that I found on the internet and selected pictures that would go with their words. They saved it all on a common folder and when they were all done, we put it all together on Movie Maker!

A week later, at our Respect-focus Assembly in front of the whole school, the proud computer club showed off their work to an applauding audience! Was simple but powerful. Their work is still up on our blog: Corliss Respects!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Music for your podcast?

Wouldn't it be really nice if you could give some background music to your podcast? Or, would you like an audio track as a filler between sections of your podcast? It is all possible.When inserting music from a commercial clip, we need to be very careful of copyright and privacy issues. You can't really mix and match the music created by other people for your own purpose. A good place to find music that is safe for podcasting could be Podsafe Audio. The tracks are licensed under Creative Commons and are submitted by composers who give you the right to use them for podcasting purposes. The collection is vast. So, check it out. You might really find what you were looking for!

Thinking of podcasting?

If you are impressed by the term "podcasting" and are ready to try it out with your class, here's a link that might come in handy:

Designed by a US teacher, it contains information for teachers as well as students. Simple to complex questions might all be answered for you in the "Lesson Resources" section where further links to some great podcasting resources are included.

So, cast your pod and go...!

Pod what? Casting What?

Podcasting! The term scared me off about a year ago and now I run Corliss Designs - my own podcasting blog with my students' work up! Technology is really advancing the world in leaps and bounds. Podcasting is basically a way to publish self-created media on to the web for others to see. Usually, it is done through a blog created for that purpose. These days podcasting is classified as Audio Podcasting and Video Podcasting. Audio podcasts are limited to playback of sound recordings while video podcasting is usually done through putting pictures together and adding sound to it for the complete effect. Some readily available softwares used for podcasting are:
  • Audacity: A free downloadable tool; very user-friendly; lets students record their voices in groups or individually. Parts of the recording can be deleted, amplified, faded in or out and modified in other cool ways. You can actually lift parts of the recording and place them where you want to get the free-flowing audio clip that you want. You will then be able to save it as MP3 and your clip is ready to be published on the web.
  • Microsoft Movie Maker: Comes by default in most computers; lets you insert pictures of student work (or pictures you wish to use in your podcast). Then you can record voices in a timeline frame in the background or add pre-recorded sound clips. Save in movie format (.wav) and your video podcast is ready!
  • Kidpix (if your school has access to it) also has a provision for slide shows with sound recording, which can then be imported in Quick Time format.

    Really, if you have the will, you will do it. Cameras, voice recorders, cellphones - can all do the job if you think about it.