Thing 7: Podcasting and Screencasting

Several years ago I was first introduced to podcasting, or more accurately, I discovered a podcasting module in the online communication system used by the district. (This system also provides email, web page, file sharing services.) At that time, I had only heard of podcasting, so I took the opportunity to dig deeper to find out what this was all about. This was the start of my adventures with podcasting.

I created my first podcast recording using this online communication system. It allowed me to capture the spoken word and it put this recording onto a simple web page with an RSS script. It was a turnkey solution that created a very utilitarian, Spartan product that, while functional, sure was not very pretty. I knew that I could probably do a lot better. I soon found Audacity, open source sound recording software, and a cheap headset microphone. Shortly afterwards I discovered Apple’s GarageBand (with all kinds of filters and sound effects) and a program to create RSS feeds (FeedForAll). Together with my knowledge of web page design and some space on the web server, I had the tools to create some serious podcasts.

I picked up two books on podcasting (Secrets of Podcasting by Bart G. Farkas and Podcasting for Dummies by Tee Morris and Evo Terra) to learn about podcasting techniques. These resources described podcasts as collections of audio or video files, found on a web site with an RSS feed for delivery of the media files. I soon learned that an online podcast program could be either be designed as a serial or a monographic publications. Farkas also indicated that a podcast creator could use hyperlinks or other methods for sharing one’s recordings. Several other books (see below) describe podcasting in K12 as the creation of media files that could easily be put onto the Internet.

With these tools and this background knowledge, I pursued a two-pronged approach to podcasting at my school. I would produce a podcast program and I would demonstrate how podcasting could be integrated into the curriculum. My program is called the Visitor Showcase Podcast, and together with classroom teachers, we interview guests that are invited to our school to work with our students. This is the 6th year of this program and we have had a lot of fun with it. While primarily audio, I have done some video recordings as part of this program. This podcast can also be found on iTunes. In the classroom, we use either iPods with mics or pocket digital video cameras to capture audio or video recordings of students’ learnings. One of the Spanish teachers has her students use podcasting technologies to demonstrate their learnings. I was once told by her that sometimes students will re-record the same lesson several times because they were not satisfied with their initial recordings. We have also recorded student poetry as part of the creative writing class, creation stories as part of mythology class, and historical narratives as part of a social studies class.

Most recently, I have also learned about screencasting as an instructional tool. I use Camtasia 2 because it allows me to easily annotate my movie files and create captions. My screencasts can be found on YouTube.

People have responded enthusiastically when I describe how we use podcasting at my school. In addition to working with the students, I have lead workshops on podcasting through our Teachers Center and at the state-wide conference organized by the Section of School Librarians of the New York State Library Association. These podcasting technologies, techniques, and skills can easily be incorporated into other classes like physics, business communications, public speaking, music theory, media creation, and script writing. Podcasting can be lots of fun and I am enjoying this adventure in my library media center.

For additional information about how podcating and screencasting can be used in education, see:

Berger, Pam and Sally Trexler. Choosing Web 2.0 Tools for Learning and Teaching in a Digital World. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2010.

Farkas, Bart G. Secrets of Podcasting: Audio Blogging for the Masses (2 ed.). Berkely, CA: Peachpit, 2006.

Morris, Tee and Evo Terra. Podcasting for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2006.

Notess, Greg R. Screencasting for Libraries. Chicago: ALA TechSource, 2012.

Richardson, Will. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2010.

Shamburg, Christopher. Student-Powered Podcasting: Teaching for 21st-Century Literacy. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education, 2009.

Solomon, Gwen and Lynne Schrum. Web 2.0: How-to for Educators. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education, 2010.

Solomon, Gwen and Lynne Schrum. Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education, 2007.

Verdi, Michael and Ryanne Hodson. Secrets of Videoblogging: Videoblogging for the Masses. Berkely, CA: Peachpit, 2006.

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