1:1 Teachers: Have you tried podcasting?

Back in the late fall of 2004—yes!, just over ten years ago—I started podcasting for Goochland County Public Schools. These were audio-only. Some podcasts were conversations with then superintendent, Frank Morgan. The main idea behind the podcast was to highlight the good things we were doing with technology in our schools.

Today, TechTimesLive is still updated, albeit more slowly than before. With 167 episodes, there is a considerable amount of content I have pushed out, online, with a focus changing to providing professional development videos.

What’s special about podcasting?

Podcasts are one form of serialized, creative communications. It’s more of a delivery method than media, but we tend to think of podcasts as audio or video files that we can listen to using a mobile device like an iPod or a phone. But what’s interesting is the process involved in creating these files and the potential for a world-facing audience once they are published.

You see, podcasts (and here I need to be specific) are like television shows, a magazine, a blog, or a YouTube channel. It’s an umbrella container for episodes. Just like a magazine has multiple articles (or a regular column, month to month), a blog has posts, and a YouTube channel has multiple videos, a podcast is organized around a topic with multiple takes on that topic.

Why might I start a podcasting project with students?

Podcasting in the classroom can take some time, which is why, in a 1:1 environment, podcasting becomes a new type of homework assignment. The key is—students will love making podcasts if we can focus the series on something students want to know about. There has to be a little passion behind the theme of the podcast, otherwise, producing episodes will feel like tedium and an audience beyond the teacher will be less likely…

When you produce episodes in a podcast, you have to be organized, know what you are talking about, and polish your presentation. In my recent effort in producing a new podcast outside of work, I thought it would be easy. But when I set out to actually do an episode, suddenly, I realized it was more work. But it was still fun. And after I recorded each episode, I knew a lot more about the topics I had chosen to focus on in each 20-minute episode.

How important is the audience?

We don’t play television sitcoms on TVs in forests where there are only birds and trees. An audience is important, but it does not have to be huge one. As Chris Anderson taught is in his 2006 book The Long Tail, there is a huge amount of diversity in interests out there, and published podcasts, I believe, are likely to be of interest to somebody. For students, that can be a peer, a relative, or even a stranger who shares a similar interest with the student.

How do I get started?

Share some examples. You might start by making it one choice in several for a student, not everyone is required to make their own show. Some students may choose to work together, and that’s fine. While the iTunes Podcast Directory (open iTunes Store and click to Podcasts) has ton of examples of podcasts, you might also share the video episodes put together by Super-Awesome Sylvia.

Does it have to be a podcast?

No. The point here is serialized creative communications. More examples can be found in YouTube videos produced by teenagers and college students, blogs, live streams of video game playing, a really cool Flickr account, and more. The point is, we get into a habit with our communication, sharing in a somewhat regular fashion, as a way to share, but also teach ourselves more about something that matters to us. While 1:1 technology is not required, it’s a pretty awesome use of our devices, and a good reason personalize learning.

For more on using GarageBand to produce a podcast with iPad, visit this online tutorial for some tips!