For those of you waiting for the Halloween Special, I am sorry to say that it did not happen as planned. The people I was hoping to interview work for a bureaucratic institution and had to go up the chain of command to get permission to appear on the show. Also, they may not have known what a podcast really is. As Robert Burns wrote: "The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray."
Getting back to lost messages, I had the pleasure of talking with Jill Weinberger, Communications Director for the Beaufort County School District. Jill wanted to talk podcasts and I was trying to talk Web 2.0. Unfortunately, the message got hopelessly garbled. I feel that Jill came away from the interview less than satisfied with the answers to her questions. It was my fault. I am trying to integrate podcasts, blogs, wikis, and discussions boards in small pieces at McCracken but I did not follow my own practices when talking with people outside the school. For me, Web 2.0 is an exciting tool for educators to use when they are comfortable with it but I tried to tell the world too much too soon.
According to Wikipedia, a podcast is a multimedia file distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds, for playback on mobile devices and personal computer. Though podcasters' web sites may also offer direct download or streaming of their content, a podcast is distinguished from other digital audio formats by its ability to be downloaded automatically using software capable of reading feed formats such as RSS or Atom. By-the-way, the New Oxford American Dictionary declared podcasting as the word of the year in 2005. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcasts)
Now ends the theory of podcasts. What can someone actually do with it? That would depend on the creativity of the person producing a podcast. Teacher Bytes started out as a podcasting class project that I have kept going. I figured if it worked for Federal Express, then it might work for me. Also, if I am going to recommend podcasting to teachers to use with students then I should be willing to do a podcast as well. Doing a podcast on teachers' concerns worked well for me. At the school level, I have seen and heard podcasts done by principals telling audiences what is going on at their schools. Students have produced podcasts giving updates on happenings in their school. Teachers and students have collaborated to produce podcasts that explain various concepts as a lesson extension or projects that demonstrates learning. One of my favorite podcasts, Geek!ed!, is a group of district techies getting together and discussing various technologies and how it affects their schools and education in general. Again, the message is there are many possibilities for podcast use.
Over the last few weeks, I have worked with teachers at McCracken on how to use various technologies in their lessons. It is my primary job and one that I love. You can hear various podcasts on the school's podcast site Bulldog Barks. The easiest way to find it is to do a search on iTunes. It is also found at the McCracken Middle School website which can be found starting at www.beaufort.k12.sc.us. Once you find your podcasts, make sure you subscribe to them so you can hear them when they come out and you won't have to keep going back to the site to find them. That is a story for another day.
If you are near Bluffton, SC and wish for me to talk more about podcasting, please let me know. If it can be arranged with my work schedule I am always accommodating because ideas on helping our children succeed should not be kept secret.