NOTE: For the sake of simplicity, this "Thing," will focus on audio podcasts, but the concepts apply to video podcasts as well.


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photo by thornj

A podcast is sort of like an online radio show, except the listeners get to decide when and where they want to listen.

The term "podcast" stands for Portable On-Demand Broadcast. And you __**DON'T NEED an iPod**__ to listen to or create a podcast! Having an iPod (or similar portable device) simply makes listening to podcasts (and other media, such as music, audiobooks and videos) really convenient. (Of course, there are tons of ways to use __iPods in education__).

An audio file published to the web does not qualify as a podcast. A podcast consists of an audio file (typically MP3 format) published to the web PLUS an __**RSS feed**__ (XML file). The RSS feed allows listeners to subscribe to the podcast and to automatically receive new episodes in a special type of RSS reader called a podcatcher. In addition to managing your podcast subscriptions and playing the media files, podcatchers can also help you transfer your podcasts to your media player. The most popular podcatcher is __iTunes__, a free program designed to work with iPods, but which also serves as a general media player and organizer, and a huge, searchable podcast directory.

Good to know: You can subscribe to and play podcasts in your __Google Reader__, but it can't help you transfer your media files onto your portable player. If you just want to listen to podcasts on your computer, Google Reader is actually a great option, because it just "points to" the podcast files so that you can play them in the reader, whereas a "true podcatcher" such as iTunes actually DOWNLOADS the media files to your hard drive (so that you can transfer them).

Lucky for us, our friends at CommonCraft have created a "Podcasting in Plain English" video...

Due to CommonCraft's Copyright stance, you must view this video directly from their website: __http://www.commoncraft.com/podcasting__

Here is another excellent introduction to Podcasting video, from PodGrunt. Click the image to view the video on its originating page.
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Link: __http://gruntmedia.com/podgrunt_001_view.html__

Discovery Exercise

The best way to learn about podcasts is to listen to a few of them.

PART 1: Subscribe to the __**Grammar Girl podcast**__ in your Google Reader. (I just want you to experience how to do this).

General instructions for adding a podcast feed to your Google Reader: Locate the Podcast RSS or Subscribe icon (or link) and right-click it, then select Copy Link Location (or Copy Shortcut in IE). Log in to your Google Reader, click Add a Subscription, paste the feed URL and click Add).

‡ HELP Page: __Step-by-Step (Two-minute) Instructions for subscribing to Grammar Girl in your Google Reader__

Grammar Girl Website: __http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/ranges.aspx__

PART 2: Find and preview several podcasts using iTunes. As you explore podcasts in iTunes, begin thinking about ways you could use existing podcasts to supplement your own learning (personal and professional) and classroom teaching/learning.

  1. __Download and install iTunes__ on your computer. external image b5eRu-WzmBlFIxH18KJk9Jb0eVoHpTj4EKGsqI6blXMY6NwsW3vTOCC-mKjx_JSXIWhpF72y8OeJEVlt3i5o6hglhF8M2zwxMfNlPouVN1AKe83oHg
  2. Launch iTunes. Click iTunes Store in the left navigation area.. Within the store, click the drop arrow on the Podcast tab.
  3. Select a category and explore the available podcasts. If you are not familiar with iTunes, please watch __this short video__ from Apple.
  4. While you are exploring:
    • Try browsing different categories, such as Education, Kids & Family and iTunes Picks. In each category, you will also find a list of Top Podcasts.
    • Try searching for podcasts in the iTunes Store Search bar (type your search term and press enter on your keyboard). On the results page, click Podcasts under Filter by Media Type. Try the Power Search to improve your results.
    • Be sure to visit iTunes U under the Education category! This amazing resource offers a collection of "more than 250,000 free lectures, videos, films, and other resources — from all over the world." (Way more than just podcasts, but you MUST check it out!) __Learn more about iTunes U__.
  5. Preview several podcasts. You can listen to any podcast episode by clicking the blue Play arrow to the left of the episode title.
  6. Subscribe to at least one podcast of personal interest and one podcast of professional interest using iTunes. Listen to a bit of your subscription(s). You can access your subscriptions

‡ HELP Video: __Find, preview and subscribe to a podcast in iTunes__

‡ HELP Page: __Find, preview and subscribe to a podcast in iTunes__

**Where else do I find podcasts?**

(Nearly all of these can also be found in the iTunes podcast directory, but know that you can add **any podcast feed** to iTunes by copying the podcast feed URL from the podcast website, then opening iTunes and selecting **Advanced > Subscribe to Podcast** and pasting the URL). )

**Additional Resources**




Write a brief blog post sharing your initial thoughts about podcasting in education. Points to consider: Which podcasts did you preview and subscribe to? What did you think? Do you have any ideas about incorporating existing podcasts into your personal, classroom or professional learning? (If you already use iTunes (or other podcatcher) and/or have an iPod or other MP3 player that you use for podcast listening, please share a bit about your experiences. If you are a podcaster, or have used podcasting with students, please share a bit about that as well). Please include "Thing 17" in your post title.

Thing 18 (Week 8): Publish a "Bare Bones" Podcast using Windows Sound Recorder, iTunes and Podbean


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photo by David Clow

As you learned in "__Thing 17__," a podcast consists of an audio file (in mp3 format) published to the web and an RSS feed (an XML file) that allows listeners to subscribe to your podcast using an RSS reader or podcatcher.

Technologically, producing a podcast is actually pretty easy. There are lots of free podcast hosting sites on the web, and many services available to help you host your own podcast and create the appropriate RSS feed. There are "pod-safe" music sites, offering Creative Commons-licensed music to enhance your podcasts. There are scores of recording devices, software options, and production tools to help you create polished, professional-sounding audio. (After you have survived this "Thing," and want to begin making "real" podcasts, with sound effects, multiple segments and background music, visit the __Podcasting Resources__ page to learn about Audacity and other tools for your podcast).

Producing a quality podcast is not so easy. When you are ready to __begin podcasting with your students__, you will find the real work lies in planning, writing, editing, developing quality content, rehearsing and creating meaningful assessments. Just as blogging begins with reading, podcasting should begin with listening.

That being said, who can expect teachers to invest in all that planning and effort if they don't feel confident that they can actually produce the podcast?

So, let's make a podcast...



Discovery Exercise

Create a brief 1-2 minute podcast using Windows Sound Recorder, iTunes (MP3 Conversion) and Podbean. You DO NOT have to join or register for anything to complete this activity. (Feel free to create your podcast using Audacity or GarageBand if you know how -- you can still upload to Podbean).

This "Thing" asks you to just "dip your toe" into podcasting by using a free audio recorder that comes on every PC, a conversion feature in iTunes and a free podcast host (Podbean). The goal here is for you to produce a "legitimate" podcast with as few "moving parts" as possible.

¤ NOTE: If you want to __record and produce "real" podcasts__, you will use audio recording/editing software such as Audacity or GarageBand (for Macs), plus a podcast hosting solution of your choice. This is just meant to be a practice experience.

‡ HELP Tip: Be sure to plug in your microphone or headset before you get started.

What should my podcast be about?

You can make your podcast about anything you want (as long as it is school appropriate). You can tell a joke, share a story or recipe, provide a summary of a current event, present a book review, explain a concept, ask some questions, sing a song...

Here are the steps, with instructions and help resources:

Step 1: Record a basic audio file (WAV format) using Windows Sound Recorder.

  • On any Windows machine, go to: Start > (All) Programs > Accessories > Entertainment > Sound Recorder. Using Sound Recorder, you can easily record and save a WAV file to your desktop. (If you are working on a Mac, record your audio using GarageBand, export it as an MP3, and go to Step 3).
  • ‡ HELP Video: __Recording in Windows Sound Recorder__

Step 2: Convert your audio file to MP3 format using iTunes.

  • Open iTunes. Select File > Add file to library. Browse for your saved audio file and double-click it to add it to iTunes. In iTunes, click once to select the file (it will turn blue). Go to Advanced > Create MP3 Version. When the converted file appears, right-click it and select Copy. Close iTunes. Right click an empty area of your desktop and select Paste. The file should appear on your desktop.
  • ‡ HELP Video: __iTunes MP3 conversion__ (You may first need to configure your iTunes to __convert to MP3__ - it's easy).

Step 3 - Upload your MP3 file to __Podbean__ to create a podcast. (I have sent the username and password to your Gmail account).

(NOTE: You DO NOT need to create your own Podbean account. We will use a shared course account to host all of our podcast episodes. I have sent the log-in info to your Gmail account).



Our shared Podbean account:



**PART 1:** Write a brief blog post sharing a bit about your podcast-making experience, including **at least one idea** you have for **producing a podcast** to support classroom learning (or your professional role). Be sure to include "Thing 18" in the post title.

**PART 2:** Listen to the podcast episodes of 2-3 fellow participants on our Podbean site. Leave a comment on one. You may need to come back in a few days to do this part.

**Stretch Task**

**Embed** the Podbean player for your podcast episode into your wiki page or in a blog post. In Edublogs, you will need to do this in HTML view (it's a tab at the top of the editing window when you write a post). To get the code, click the **Embeddable Player** link under your episode on the Podbean site.