Grab a podcast while you can!!
Posted on: 6 Mar 2009
Depending on the source of your podcasts, the content of the RSS feeds for a podcast channel can change quite frequently. Podcasters may elect to publish new podcasts daily, weekly, monthly or only occasionally.
When podcasts are published on a daily or weekly basis you may find that the one you are interested in may "disappear" from the RSS feed and channel listing. Sometimes the podcast itself is no longer available to listen to or download, even in iTunes.
For educators planning to use podcasts with their learners, there can be nothing more frustrating than to discover the podcast is no longer accessible - for whatever reason! If there is a specific podcast you intend to use, the best tip is to make sure you download this to your laptop or desktop so it is readily available.
Guide to educational podcasting
Posted on: 26 Aug 2008
Interested in a podcast guide for educators? Part of the Modeling Effective Education Technology MEET grant through the California Community Colleges and CCC Confer 2006, Donna Eyestone
has authored a series of short podcasts about "how to podcast" for educators. Each of the podcasts are in the form of captioned movies and provide a useful guide to help educators get started with podcasting. The series cover all the key areas and each one is supplemented with transcripts.
Although the series has been published for some time, it still represents a valuable resource for professional development. The podcasts are listed in our podcast directory
Posted on: 20 May 2008
One of the great things about podcasts is the way in which they are published via RSS feeds. This makes it so easy to share information about the podcast with anyone. Writing a good description about a podcast episode is "a must". Why? Because it:
- provides the best insight into your podcast content;
- is displayed with the podcast listing in almost all podcast directories, and;
- allows the podcast details to be trawled by search engines such as Google (apart from iTunes of course!).
Don't ever underestimate the power of the wriiten word as search engines drive internet users to content, which can bring further interest in your podcast. But don't go overboard with your description. A good tip is to provide a brief but accurate description which contains all the keywords you wish to associate with the content of your podcast episode.
Words and pictures
Posted on: 28 Sep 2007
An increasing number of schools are making use of enhanced podcasts to present and share a wide range of work produced by children and young people. Enhanced podcasts are a simple but effective multi-media format for creating "words and pictures", introducing a different set of skills for children and young people to master. Podcasters can incorporate a series of images to illustrate a range of activities and samples of work from educational topics. In addition, enhanced podcasts can also include chapter markers to help organise content into various themes and these podcasts may incorporate hyperlinks that point to content on the internet such as pages on a school blog or website.
You can identify an enhanced podcast by the use of the .m4a file extension. However, this is not foolproof as some audio podcasts are encoded in AAC format and use the same file extension. In our podcast directory
we include this graphic symbol
together with explanatory text so you can spot the difference!
A free guide to podcasting
Posted on: 9 Aug 2007
If you are looking for a comprehensive guide to podcasting then the website created by Micah Ovadia then look no further than this. Micah's website (PoducateMe
: Practical Solutions for Podcasting in Education) features a 186-page guide that covers all you need to know. The guide is well indexed and covers a wide range of podcasting topics. A most valuable resource for educators.
Podcast tips from a CLC
Posted on: 3 Mar 2007
Colleagues from the Wolverhampton City Technology Centre in the UK have published a valuable post entitled: "Tips for a successful school podcast
". The post presents a range of interesting hints and tips about creating a successful podcast, based on practical experience. The post also includes examples of podcasts to illustrate the key messages.
This is a most useful resource that all teachers and other educational professionals will find invaluable.
Safeguarding in practice
Posted on: 12 Feb 2007
The importance of safeguarding children and vulnerable young people is regularly highlighted. Educational podcasting is no different to any other form of internet access in that respect.
Here is a five-point safeguarding checklist that may prove useful for educators:
- Have all podcasts been vetted for suitable content?
- Do podcast channels originate from a reliable source?
- Are other podcast channels listed in directories suitable?
- Do web pages listing podcasts include links to appropriate content?
- Is "educational podcasting" covered by the school's internet access policies?
The actual process of safeguarding in practice will obviously depend on the context, nature and scope of the computer systems that children and young people can access.
One thing is certain, you can never be too careful!
Interactivity and podcasts
Posted on: 24 Oct 2006
There is an increasing number of teachers and lecturers in universities, colleges and schools making use of student response systems (SRS), sometimes referred to as "clickers". One of the benefits of such systems is that all learners within an educational setting are able to engage and participate in providing feedback and evaluations on a variety of content.
In a previous item, we referred to the value of evaluating podcasts produced by others as a very worthwhile activity. If you have an interactive whiteboard (IWB) and SRS then, why not combine these to evaluate podcasts as a class-based activity?
Play a podcast via your IWB and include a link to a URL resource of questions so that your learners can provide instant feedback - as in audience response surveys. Their responses can relate to different prompts at predetermined stages with results collated and shared in a variety of ways. A simple but effective form of evaluation!
It's cool to recycle!
Posted on: 18 Jul 2006
As the end of another academic year approaches, thoughts turn to the new class next year. Now, if you are into producing podcasts with children and young people, why not raid the archive of podcasts that were created this year?
At the end of each calendar year, most podcasters produce a kind of celebratory podcast, highlighting some of the key moments from their podcasts over the past 12 months. In education, you can apply the same approach but do this for the academic year as well!
This is such a great "end of term" activity for children and young people, but also a good way to kick-start podcasting with a new group next term. What could be better than evaluating previous podcasts, selecting extracts and compiling a "best of" podcast? This approach would engage children and young people into the "cutting and pasting" as well as the editing of audio files, audio mixing and use of cross-over filters, writing and recording narrative introductions and the links between the extracts. Before you know it, there will be a 30+ minute podcast in the making and it's cool to recycle!
Just one tip - make sure that you use the original audio files (if you have them) as it is not easy to cut and paste audio files in MP3 or M4A formats!
Evaluating the quality of educational podcasts
Posted on: 1 Jul 2006
A great activity for children and young people is to evaluate the quality of other podcasts, particularly if looking for ideas and a podcast to emulate. But a key question is what do we mean by a good quality podcast?
Writing criteria to evaluate educational podcasts is a demanding but rewarding activity. It is often better to separate decisions about the quality of content from the production quality. In practice, a podcast might have great content but be badly produced with, say, poor audio quality.
Criteria for evaluating the quality of content might be: the topic is presented in an interesting and imaginative way and the content is well structured and organised; and for the quality of production might be: the presenters are clearly heard above background music and effects with any audio effects used to enhance the content and presentation
If you are interesting in finding out more, we have included criteria for evaluating a selection of audio, enhanced and video podcasts in our online e-learning course: Podcasting Basics
We have now published a PDF version of the criteria and prompts entitled "Evaluating Podcasts for Teaching and Learning". Download the PDF file
(58 KB). In the near future, we will be publishing a version designed for use with children and young people.
Podcasts in a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
Posted on: 13 May 2006
Increasingly, schools and colleges are making more use of virtual learning environments
to provide a portal to online courses, material, resources and information for young people and professional staff. An audio, enhanced or video podcast is just another resource that can be incorporated within a VLE in different ways:
- Include a direct link can be made to the podcast URL. This may be ideal for a topic area within a particular course but do check that the podcast is available on a regular basis. Some podcasters remove past podcasts and your students could be left "high and dry"!
- Provide a link to a particular page in a podcast directory, including iTunes. Depending on how the podcast directory is organised - and type of material that is included in the listings - this may provide the opportunity for young people to search and locate podcasts within a theme or curriculum area as part of an online activity. Within this directory, podcasts are categorised into curriculum and topic areas.
- Subscribe to the RSS feed for a podcast channel or a selection of podcast channels. this facility is is available in many VLEs and can be used to track updates. For example, some podcast channels publish podcasts on a daily basis.
As ever, the power and flexibility afforded by such Web 2.0 technologies
makes many things possible. The only limit are the boundaries of our imagination as educators!!!
Podcasts for exam revision!
Posted on: 24 Apr 2006
Reference was made to the possibilities of using podcasting for revision purposes in the section entitled providing alternative teaching approaches
in our article "Exploiting the Educational Potential of Podcasting
", published in April 2005.
As the season for public examinations and "study leave" will soon be upon us, there are two recent examples that focus specifically on revision activities. Primariliy aimed at young people studying Modern World History for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE
) in their respective schools, these are:
These podcasts would also be useful for any other students undertaking a course in Modern World History for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE
) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Of course, not every subject lends itself to an audio podcast for revision purposes in this way. Indeed, just relying on a podcast as the only revision strategy would be foolhardy! However, what these two examples do illustrate an innovative approach to the application of educational podcasting to support personalised learning
, an agenda that is strongly promoted by the Department for Education and Skills here in the UK.
Posted on: 9 Apr 2006
Within a school, the art of podcasting is truly a collaborative enterprise with children and young people. For a while, creating podcasts has tended to be very much focused on activity within a single school - but that is now changing!
As educational podcasting becomes more popular, more and more schools are beginning to develop collaborative approaches to subject material and exchanging links between schools. In some cases, schools within a locality are collaborating on a common topic or theme. The SOS podcast
from Croftfoot Primary and St Mirin's Primary in Glasgow, Scotland is one very good example of this approach. Other schools are producing joint podcasts with shared content with other schools - sometimes in the same country or with schools in other countries. The Pod-Pals podcasts
from Pinckney Elementary in Michigan, USA for example, includes examples of both.
With imagination and a lot of planning, it really does seem that anything is possible. Some good examples of podcasts are being published where children in one school pose questions answered by children in another. The resulting podcast seamlessly incorporates both elements, effectively masking the inevitable time-shift between the date and time of the recordings. A clear advantage of the flexibility of this podcast model is that it could help to encourage and promote "international conversations" across the different time zones around the world!
Some enthusisatic teachers have now started to use VOIP
(Voice over Internet Protocol), such as Skype
, to record a live podcast segment to great effect. All you need is a lot of patience, good time management and reliable technology to make collaborative podcasting a reality!
Searching and locating podcasts
Posted on: 21 Feb 2006
It is now generally accepted that podcasting is one of the fastest growth areas on the Internet. The number of audio, enhanced and video podcasts grows daily and numbers in the tens of thousands already.
So how do you search and locate podcasts that might be suitable for use in the classroom? The answer should be simple - use Internet search engines or the search facilities of podcast directories. Everyone will have their own ideas on this - based on their experience, confidence levels and personal preferences.
Depending on the quality of information provided in RSS feeds by podcasters, all the major Internet search engines will retrieve information about podcasts. Similarly, almost all podcast directories incorporate some form of search function to help to locate podcasts. The former will provide the biggest and most powerful range of search options and, depending on the search criteria, a long list of possible options to explore. With the latter, you can at least be confident that the search will at least locate a podcast!
Of course, there is no substitute for "hands on" learning and practical experience. Deciding on which approach will prove the most reliable and produce a manageable list of results is important. This is particularly important if you are demonstrating the technique to a group of children or young people. One of the considerations will be the age range of the learners themselves and whether this will be a teacher-led or learner-led activity.
Searching and locating information in this digital age is invaluable nowadays and will often be a pre-requisite for curriculum requirements. See "Icebergs and Podcasts?
" for more information about searching for podcasts.
"Video On Demand" in the classroom
Posted on: 23 Jan 2006
There is more and more talk about "Video On Demand". For teachers with access to an interactive white board with fast broadband access to the Internet in their classrooms, this is now a reality.
There is an increasing range of video podcasts now available via the Internet - another useful resource for imaginative and ICT-literate teachers. Often, such podcasts are not overly long and can be ideal for sharing information, introducing a topic or to stimulate a class discussion. Sometimes, video podcasts are also referred to as vodcasts or vlogs (video blogs) and can be created in different formats
Once you know where to find them, video podcasts are easy to locate and to use. All the "old VCR" or DVD player facilities like pause, fast-forward and rewind the video are readily to hand. If you really want to you can even play the video podcast backwards - if that is relevant!
There are plenty of video podcasts out there but be warned that you will discover some that are certainly not suitable for use with children and young people! Have a look at our weblog posting on "video podcasts for lessons
" for an overview of the video podcasts that we have carefully selected and listed in our directory for use in schools.
Will podcasting aggravate or bridge the digital divide?
Posted on: 3 Jan 2006
There is, rightly, much concern about the "digital divide" emerging in society. One of the distinct advantages of a formal education in schools is that many children and young people are able to make full use of ICT facilities, especially in the UK.
Schools around the world are beginning to use podcasts and actively encouraging greater access to school news, topics and events from home or elsewhere. Whilst podcasting offers yet another way for schools to share up-to-date information with the community - not all the children, young people and families will have access to the Internet or, indeed, MP3 players.
An inclusive approach to education policy and practice is an important aspect for consideration by leaders and managers in every school, and this is just as important when a school moves into the realm of podcasting. In essence, this is as much about creating a technological culture as it is about the emerging technology infrastructure.
Discovering the extent of a digital divide within a local community may not be easy but is a pre-requisite for schools nowadays. It would be a pity if the evident enthusiasm for exploiting the educational potential of podcasting in schools, colleges and the community was to aggravate rather than bridge the digital divide.
The Equity Campaign has established clear objectives
in addressing the digital divide and providing equal opportunities in IT for young people. The e-Learning Foundation website at www.e-learningfoundation.com
provides some useful information about the digital divide in the UK.
What is the focus of your school's podcasts?
Posted on: 8 Dec 2005
The range of possible teaching and learning activities for educational podcasting is immense, limited only by the creative synergy of teachers, children and young people.
By far the most popular format for a school podcast is a form of "radio format" reporting on current topics and activities in the day-to-day life of the school. these are real and meaningful activities for children and young people to participate in and their enthusiasm is self-evident. Not only does the production quality now rival that of the professionals; the range, scope and diversity increases daily.
- performances and rehearsals of music
- showcasing the work of children and young people
- messages for parents and community notices on key events
- interviews with young people about their aspirations and achievements
- interviews with key members of staff about their work
Whilst the trend seems to be that more and more schools are beginning to encourage children and young people to listen to school podcasts at home, there is already concern about the "digital divide" that exists between different communities with a risk that certain categories of learners, especially the most vulnerable, may not have the opportunity to participate in podcasting activities other than at school.
Podcasting and interactive white boards
Posted on: 23 Nov 2005
The number of classrooms that now have electronic white boards (EWB) installed is increasing as educators see the potential for supporting teaching and learning activities.
Using an EWB in a whole-class setting to demonstrate and use a podcast is now a viable option for teachers and other staff to consider. These are just a few of the many possibilities to consider:
- introducing a subject topic by using the podcast
- demonstrating how to find and play podcasts or create a podcast
- using a podcast to stimulate discussion about a citizenship or current affairs topic
- listening and evaluating podcasts produced by other children and young people from around the world
- providing supplementary material for a class assembly
As ever, the possibilities are only limited by the imagination and creativity of teachers, children and young people.
E-safety: Informing parents and carers
Posted on: 5 Oct 2005
There is an increasing trend for schools to encourage children and young people to use podcasting at home, often to download and listen to podcasts that have been produced at the schools themselves. When promoting podcasting activities, schools and other educational organisations often refer to the fact that podcasts are listed in a directory, such as the popular podcast directory within the iTunes Music Store.
Inevitably, some podcasts posted on the Internet contain explicit material and/or bad language, sometimes this is only revealed once the podcast has been downloaded. Some directories do take steps to identify such material, or include specific warnings about explicit content.
The governors and leadership teams of schools and other educational organisations need to be satisfied that they are not promoting any potential access to explicit material in advocating the use of podcasting at home or elsewhere. It is important, therefore, to ensure that their current Internet policies cover this aspect and that appropriate advice is published to parents and carers. This is particularly important for the most vulnerable children and young people, as access to such material could pose an even greater risk if the appropriate precautions have not been not put in place.
A useful resource about this topic is available on the BECTA website
, where links to the some other essential websites on e-safety are also provided.
Educational podcasting and copyright
Posted on: 15 Sep 2005
Unlike other forms of broadcasting, podcasting per se is not subject to direct censorship or regulatory control. This is part of the attraction of podcasting but there are many potential pitfalls that await the unwary.
The high profile campaign by the music industry against the illegal downloading of music has been effective. With the advent of podcasting, the music industry is turning attention to the illegal use of music and performances on podcasts. They enforce strict rules on the unauthorised use of music and if you are producing a podcast, you will have to decide whether to obtain a music licence (to cover the performance rights and royalties); use royalty free or ?podsafe? music (always check the conditions of use) or create and use your own, original music.
Many podcasters wanting to incorporate music from various artists and different musicians into their podcasts are turning to "podsafe music". The "Podsafe Music Network" at music.podsafe.com
. The website provides access to a good range of quality music covering a range of different genre.
More information about licencing music and copyright for podcasting is available from the BMI website
E-safety: Is your school Internet policy up-to-date?
Posted on: 2 Sep 2005
With the rapid developments in technology and new applications on the Internet, it is always improtant to keep the school Internet policy reviewed and up-to-date. Many schools in the UK and elsewhere have been required to adopt an Internet policy to safeguard access and use of the Intenet. many of these have been based on policies that have been approved by the various local authorities who retain oversight of school education within their area. Well written policies will already provide reference to the main formats for podcasts, namely audio, images and video. If not then this is clearly an omission.
Inevitably, some podcasts posted on the Internet may contain explicit material and/or bad language, sometimes only revealed once the podcast has been downloaded. Some directories identify such podcasts, or include specific warnings about explicit content. The "Podcast for Educators" directory applies strict criteria
before listing any podcasts to ensure that these are suitable for use with children and young people.
Reviewing and updating your current ICT policy for use of the Internet and publishing advice to parents and carers is a sensible step for every school. Further information
abour e-safety is available from the BECTA website (schools.becta.org.uk).