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.
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:
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.
- 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!).
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!
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:
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.
- 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?
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
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!!!
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