It is no secret for us in instructional technology that podcasting is becoming the raging meme of excitement, a good thing. Maybe it is because of media attention, or just the whole iPod thing is just too cool. I’ve heard it uttered much more recently in emails and conversation with faculty in our system, and it is seemingly leaping over blogs and RSS and wikis (who’s strange-ness is a large hurdle to overcome).
Some preliminary observations:
* Publishing audio has always been there. Some think that providing audio content online is equivalent to podcasting. For years, we have been able to record audio, save as MP3, and provide it as a link from a web server. Technically this is not podcasting but people refer to it as such, and it is technically trivial to do once you figure out how to record/digitize audio. May the gods bless Audacity for providing a free threshold into recording/digitizing to MP3.
* Missing Tools: Creating the Feeds. If you are using weblog software to publish podcasts, there are readily available plugins to the popular blogware that provide the encoding of enclosures into the RSS feeds. But let’s say that Joe/Jane faculty wants to create podcasts, he/she manages to record a few sessions and post them on a server. If they are not hosting them via a blog, but a normal web site or a big old Course Management System, how th heck will they create the RSS Feed?
I would like to see an easy to use tool that would allow someone to upload MP3 files from their desktop to a server (or access a directory if the files are already there), and allow them to compose the feed content via a simple interface, and then publish the RSS. Maybe its already out there (I’ve not looked far).
* Thinking Out of the Recorded Lecture Box. A number of the faculty I have communicated with are thinking of only half of the equation- how they can record content to publish for students. This is fine, and can provide a nice supplement, but I hope we start extending this to consider how to get the tools in the students hands, turn them into the publishers. Like Will Richardson has been talking about the “Read/Write Web“, how about the “Listen/Record” web? This could be students doing audi interviews, audio portfolio reflections, audio storytelling, speech/communciation/language assignments, publishing project reports, international connections (audio pen pals?).
My limited experience with conducting quick interviews via audio chat and MP3 recorders tell me the content creation is not the difficult. It is certainly a do-able activity for students. Creating a podcast feed, however, outside a blog, is not so easy.
It’s still just a baby technology meme, but its rising madly up the charts. The more we can see and share interesting examples of using it for teaching and learning, the more clear it will be for newbies.