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'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Ignacio Estrada, via Tomlinson)

Pearson Freeware PD Session 2

Posted by Lisa Hill on December 9, 2008

Let’s digitise our classrooms!  This  session was all about podcasting, and it was  really good fun!

Why podcast?  Well, it’s interactive, creative and it develops 21st communication skills in a very motivating way.  Like other forms of digital storytelling, it’s cheap, and you can have a global audience for you or your students. (That’s great if you run global projects as I do each year with the IASL Bookmark project).  However it’s not just formal links like these that give students a buzz…one of our younger students was delighted to show his contribution to the 2JE Shining Stars class blog to his relations in Russia – and receive a comment back from them!  Imagine how faraway relations would love hearing a podcast complete with sound effects and music?  It’s so easy to do…

Teachers can also use podcasts as a learning resource.  What makes a good one? Podcasts should be short (2-3 mins) and entertaining.  To enhance the podcast, add fun background sounds for your podcast eg applause.   SoundSnap has a good range and good quality, and you can search for a sound and download it. 

Of course teachers need to consider the time commitment, their audience, audience and style, not to mention managing the learning setting (headphones, iPods etc) but accessing information via podcasts is very motivating for some students, especially non visual learners.  Schools can also link a podcast to a digital school community newsletter.

How to do it:

  1. Prepare – you need to make a plan first so that you know what you’re doing….
  2. Record your short piece using Audacity.
  3. Add SoundSnap  sound effects.
  4. Add Sony Super Duper Music Looper music.
  5. Add effects e.g. alter volume of different parts (see Effects menu in Audacity; the Time shift tool moves different sections of the file to different places e.g. to add a title)
  6. Edit with Audacity (free) for Windows; Mac Users need garageband.
  7. Save as project if you want to edit it.
  8. Save as mp3 file (use Export).
  9. Upload audio into your intranet file store or distribute feed URL .

  flipcam1You can also record direct from a webcam or from Audacity, and then link through the school blog or wiki. 
 Other things to play with are Flip Cams which are cheap and easy for kids to use, and they have a built-in USB connection to plug straight into the computer with no need to upload them with a lead.  Inkscape is an open source drawing tool to explore as well, and  Podomatic is free too. Blabberize will let you make a picture ‘talk’ – add a picture, manipulate the mouth, add in the podcast and the kids will love it. It’s a little bit fiddly getting the mouth just right…

We had so much making our podcasts that we ran out of time for Wikis, but Paul talked about how they were different from a blog.  It’s more collaborative – users can add to it and edit whereas blogs they can only comment. You can collaboratively run a timetable so that you can coordinate activities. Ideas and problems can be shared within an organisation without meetings e.g. add your occupational health and safety concerns to the wiki. You can invite certain people to join the wiki, including students, setting different levels of access e.g. as an administrator, editor, writer, reader, page level (view one page only). PB Wiki will automatically create email addresses for students if necessary.

Of course Cyber safety is vital but don’t let fear of student misuse block access to a powerful tool… Teachers need to  build in prerequisite skills before allowing internet access –  see the Cyber Quoll cartoon as a resource for covering these issues with students.  It is essential to build in guidelines that are clear and negotiated, and develop Netizen class agreeements.  Get the students to sign off on them so that they recognise their responsibilities on the net.  At Paul’s school students have to write in the Cyber Safety Wiki about what they learned from Cyber Quoll…

Many thanks to Paul Mears for a great session:) – there’s lots for me to play around with in the summer holidays!

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