Podcasts, Personal On-Demand Broadcasting, have become overwhelming popular with a variety of generations over the last several years. Thanks to the read/write web, users are able to find podcasts that meet their interests or needs much like a blog and subscribe to the ones they enjoy most (Richardson, 2010). By subscribing the user is able to have the newest episode or podcast download immediately to their device using a podcatcher. There are several great options for podcatchers available, but I would recommend iTunes or PodOmatic. Both of these sites allow you to search for current podcasts and also save, or catch, any podcast you might be interested in so you can go back later and revisit or share it with someone else. This is great for someone with a busy schedule because thanks to portable devices such as iPods, these podcasts can be synced to your device and you can listen to them on the go. Many automotive companies are now making it even easier to connect or sync with the audio system in the car so you can play the podcasts through the speakers just like the radio or a cd.
With so many possibilities out there, there comes a need for organization and search-ability of the many podcasts available. As I said before, iTunes and PodOmatic have search features available that will do category searches or key word searches. To help narrow it down even more, there are search sites for particular types of podcasts such as Ted Talks. TedTalks focuses on conferences where technology, education, or design are the main focuses and captures the speakers for non-conference attenders. This is a site that I have found to have wonderful K-12 education videos and educational technology podcasts. Below is a video of Tyler DeWitt speaking to science teachers about how to make science more fun and engaging for teachers.
While I created a podcast years ago in an educational course, this is not something that I have used as frequently for my own teaching purposes. The few times I use podcasts as a teaching tool is for students who are absent and need direct instruction on a topic they missed. Recently I created a podcast dispelling a few of the misconceptions my students have on What does evolution mean in the science classroom. The way I see podcasts working best in the classroom is for the students to be the ones creating them. The joy of podcasts is that students can, but do not have to include the video of themselves speaking. While some students love to show off in front of others, the majority of middle school students I have worked with freeze up when asked to present in front of others. By using Voki or Audacity, the students are able to record themselves speaking through the material and then embed the audio in the digital presentation. It has done wonders for my shy students and by the end of the year, they are more comfortable speaking in front of others and do not feel like they have to pre-record themselves.
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. (3rd ed.). Thousand Oak, California: Corwin.