Sunday, October 18, 2009

Podcasting – A Continuing Technological Quest

I stumbled into quicksand and barely made it out! That’s how I felt when I started my podcasting journey. I was confidently strolling along with a trailfire and text book as my guide. Suddenly it wasn’t enough. I felt alone. I became disoriented and panicked. I went deeper and deeper into abyss. As I staggered around I lost sense of coherence and into the quicksand I sank. The more I struggled, the deeper and deeper I went until I felt I would never get out!

Reflections on the process of learning about the tool:

My first experience with podcasting was when we had to listen to the initial podcast for this course. I actually didn’t know what podcasting was until I looked it up on wikipedia. I should have known this was going to be a nightmare for me. From my first encounter of trying to open the introductory podcast to embedding my own, on my blog, I struggled. This has been the most frustrating I have felt in this course and probably with technology in a long time. One of the things that bothered me was that I felt like I was just within reach of getting where I needed to be but was unable to grasp the connection. I could see the problem but didn’t know how to fix it. Just like being trapped in quicksand, the more you struggle the deeper you go; you can see the vine hanging that could save you, but it’s just beyond your fingertips.
I first followed the trailfire and enjoyed listening to the podcasts, especially the ones made by the students on the Educating Alice Blog. I was a little disappointed that the trailfire didn’t include steps on making your own podcast. Then I read Richardson’s (2009) book and it seemed very straight forward. Just download a couple of programs and then copy and paste into my blog. I decided that I would use Audacity because that was what Richardson suggested. I was hoping that I could get this done quickly so that I would have more time to do extra reading. That didn’t happen.
I downloaded the newest version of Audacity and then downloaded Lame. After buying a microphone I plugged it in and started to record my podcast. I could see it recording but could not hear it. Recording several trials and playing around with the microphone and speakers fixed that problem. I had the wrong microphone option selected. Then it was time to save it as an mp3 file. I didn’t have this option on my version of Audacity.

I could listen to it but I couldn’t export it. I read the Audacity tutorial many times. It all came back to having an mp3 file. I watched a tutorial on Audacity and two others. I followed these step by step. I also went through the Lame wiki tutorials, again. One suggestion was that maybe Audacity couldn’t find the right connection to Lame. After hours of getting nowhere I decided to remove both programs from my computer and start again. This time I downloaded an older version of Audacity and low and behold it had a save as mp3 option. After making my podcast again, I saved it to itunes. My next problem was to store it on an internet server. I started with but ran into problems there with it trying to find my itunes file. Then I remembered a suggested site by Annabelle, , so I used it and tried Again I ran into difficulty because when it browsed my itunes it would take all my podcasts not just the one. Feeling close to defeat, with my phone beside me ready to call my instructor, I decided to copy my mp3 file to my desktop. It would give archive only one choice to copy. It worked! Embedding my podcast into my blog was relatively easy compare to everything else. There was nothing as satisfying as reaching that vine and feeling myself come free of the quicksand.

Discussion of the tool in terms of my own personal learning:

In my September introduction, I called my initial post, “My Learning Curve Can Only Go Up.” This week’s investigation into podcasting was a straight uphill climb. But the view from the top was breathtaking. Not only have I discovered that my family and I can make podcasts but there are some very valuable podcasts out there that I can learn from. I will be subscribing to a couple different ones that I can listen to on a regular basis. I will be able to download them to my mp3 player and listen as I drive, clean my house or have a cup of tea. I am looking forward to listening to people talk about some of the things I enjoy, such as scrapbooking, photography and early literacy. There are so many to choose from but I have not decided on any from the ones I have listened to. The video podcasts will also be very beneficial to help me learn new things.
As soon as I got the microphone working and did a test podcast, I called my children to hear it. They both tried it. I think they were hooked instantly but I wouldn’t let them make any to broadcast because I was still trying to get my own to work. Now that I know how to do it I will be teaching them and they will have endless ideas on what to do. Next week is their uncle’s birthday. We are going to make a podcast for him so he can get our birthday wishes in Manitoba. I was thinking we would make regular family podcasts to link into Facebook. I haven’t had a chance to try that but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. There is a link option. It would be like a Dudar Family What’s Going On for the Week Radio Program. Our families would love it. They all live far away and hearing our voices and updating them on our weekly happenings would bring us all closer together. If I can’t link it to Facebook then I would let them know how to listen to it on Maybe I could convince some other family members to make podcasts too. I’m not sure exactly how Skype works but it will be something I will be looking at in the future. Hopefully I can use my podcasting skills to connect family members that way.
Most of the podcasters that I listened to also had blogs. If I like their podcast I am sure I will enjoy their blog. This would be another way to open up some social groups for me pertaining to some of my interests.

Discussion of the tool in terms of teaching and learning:

I will be using podcasting in my teaching. I work with Early Literacy students and we always do some reader’s theatre to share with other classes. We will now put them into a podcast that can be shared at any time with students and parents. The students can have other family and friends listen at any time too. This will also work with my music class. We could have a regular recording time once a month and parents would have something to look forward too. My Kindergarten class could talk about concepts they have learned. As Kerstetter (2009) states, “recording classroom activities is a way to share with parents and administrators the positive outcomes and hard work involved in every class. Showcasing a "student of the week" or "class of the week" can be one method of sharing with the school community some of the wonderful things that happen in your classroom every day.” I will also be able to integrate listening to podcasts into my classroom in various subjects. We could listen to music and science podcasts. One such video podcast is which I will be showing for my next grade two science unit. As a school leader, I have convinced the grade three teacher to have her class make a radio type podcast on global citizenship. They are also researching other podcasts to help them to understand issues in other countries. I had her listen to the video podcast on grade three science to show her what can be done. Once I have a few podcasts completed I will share these with my colleagues at a staff meeting and show them how easy it is to do. Teachers of older students can make podcasts explaining concepts or missed lessons. I also belong to a Kindergarten Action Group that encompasses all of our division’s Kindergarten teachers. I will have them listen to the podcasts and help anyone who wants to try it. No trial and error for them! There are many benefits to using a Web 2.0 tool like podcasting in school. The recorded message can be listened to over and over by various groups, children are motivated to use technology, they are expanding their social networking, and for me personally the best reason to use podcasting is because I can! Podcasting is not covered in our privacy policy as long as I do not use video. One downfall to podcasting is that it will be more difficult to teach the younger students how to podcast. The second is time. I know I will have a difficult time being able to do all the projects that I want to do. Starting small will be the key. I am glad I survived the quicksand as podcasting is one of the tools that I will continue to use after this course is over.


Kerstetter, K. (2009). Educational Applications of Podcasting in the Music Classroom. Music Educators Journal, 95(4), 23-26. Retrieved October 17, 2009 from

Richardson, W., (2009). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. United States: Corwin.