My first experience with podcasts was on a road trip with a friend about four years ago. As we were preparing for the trip, I asked what kind of music she'd like to listen to, with a fair warning that I sing along with pretty much anything. We were driving from Atlanta to St. Louis, and the prospect of dealing with my singing for 8+ hours was not one she was particularly excited about. She suggested we download a few podcasts to break up the time. We both loved the radio shows "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" and "This American Life," but we were driving on a day when the shows weren't going to be broadcast on the radio. She went to iTunes, searched for and subscribed to the podcast of the shows, and downloaded the two or three most recent episodes. We were off, and I was amazed. It was so easy!
As a Music teacher and avid music lover, I have used iTunes and have had three different iPods since 2004, starting with a first generation version that predated the clickwheel. However, before that road trip experience, I had never clicked the "Podcasts" tab in the iTunes store. I had heard of podcasts, but I didn't really understand what they were or how to access them. Within a few minutes, my friend taught me that iTunes makes it incredibly easy to search for, subscribe to, download, and enjoy podcasts by people from all walks of life.
I have recently begun incorporating podcasting into my classroom teaching. As a Music teacher, it makes perfect sense to use podcasting to share my students' performances, both big and small. I also love that I don't have to worry about which students do or do not have signed publicity release forms, since there are no identifying names or images. To create a recording, I use my iPhone's Voice Memo app to record my students, then I upload the recording to my computer. To turn the recording into a shareable podcast, I upload the recording onto website called Audioboo, and the site generates an html code that I easily copy and embed in a post on my classroom blog.
Audioboo is incredibly user friendly, and has an option for making recordings on the spot or uploading a previously created file. The option for making recordings directly from the website is one that I am considering having my students try out. This feature on Audioboo would make it very easy for my students to record themselves, e.g. to discuss what they learned in class that day. Audioboo is free to use and allows for an unlimited number of recordings, or "boos," but the free version only allows for a maximum of three minutes in length per podcast. In addition, Audioboo has links for RSS feeds and iTunes podcasting subscriptions. With the touch of a button, my students and parents can subscribe to my class podcasts via my profile page on the Audioboo website. Most recently, I have purchased an external USB microphone called the Blue Snowball for higher quality sound recording, and I am eagerly awaiting its delivery so I can start playing with it!
Here are two examples of my Audioboo podcasts that I have posted onto my classroom blog. The one on top is the first podcast I published on my blog back in December, in which I introduce the concept of podcasting and explain the ways I intend to use it in the classroom. The second is an in-class-performance-turned-podcast.
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful Web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Publishers.