Podcasts & RSS feeds
What's a podcast? A podcast is an audio file that you can download to your computer or music player (such as an iPod). You can listen to a podcast on a music/MP3 player or a computer. The difference between this kind of file and any other download is you don't have to go out looking for new content - it is delivered to you automatically when you subscribe, so it's more like your daily newspaper as compared to the book you borrowed from your local library. Podcasts are generally short and contain additional written material, which can be accessed on computer OR iPod (push the center button to see show notes).
World language teachers have 3 options in using podcasting:
- Using podcasts that others have
created (ESL Podcast to provide authentic, motivating
materials for your students.
- Creating podcasts that are closely tied to the content of your course
and sending them out into the ether for use by your students in class or
in a mobile
- Having your students create podcasts as a way to increase their listening
and speaking opportunities, give them an authentic audience and motivate
them toward greater engagement with the language.
Apple has made podcasting accessible to many schools, with partnerships to
provide server space and software, and has some great online
tutorials. You can watch videos on how to get started in podcasting (using
Macs and Apple software, of course) here. Apple now has a Student Gallery where students can upload their projects
GWU professor Heather Schell has her writing center students create "Gorilla Radio" news podcasts.
To record audio, you can use Audacity (Mac or Windows)
You can use a built-in microphone on some computers, but using one with a headset
usually works better. Save your file in .wav format or in .mp3 format. Another
way to record on Mac is using Garage
Band, which will save the file in a format native to iTunes.
Online Podcasting Community: Promoting Oral Proficiency with
WATESOL Workshop participants noted that the place to record for Odeo is http://studio.odeo.com/create/home Another option for online recording of podcasts is podOmatic
At the NorthEast Association for Language Learning Technology (NEALLT) conference, three language instructors, J. Ruth and L. Teixeira from
East Stroudsburg University and S. Villa from The New School, showed how they
use Odeo in their Spanish and Portuguese classes. http://odeo.com/ is a community-based
podcasting service which allows everything created there to be shared via email.
The presenters explained this process for using it:
- The teacher posts a picture
and some audio to accompany it. For example, a picture of four people would
have the audio, "Describe estas personas." Another teacher might send students
to a BBC news clip in Portuguese and ask particular questions.
- Each student
responds orally, recording and saving the audio that is sent to the teacher
automatically. The instructors say this greatly increases the amount of time
students are listening and speaking in the target language.
Podcasts as Instructional Tools: Taking Language Tasks Beyond the Classroom.
Two teachers, J. Torres and R. Araujo, from St. Lawrence University, in Canton,
NY, told about a project in their advanced Spanish Conversation class.
they listened to examples of native-language podcasts; http://radio.planetachat.com/ and personal podcasts.
- Next, they trained students in how to create podcasts,
using Audacity http://audacity.sourceforge.net ( a free, cross-platform sound
editor) or Garage Band (on Mac) or Loudblog: http://loudblog.de/, which sets
up an iTunes-ready RSS feed.
- The main aspect of the project required students
to produce four 10 – 20 minute podcasts about topics that would be
of interest to other students. The course website can be seen at: http://jennatorres.net/span346 where you can hear examples of the student podcasts.
Another new development in sharing online audio is MIDOMI, which allows you to record your own version of a popular song and upload it for others to hear. See the 'top stars'
NCLRC article on creating podcasts to explore study abroad (French Class)
RSS is like getting a newspaper subscription in cyberspace: announcements of new content arrive and you can choose to 'open' them and read or hear the content. It's a way to
keep up to date on what's happening on a number of sites without navigating
to them. You can look at RSS from two perspectives, as the content receiver
(reader) or as the content provider (blogger or podaster). I'll give you a
quick explanation for each perspective.
RSS For Content Receivers
You have to set up an RSS "aggregator" to handle the flow of content coming to your computer. Mac users can use NetNewWire (I have this on my laptop) while Windows users can go to Downloads.com FeedDemon for Windows
RSS For Content Creators
You can create an RSS feed manually but most prefer using software
that creates an xml webpage for you. One site I used is FeedBurner, which
allows you to create and easily update your RSS feed.