There's lots to report in the world of podcasting!
FTC Publishing is sponsoring Podcasting in the Classroom Contest. You can win win one of six iPod shuffles, KidCast: Podcasting in the Classroom books, and a $100 FTC gift certificate. A winner will be chosen each month from December 2005 through May 2006. To enter the contest, simply write an essay of 150 words or less about how you are currently using podcasts in your classroom or how you envision using them in support of your curriculum. Submissions will be featured on the KidCast Podcast -- so listen up for others' great ideas!
THE Journal's December 2005 edition features the article Podcasting: Transforming Middle Schoolers Into "Middle Scholars". Don't let the article deceive you: you need neither a Mac nor an iPod to participate in podcasting. The end of the article has a dozen quotes from Jeanne Halderson's seventh graders in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Ryan says, “Podcasting motivates me because you feel like you are telling the world about little stuff that we do. It makes you feel important and accepted." You can listen to the middle schoolers in A School in the Coulee Podcast.
I've got four kid-friendly podcasts to share. First, there's Jokes in English. It's a collection of short MP3 files with some funny jokes. Storynory is a podcast with stories for kids from the U.K. Click-A-Story is from the Thomas Ford Memorial Library in Illinois and also offers stories for kids. Podcasts for Educators is based in the U.K. and features podcasts by students from around the globe in their Highlights from 2005 episode.
Apple's newest version of GarageBand, included in the newly released iLife '06 suite of applications, has a built-in "podcast studio." It has so many great enhancements to make GarageBand even better for podcasting. For instance, it includes a voice enhancer, allowing users to use a Mac's built-in microphone for recording and actually have it sound great. It allows you at easily add artwork that can be displayed and change during the course of your show. GarageBand 3 includes over 200 free jingles and effects. As part of iLife '06, Apple includes a new application called iWeb that allows users to easily publish media, blogs, and podcasts (though I think a .Mac account is required). It all works seamlessly. Tune into a demonstration at the 40-minute mark in this streaming video. iLife '06 is $59 for educators from Apple's online store and comes free with all new Macs. I'll be experimenting with these tools and I'll let you know how it goes!
Many Windows users are looking for alternatives to Apple's Macintosh-only GarageBand. One of the popular features of GarageBand is its ability to create music using repeating loops of prerecorded audio. Sony's ACID XPress is free loop-based music software for Windows. The free version allows up to 10 tracks, which should be plenty. Be sure to visit ACIDplanet weekly to download sets of free loops, as ACID XPress itself has a limited number of included loops. (Thanks to Jim Dornberg from the Monroe County Intermediate School District for letting me know about this software.)
It's no wonder to me that the New Oxford American Dictionary of English has declared "podcast" the Word of the Year for 2005. I know podcasting will be even bigger in 2006 because of all of these great resources and tools!