We [Heart] Podcasting

Listening to PodcastsToday marks the one year anniversary of the publication of Willowdale’s first podcast. Radio WillowWeb has been so much fun for all students and teachers involved. Now that Radio WillowWeb has shows covering such varied topics as the U.S. Constitution, electricity, American Indians, and the Revolutionary War, I hope there is at least one episode of Radio WillowWeb that you can play for your students if you are a teacher.

In fact, I just posted our newest podcast, Willowcast #16, which is about the six writing traits. This show features skits by fifth graders to help others remember the traits of writing. Although kids tend to get pretty silly when making skits, these fifth graders struck a good balance between humor and information.

If you’d like more insight into how we create podcasts for Radio WillowWeb, check out the Create Podcasts section of learninginhand. You can even download a PDF version of the planning guide used for each Willowcast. Willowdale students are proud that Radio WillowWeb has served as an inspiration for other school podcasts. Teachers in California, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Saskatchewan have started podcasting using Radio WillowWeb as an example. How cool is that?

And yes, podcasting has a cool factor. How else can students have their work listed just two clicks away from celebrities like Beyoncé and Kelly Clarkson in iTunes? But podcasting has so many more benefits--giving students a real audience and a genuine purpose really empowers them. We've found that podcasting is a great vehicle to address so many of the ideas in Willowdale’s philosophy statement for technology. I think the words in bold particularly address podcasting:

As an innovator and leader in educational technology, Willowdale Elementary School uses technology to enhance teaching and learning. We provide students access to the tools that are shaping our global society in order to match their learning needs, give students an authentic audience, and support learning and achievement. Willowdale teachers use technology as a communication tool to connect to families, the community, and the world. Teachers strive to infuse technology into each subject area and grade level. Teachers craft lessons that have students use technology and information for a genuine purpose as technology is not introduced for its own sake. Use of technology is part of the daily work for all employees to increase productivity, communication, and management and to model life skills for students. Willowdale’s thoughtful and productive use of technology makes our school a better place to teach and learn while preparing students to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Putting audio on the Web is certainly not fluff; one listen to Radio WillowWeb and there are no doubts that students are learning and loving it. There’s just so much to love about podcasting!

And just for you, here are five links to articles and sites I recently found:

  • Here's a page crammed full of information about podcasting by Shaun Else, a fifth grade teacher in Ontario, Canada.
  • Here's a PowerPoint slide show about podcasting from K12 Handhelds given at the 2006 NCCE conference.
  • Here's an article about the right and wrong ways of podcasting in education by Rob Reynolds. If you don't feel like reading it, you can listen to it by clicking the Play button on the top of the page.
  • Here's a article from the New York Times featuring podcasting middle schools students in Wisconsin.
  • Here's a page full of articles, software, and example of podcasting by Marsha Burmeister from Florida. She suggest that the "pod" in podcasting stands for "personal on demand" audio.