Monday, February 25, 2008


I do believe 'the public' can now access my podcast! I am keeping my fingers crossed. Go to the following website at Podcast People, and my 'Figgy Duff' recipe should be there.

Now I just need to upload it onto my blog!
I do believe that it works now. I went to a tutorial at Blogger and listened to a video clip and adapted the directions to my podcast people site. I hope you enjoy it!

Figgy Duff

Let Me Count the Way(s of Podcasting)!

A list of ways of using Podcasts:

-sharing student work with the community
-narration of characters in literature
-vocabulary practice
-oral book report
-archiving historical events
-peer tutoring
-use on a field trip
-provide notes for absent students
-provide day plans for substitutes
-improve fluency of reading, speaking and communicating
-assessment tool
-enlist peer support for social issues
-bring experts and knowledge to students
-develop interviewing technique
-preview and or review of course material
-celebrate learning at the end of a unit

There are numerous Podcasts that we as teachers would benefit from accessing.
Here is a list of a only a few that may be of interest:

-Connect Learning Podcast (David Warlicks)
-ESL Teacher Talk
-Tech Teacher Podcast
-Music Appreciation Podcasts

In conclusion, podcasting is a very powerful tool that benfits both the learner and teacher. Students and teachers actively participate in creating and listening to info-rich podcasts.

'Podcasts are versatile, reusable, interesting and stimulating to the new generation of technology-savvy student(and teachers).'(Podcasting for Your Class,Mikat,Martinez,Jorstad, Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, May/Jun 2007.)

Long my your big jib draw! and when I am finally able to upload my podcast, you will know what the previous phrase means.

Podcasts in the Library!

In the article entitled, Podcasting 101 for K-12 Librarians (Computers in Libraries, April 2006)the author makes a very interesting and valid statement when discussing the reasons to use podcasts in the library. The author, Esther Eash cautions us to consider the reasons for podcasting. She goes on to say that it isn't reason enough to use it just because it is a new form of technology. According to Eash, we need to consider if podcasting is the best format for the task, whether it supports our curriculum goals and if it enhances student learning. These are all valid concerns that teachers and TLs need to address whenever they encounter new technology or new curriculum developments.

There are several legitimate reasons for using podcasts in school libraries.
Teacher librarians access podcasts to supplement research, or to get updated news and information. School library programming can be promoted through creating a podcast.You can use podcasts for book reviews, reading programs and for assessing student achievement. Student podcasts in the library that include interviews, creative writing and readings, demonstrate skills and observations about the learning process. Podcasts can be used to share library news, advertising library events like book fairs and student library club activities. Podcasts in the library can provide professional development. Professional development podcasts could include how to write a book review, copyright issues, book group discussions and bring in other professionals.

Teacher Librarians are in a unique position to be proactive in developing the use of podcasting with students and teachers to support their teaching and learning.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Place for Podcasts in Education!

Podcasts can be utilized and integrated in a variety of ways as a teaching and learning tool. By creating and recording podcasts, students sharpen their research, writing and speaking skills The Podcast Heard Around the World (Jacqueline Heinze, Scholastic Administr@tor, June 2006). According to this article, students deepen their understanding of content,and teachers can hear that students know what they are talking about through their podcasts.

In Podcasting: Just the Basics (Kelly Gatewood, Kappa Delta Pi Record,Winter 2008)four educational purposes of podcasts are discussed. These include curriculum augmentation, professional development, material presentation by both teachers and students, and effective communication with the community and parents.

First,with regards to curriculum augmentation,Podcasts supply a variety of content in audio form. According to Howard Gardner and his theory of multiple intelligences, we all have different learning styles and strengths. This technology enables teachers to utilize another instructional tool that allows effective communication with students who positively respond to audio learning. In the classroom, podcasts can be used to introduce new material, support current lessons and review material already covered in classrooms.According to Sound Off! The Possibilities of Podcasting (Gordon, Book Links, September 2007), some teachers have begun to record themselves teaching important concepts which then creates an archive of information online for students to access when they're stuck on a homework assignment.

Second,Podcasts for professional development can be very effective. Podcasts provide conveniency to teachers as they can select what, when and where they learn. If there is a particular professional topic, they can search for relevant podcasts and listen to any applicable ones.They can listen to them at their own convenience, at their desk,or even on the drive home using an iPod. This recent technology tool is now available anytime or anywhere for teachers to use in support of their professional development. Another area of professional development that is of personal interest is utilizing podcasts as an assessment tool. Our school's AISI(Alberta Initiative for School Improvement) focus is on assessment. Teachers could listen to students read passages at various times of the year to assess changes and improvements.

A third educational use for podcasts is information sharing. Teachers can record lectures, lab directions, project overviews and review material and make it available for students to access. Students can then create podcasts to demonstrate their learning and understanding of the content. Podcasts give the opportunity for some students to effectively explain something outloud rather than write it down. The writing process is supported through podcasting. Students write a script, edit it,practice reading it and perform. Students take on a more responsible role in their personal learning through the use of podcasts, either listening or creating with podcasts.

A fourth use for podcasts is to effectively communicate with parents and the school community. Podcasts can provide information about current happenings at the school, homework, announcing special events, and give sport reports. Podcasts provide an effective way of keeping families and the community informed.

These are just a few educational benefits of podcasting. More specific ones will be listed later as well as how to use podcasts in the library.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Planning and Producing a Podcast!

As we know, the best way to learn about a web tool is to use it! Being a beginner, I decided to use the KISS approach. First I listened to several different podcasts, on YouTube, and at various podcast sites (Podcast Alley, PodcastPickle, Podcasting News). I also explored websites recommended by Jennifer at and Arlene's site.

I then gathered all the required equipment. I have a PC and I purchased a set of headphones with a built in adjustable microphone(on sale for $20 at The Source). I chose the recording software application, Audacity because it is reasonably easy to use and is free! It is available to download from the internet at the website:

When the file is opened, it initiates the installation process and you follow the self explanatory steps to install it on your computer. Once it is fully installed, an icon will appear on the computer for you to open it. I also downloaded the free 'lame' file which enables one to convert the podcast into an mp3 format so that it is more accessible.

Before beginning a podcast it is recommended that you make a plan. An informative article which discusses how to create a podcast can be found at Proquest - Podcasting in the school library, part2:creating powerful Podcasts with your students(Annette Lamb,Larry Johnson, Teacher-Librarian, April 2007).The article examines how one teacher decided that instead of confiscating MP3 players from students, he would integrate them into the curriculum by having students create a podcast. The article goes on to explain the steps of creating a successful podcast. Who will be your audience? What will your topic be? What will be in your script? How long will it be? Have you checked for copyright issues? Have you got a quiet place to record? Will there be more than one person doing the podcast? Will you be incorporating music or sound effects? How often will you rehearse? Does it need editing and how will you do this? How will your podcast be shared? These are all important questions to address in order for your podcast to be successful.

The first podcast I created was a reading of one of my own children's favorite picture book that we have at our cabin. I practiced numerous times and even included a sound effect of a tinkling bell! It was very impressive! However, it was fairly lengthy and copyright was an issue. Because it would be out there in the world wide web, I realized that I could not publish it. Back to the drawing board!

I then decided on sharing a recipe. I planned the script, adding some background information of where it originated from, what some of the terms meant and the actual recipe itself. I practiced several times to ensure a fluent reading. To begin the recording, I accessed Audacity and recorded, checking the wavelength and listening for controlled expression. I kept it short and simple which had good results.

Next came the most challenging part and that was uploading the MP3 file to a webserver so that it can be accessed by others. This is where I have stalled! Uploading to my blog has also not been successful to date. I have spent an incredible amount of time trying to do this. I have accessed tutorials at Audacity, Googled it, talked to an IT guy at our board, talked to my 'pod person' and still no luck. I can access it on my desktop and I successfully sent it to my 'pod person' who said it sounded great! I have not completely given up but definitely need to take a break from it. I now find that I am becoming very confused. I will return to it at a later time and hopefully I will have gained some insight to enable this very important step to happen!

Podcasting...a Powerful Tool!

'Podcasting is yet another way for students to be creating and contributing ideas to a larger conversation, and it's a way of archiving that contribution for future audiences to use.' -Will Richardson, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts & Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom.

According to Charles Doe in The Podcasting Phenomenon (MultiMedia & Internet@Schools, Nov/Dec 2007) a podcast is a digital media file distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on computers, portable media players such as iPods and MP3 players.The term is somewhat confusing because it does not actually require an iPod to listen to it.
The word podcasting is a combination of two words, iPod and broadcast. The New Oxford American Dictionary chose 'podcast' as the Word of the Year for 2005, and defined it is as "a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player." Podcasting, according to an article by Milat, Martinez and Jorstad entitled, Podcasting for Your Class(Journal of Physical Education Recreation and Dance, May/June 2007) is a form of personal broadcasting over the internet.

Podcasting has quickly become a powerful Web 2.0 tool. From the digital library of David F. Warlick,(EPN the Education Podcast Network)people equate podcasting to 'radio on demand'. However, it goes on to explain that podcasting has more options with respect to content and programming than radio has. Also, those that listen to podcasts may do so at their convenience and can choose what they want to listen to.

Podcasts have the capability to reach a wide audience both inside and outside the regular school day. The whole world can become potential listeners and can subscribe to a podcast through an RSS feed. Podcasting is indeed a powerful tool!

'The speed at which podcasting is spreading is phenomenal! This versatile technology is entering the educational arena almost as fast as it entered the technology mainstream a while ago.'- Charles Doe, The Podcasting Phenomenon
(Multimedia & Internet@Schools, Nov/Dec 2007)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cindy meets a Pod Person!

I had heard of the phenomenon 'podcasting' but really didn't have a clue until I went to a Technology Fair a couple of months ago. A couple of 'techies' were giving a mini podcasting demonstration so I decided to check it out. I quickly discovered that they were inexperienced and unsure of how things worked. I questioned whether I could actually do one myself, as they were involved in an AISI project - The 21st Century Learner and using all kinds of technology and yet here they were struggling.

Then I met a 'Pod Person'! She was cool, enthusiastic and knowledgeable! By then my head was spinning but she managed to explain things more clearly and I could see the potential in podcasting. Some words of advise that she gave me were to check some podcasts out, create one myself and then work with students on creating their own podcasts. Although it is two months later, here I am following her advise.

Because it had been awhile, I felt I needed to be reintroduced to podcasting. I went to YouTube and listened to NIU- What is a Podcast? which you too can listen to now with a click of your mouse!

I would recommend listening to this clip and using it as a brief introduction to podcasting. It was very informative and reviewed and clarified some key elements of creating a podcast.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Final Thoughts on Social Bookmarking

With this Web 2.0 tool comes some concerns and issues that as educators we need to address. When users tag/categorize their information, they are doing what in the past 'expert catalogers' would have done and some people may question their ability and the accuracy of the tags. According to Laura Gordon-Mumane in, Social Bookmarking, Folksonomies, and Web 2.0 Tools (2006)Folksonomies are current and capture the rapid changes in the popular world while traditional classification schemes take longer to adapt to changing trends, languages, fads, and daily news. She goes on to discuss folksonomies as being self-moderating and inclusive. In contrast, there are those who feel that the use of controlled vocabularies is important. Without controlled vocabulary, it is argued in Mumane's article that folksonomies and tagging are imprecise, ambiguous, overly personal, and inexact.
Mumane concludes with the argument that we should utilize the knowledge created by expert catalogers and information professionals and make better, more formal, more accessible tools that make it easier to find new materials, help us locate older materials and build new data collections and online tools.

In the Library Journal article, by Rethlefsen Tags Help Make Libraries (2007)Social bookmarking and tagging tools help librarians bridge the gap between the library's need to offer authoritative, well-organized information and their patron's web experience. Social bookmarking sites like according to Rethlefsen lets users bookmark suitable web pages for themselves and others, check out what others bookmark and organize bookmarks in one place. Web 2.0 tool of social bookmarking meets and effectively interfaces with the library!

As teachers, we look for tools to support and help us with our teaching. One such tool is Social Bookmarking. It helps us organize, store, retrieve and manage all kinds of information. Social Bookmarking empowers searching and locating of new and old resources.

'Web 2.0 tools harness the collective intelligence of the Web and, by tapping into that intelligence, make the services better and more powerful'.(L.Mumane 2007)
Social Bookmarking is one such tool!

Let's All Learn to 'Share'!

The educational benefits and classroom applications are numerous for social bookmarking. The Web2tutorial at listed a number of possibilities;
- teachers could network with other educators around the globe who share their interests.
- as TLs we could create social bookmark accounts for our school's academic departments. Teachers within the department could all contribute to the growing database of web resources.
- school staff could contact other people for professional networking, based on their social bookmarks.
- classrooms could collaborate on projects with other schools, sharing bookmarks
- the TL or classroom teacher could choose specific sites and bookmark them. Their students could go directly to a bookmark that supports a concept or research project instead of the student 'Googling' and trying to wade through all the irrelevant information.

Will Richardson in Taming the Beast(2007) discussed having collaborative groups, classrooms or districts decide on a unique tag that everyone can use when they bookmark something of interest. He gave the fascinating example of a AP(Advanced Placement) calculus class in Winnipeg who when students found an interesting and useful site about calculus, they would bookmark it at with the tag 'apcalc06'. He goes on to say that not only are they collecting sites for themselves, they are collaboratively building a classroom resource.

I am quite interested and curious to know more about social bookmarking for books. Richardson briefly discusses this idea using Library Thing or Shelfari bookmarks. You first start a free account that allows you to create an online catalog of all of the books in your school library, and then add notes, descriptions and tags that describe what they are about. You then get connected to everyone else who has tagged that book and you would be able to view their comments, see the other books in their library and get ideas for what to read next. I think it has possibilities... has anyone heard of this before or done this?

Through collaboration and sharing teachers and students do benefit from utilizing social bookmarking tools. is delightful

There are many social bookmarking tools out there such as Furl, Diigo, Blinklist, Ma.gnolia and Raw Sugar to name a few. Ronda shared a website in her blog that evaluated the top 10 social bookmarking tools. The author, Alex Iskol indicated that dominated the social bookmarking market.

As you may have guessed, I chose as my social bookmarking site as it is one of the most popular and well known book marking sites. Joshua Schachter is the creator of this tool that was launched in 2003. Laura Gordon-Mumane in her article entitled Social Bookmarking, Folksonomies and Web 2.0 Tools -Searcher, June 2006 (Proquest Education Journals)explains that Schachter needed a more sophisticated bookmarking tool to handle his large and growing collection of links. (Sound familiar?) He needed a better tool which would enable him to retrieve both his favorite and most frequently used links, as well as information less frequently used, but still important to him when he needed it. Hence, was introduced as the social bookmarking tool to use. was user friendly and quick to set up. After I signed up, I went to the next step of uploading two buttons to my browser, a 'tag' button and a 'shortcut to' button. Next,I went to my 'Favorites' in my browser to bookmark a few articles. The process was straight forward, with a few tags assigned and a brief note about the article, I was successful at bookmarking. A few hours later when I checked back there were others that had bookmarked some of my articles for themselves (the 'social' part of bookmarking). When I clicked on their names under users I could view all of their bookmarks. I must admit, I was totally amazed and enthralled! With just a click the web opens up to you and I can locate related information that has been tagged by other users. is indeed delightful!!

Tagging and Folksonomies

Tagging and folksonomy are terms that are affiliated with social bookmarking.I feel that they require some clarification in order to better understand how and why social bookmarking functions so effectively.
Will Richardson in his article Taming the Beast in School Library Journal(March 2007)retrieved from ProQuest, stated that the operating principle behind social bookmarking, tagging and folksonomies is if you find something interesting enough to save, odds are good that others will too and together using these tools we can build resource lists much more effectively than just working alone. I equate it to having your own personal support group. He went on to explain how tags work, that they are keywords that help you identify what a site is about. He gave a simple example of bookmarking Romeo and Juliet and adding tags such as 'Shakespeare', 'theatre', 'Romeo_and_Juliet' which would be used to retrieve the information. With tagging, there comes controversy as to the appropriatness of some tags, which I will discuss in another section of my blog.
Now, according to Richardson comes the really cool part!
The social bookmarking site where you have saved those tags becomes connected to similarly tagged content by other users. It's a 'homegrown taxonomy' for the Web, a 'folksonomy'. Folksonomy is a term created by the information architect Thomas VanderWal and combines the people or 'folks-y' approach to building a taxonomy. A user tags a video, image, bookmark or text in order to remember it later and then that information is added to the global tag cloud and helps to build a folksonomy.
I can definitely see that tagging, folksonomy and social bookmarking are interrelated. Using to tag a favorite '7 Things you should know about Social Bookmarking' has resulted in 495 other people who share my interest in this topic which is now a folksonomy! Amazing and fascinating!!

The Mystic of Social Bookmarking!

What is social bookmarking? Why would I access a social bookmarking site? How do I access it? How can social bookmarking help me with my learning and teaching? These were questions that I pondered as I began my exploration of the Web 2.0 tool of social bookmarking.

First I went to Wikipedia (I have never used it and was curious as to how they would explain social bookmarking and how accurate it was), the free encyclopedia to get an explanation of what social bookmarking is and found that; ‘social bookmarking is a method for Internet users to store, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web pages on the Internet with the help of metadata. In a social bookmarking system, users save links to web pages that they want to remember and/or share. These bookmarks are usually public, and can be saved privately, shared only with specified people or groups, shared only inside certain networks, or another combination of public and private domains. The allowed people can usually view these bookmarks chronologically, by category or tags, or via a search engine. Most social bookmark services encourage users to organize their bookmarks with informal tags instead of the traditional browser-based system of folders, although some services feature categories/folders or a combination of folders and tags. They also enable viewing bookmarks associated with a chosen tag, and include information about the number of users who have bookmarked them. Some social bookmarking services also draw inferences from the relationship of tags to create clusters of tags or bookmarks. Many social bookmarking services provide web feeds for their lists of bookmarks, including lists organized by tags. This allows subscribers to become aware of new bookmarks as they are saved, shared, and tagged by other users.’ In summary, social bookmarking is a tool used to manage and share information on the web.I decided to continue my research to varify what Wikipedia had stated.

I then accessed ‘Social Bookmarking in Plain English’ on YouTube. This provided a brief overview of social bookmarking and helped to make sense of how it works. The video clip was fun to watch, well organized and gave an effective explanation of social bookmarking.I now knew the necessary steps to take sign up for my own account and how to effectively use a social bookmarking site. This will be discussed later in my blog.

According to Social Bookmarking 101 – What is Social Bookmarking and How Can it Help Me? ( if you have ever e-mailed a friend or family member and sent them a link to a website that they might find interesting, you are participating in social bookmarking. It is comparable to taking a book mark in your Favourites and sending it out to the web. This article goes on to say that not only can you save your favourite websites and send them to your friends and colleagues, you can also look at what other people have found and tagged because they felt they would be of interest to others. Social bookmarking allows you to target the internet for only what you are interested in seeing, as it narrows down specific items for you. Social bookmarking enables you to stay current and only view relevant information. With social bookmarking you do not need to type in a subject to a search engine and then flip through copious results. Instead, you go to a social bookmarking site, choose a category or a tag and then you will be able to find the most popular websites. You can take this a step further with social bookmarking and add bookmarks, saved by others, to your own collection as well as subscribe to the list of others. Now I clearly understood the simplicity and implications of social bookmarking. The mystic of social bookmarking has disappated!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Let's Get Serious Now!

YouTube is open to a wide range of users. Some are eager to share their own personal lives and viewpoints. Others want to meet new people and interact online through watching and sharing videos.
I was somewhat dismayed at the subject matter of some of the clips. Security and appropriateness of material became a concern of mine. Do young people have access to the questionable material? The short answer is yes, due to the fact that you can sign in and lie about your age when setting up an account. What are the implications for schools? I know that in Calgary, the public high schools can access YouTube and close monitoring is not always occurring. The filter levels at the Elementary level and Junior High level prevent students from accessing YouTube in the school setting. A teacher can override the security level for a student for educational purposes but that rarely occurs.
The implications for teaching and learning are varied and valuable. On the Educase Learning Initiative website,( an article written in September 2006 examined the role of YouTube at the school level. According to this article,and I would believe the majority would agree, YouTube enhances students' visual literacy through viewing videos and through discussions. The article goes on to say that the application itself enourages experimentation with new media which develops a deeper understanding of the subject and the tools used to create the content. Students are exposed to new insights and skills which link them to a variety of online communities. As well, it discusses the fact that YouTube as a social network is replacing passive learning with active participation, where everyone has a voice, anyone can contribute and a network of learners form around content and support one another in learning. The potential to use YouTube as a teaching/learning tool is great but there needs to be a plan in place to ensure that students are able to critically analyze material for appropriateness and know how to effectively utilize it and apply it to their learning and education.

Another video-sharing service was discussed in a few other blogs called TeacherTube. According to their website, the goal of Teacher Tube is to provide an online community for sharing instructional videos. Their aim is to provide an educationally focused, safe venue for teachers, schools, and home learners. It is a site to provide professional development with teachers teaching teachers. As well, it is a site where teachers can post videos designed for students to view in order to learn a concept or skill.
I had heard of it and decided to take a look at what it had to offer. I found it easy to navigate and decided that for the elementary level it had alot of potential. So much so that I set up an account with them too. I decided to take a look at some science topics and chose one on machines called 'Screws are Amazing Machines'.Grade Two students would be highly entertained and develop a better understanding of screws by time this musical video was done! Researching applicable topics to the curriculum would be more straightforward and age appropriate when using TeacherTube.
The possibilities are endless and I intend to go to school tommorrow, check to see that I can access TeacherTube and start some students exploring for applicable video clips on time, and the calendar.

Video sharing is a part of the world of our 21st Century learners and we need to take advantage of this tool to access information and support student learning.

Sign Me Up!

Myself and millions of my 'very close' friends have signed up for YouTube. It was easy to get an account, free and now I can rate other videos, upload videos and leave comments. Other 'fun' things I can do: upload and share my own videos worldwide, browse millions of original videos uploaded by my 'very close' friends, seek out and create video groups who have similar tastes, customize my experience with playlists and subscriptions and integrate YT with my website using videos embeds.
I am into it already. I have started listing some favorites on my own 'aCuriousCat' YouTube account, uploaded a video clip for information purposes on this blog and I left a comment about a video clip that I previewed on YouTube. I first saw this clip of Rick Mercer and Prime Minister Harper on T.V. and it made it to YouTube. I chuckle everytime I see it.

I must admit, I have spent countless hours looking at YouTube and having way too much fun!! I can understand now how students become addicted to it.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

YouTube Enters my Life!

I began my exploration of video-sharing sites by initially focusing on YouTube, because it is the most popular video-sharing service. According to an article in Time Magazine, YouTube became so popular in 2006 because it was both easy and edgy, a rare combination! I chose to get my own account so that I would have access to more videos and be able to post my own video if I was feeling really wild and crazy.

I was curious as to how YouTube began so I searched for a bit of history and came across the following video clip. I hope you enjoy it...

Because my exposure to YouTube is limited as I am in an Elementary school where YouTube is blocked, I decided to discuss with a group of teenagers their involvement with YouTube. The informal survey in an earlier blog was very enlightening! Young people use it for varying reasons but mainly to watch video clips and music clips. I observed them in my home going on YouTube individually and also sharing a particular video for fun or for entertainment. Using YouTube for educational purposes was very limited and will be discussed further on into my blog.