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!

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