This morning, I've been looking at Podcasting (a combination of iPod + broadcasting), thanks to Barbara Ganley's post on the subject on her excellent blog, bgblogging. Thanks to Barbara, I read this
great introduction to podcasting by Brian Lamb of the University of British Columbia, which made me wonder just how I could (and if I should) introduce some of my students to podcasting. As far as I know, I don't have any students who have an i-pod, but...
...depending on the class, a large proportion of them (90% I'd say) do seem to use personal MP3 players.
As Brian Lamb says, the "success of Apple's iPod (and a host of other portable and mobile devices capable of storing, playing and now recording sound files) means that audio can now be accessed by the user anytime, anywhere."
He also notes that "the emergence of new tools that allow an individual to create and share sound files quickly and inexpensively, without specialized expertise."
These tools include Audacity, an open source audio tool that lets users play and record sounds; cut, copy and paste; mix tracks and apply effects.
Podcasting uses the power of RSS to enable automatic downloading to an iPod or computer.
Brian Lamb notes the following educational uses of podcasting: "distance education, self-paced learning, language instruction, aiding students with learning and/or other disabilities, and facilitating guest speakers", but also adds that this list is bound to be enlarged, especially as podcasting has just begun.
So, how could I use podcasting with my EFL students, and what benefits might there be in it?
a) My first idea was to use it with a summer school class. We always organise projects, and one of the projects that is typically produced by a class is a radio programme. The problem with this project is always one of audience. What usually happens is that the students get to take a cassette of the programme away with them at the end of the summer school, or that other classes are invited to listen to the programme the last day of the project or summer school. Maybe podcasting, making the radio programme available on the Internet for other students to download and listen to would be a good idea of increasing motivation, and also may well produce something that other teachers / students can benefit from.
I think what I'd like to do is to connect with another class in another country doing the same thing , and to swap podcasts at the end of the project, if this is possible. Now, I'm sure that would engage the students. Thinking bigger, wouldn't it be great to have an EFL/ESL podcasting project website? A bit like the ipodder site? A place where teachers can upload / download 'programmes' produced by classes of students around the world? Would this work?
Here are some more links that are worth looking at:
How to Podcast