Training Wheels

This past winter, our school district was bit by the podcasting bug. A lot of people were very interested in the technology, and immediately saw all kinds of applications for it. We could podcast our morning announcements. We could podcast board meetings. The principal could podcast messages to the students and parents. We could podcast staff development sessions. We could podcast physics lectures. We could podcast just about everything.

But it’s more complicated than we want it to be. It’s not impossible — and we did manage to get some podcasts online. The process was fairly painless, but required some prerequisite skills. So we tried to go right from the big wheel to the two-wheeler and ended up with a scraped knee.

Let’s look at this a different way. In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee created the first web site. He intended the web to be a collaborative space, where everyone can create and share content, and everyone can make links between different ideas. Five years later, we wired the schools to use this technology. Five years after that, we started encouraging teachers to put information online, to be content providers as well as content consumers. We’re another five years down the road now, and we’re just getting into blogging and online learning, and using tools that make it really easy to put things online.

Podcasting won’t take that long, but maybe we need to work on being podcast consumers before we’re podcast providers. To that end, I’ll be exploring some ways we can use existing podcasts as resources with our students.

In order to take advantage of these resources, it’ll be really helpful for you to know what podcasting is. If you haven’t been reading all of my posts, go back and take a look at What is Podcasting? to get a quick overview. Then put your helmet and knee pads on, and we’ll hop back on the bike.