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Brenda's Blog

Podcasting Connects Students to
New Ways of Learning.

Last week was my turn for some inspiring professional development.

Since 2000, I have been a teacher-editor with Midlink Magazine, an education e-zine that models the integration of technology into the classroom and profiles exemplary technology-supported project work from creative classrooms around the globe.

As sponsors of MidLink Magazine, North Carolina State University and The Friday Institute recently brought the MidLink teacher-editors to Raleigh, North Carolina, for our semi-annual face-to-face editorial meeting. While there, I not only sat in on some mind-stretching PD sessions about emerging technology tools and their place in the classroom, but I met MidLink magazine's newest teacher-editor, Joselyn Todd, a middle school teacher at Cary Academy in Cary, North Carolina.

Joselyn's first teaching love is science, with technology integration a close second. That partnership between science and technology has led Joselyn to explore emerging classroom technologies, a recent one being the use of podcasts. For those unfamiliar with the tool, a podcast can be likened to a radio program except podcasts re created by people like you and me, and they're posted on the Internet. People from all walks of life make and listen to podcasts. In fact, news has it that more than 35,000 podcasts are currently posted on the Internet, with the number increasing daily.

Joselyn is one of educations pioneer podcasters. She has used podcasts to deliver her grade 7 science program and to address the diverse learning needs of her middle school learners. At the end of each day, Joselyn creates a 5-minute podcast about what was studied that day in science class. That podcast is downloaded automatically to her students computers. (Cary Academy has one-to-one computing). Students use the podcast to review the days work, do their homework, or study for an upcoming test.

When Joselyn is absent from school, she puts her science lesson on a podcast, and when students get to school, they are taught the science topic for the day by Joselyn...via the podcast. The substitute teacher is there to help students with their work and to manage the classroom.

Joselyn has extended the use of podcasts by designing assignments in which students are required to create their own podcasts to demonstrate their learning. An outstanding example of that is her assignment, The Plug It In Podcast Project, a project that teaches students the fine art of podcasting while focusing on electricity topics. To prepare for the podcasts, students research their topics and develop scripts. What those 7th grade students came up with is truly amazing.

Joselyns recent project, Podcasts From the Heart sent students looking for family members who have experienced heart disease or heart related maladies. Serving as a culminating project for a 7th grade unit on the structure and function of the cardiovascular system, Podcasts From the Heart" combined the cognitive and affective domains as students applied their understanding about the cardiovascular system, wrote scripts, interviewed grandparents and other individuals, and then used audio files of their interviews to create podcasts with the free audio editing program, Audacity.

Educators like Joselyn Todd are taking advantage of the learning benefits that emerging technologies offer forward thinking teachers. Venturing out on their own, with few classroom examples to follow, those educators are leading the way, making a solid instructional path for the rest of us to follow.

Author Name: Brenda Dyck
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Updated 04/30/2011