Being producers of our own podcasts, I often forget that there are so many free podcasts already available to us in iTunes. There are video as well as audio podcasts. Some are great for students, and some are great for your own professional development. We’ve started to gather some here of various subjects. All can be subscribed to in iTunes.
One area that I want to explore more is iTunes U. This is a great introduction video to check out. If you have a desire to learn about a topic, this is the place to go! And no tuition is required even from some of the most prestigious universities on the planet. iTunes U would be a great match for high school. It also is a wonderful professional development opportunity for specific content teachers.
And you don’t need an iPod to access any of these resources. iTunes is a free download to a computer. Therefore, a classroom computer could become a listening station for a student. Add an inexpensive headphone splitter, and two students can listen together.
Splitters also work great with iPods, doubling iPod accessibility. And if you only have one iPod, you could invest in a RockStar. Ask students to bring in his/her own earbuds (cost effective for you and healthier for them!), and you have a center for a small group of students (up to five). (Management tip for elementary: we have students keep their earbuds in a labeled baggie in their desks.)
Of course, it’s extremely motivating when students create their own podcasts, and they can be loaded in a computer’s iTunes library and even synced to an iPod. You can’t beat the sense of pride and accomplishment that students feel when their work is being shared. Students love checking out each other’s work as well. However, this should not be a passive activity. Students should have a purpose to listen (and watch) whether it’s a classmate’s creation or a podcast from another resource. If the podcast is being accessed on a site, usually the site is equipped to accept comments for the author. However, if the podcast is in a computer’s iTunes or on an iPod, feedback or reflections need to happen in a different way. Many teachers create a simple worksheet for students to fill out as they listen. Often there are three “generic” questions. 1) Which podcast did you listen to? 2) What is one thing that you learned from this podcast? 3) What is one thing that the podcast creator did well? If you want to be green or collect this feedback for easy analysis in a spreadsheet, a Google Form could be utilized. (Check out a previous post about Google Forms.) Another idea if you have iPod Touches is to have students give feedback using Notes and email it to the teacher right from the Touch.
Looking for more tips on podcasts and iPods? Tony Vincent’s site (and podcast) Learning In Hand has been very helpful to me.
All in all, if you haven’t been window shopping in the iTunes store recently or ever, it’s worth a look. Go on a free podcast spree.
Do you have any tips, tricks or management ideas? Or favorite podcasts?