Saturday, October 13, 2007

tt4t_007 From Podcasts to Podfading: Revoultion and Evolution - Episode 7

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It’s Saturday, October 13, 2007 and welcome to Episode 7 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. It can be overwhelming trying to keep up with the rapid pace of new technologies that can help teachers in the classroom. Most teachers I know want to keep current on new trends and technologies but time is always a factor in learning new things, especially for busy educators. I have been having several conversations with faculty at both the K-12 and higher education levels about what tools they should be using. I get asked a lot about what technology tool they should be learning more about. Of course that depends upon the individual situation and what educational goals the teacher hopes to accomplish. My advice, select a tool of interest and begin to learn about that tool, do not wait for the perfect technology to come along because that will be long wait. Let your instructional objectives determine the tool of choice. Too often it is the other way around and that gives educational technology a bad reputation and rightly so. Educators often get caught up in the hype of a new gadget that suddenly becomes the answer to everyones prayers. The new gadget gets praise from the high priests of the technology kingdom and futurists prognosticate that the gadget changes everything and that a new revolution is born. Some educators believe if they hold out long enough the latest technology fad will go away and I am sad to say that in many cases they are correct. Will the podcasting craze subcumb to this fate?

Podcasting didn’t even become a word until 2004 and it took less than a year for another word to be added to the lexicon of tech terminology, that word is podfading. Podfading is a word used to describe a podcaster that is very enthusiastic about podcasting in the beginning but over time the enthusiasm fades as the novelty wears off. The podcasters’ podcasts become fewer and farther between episodes and possibly even dies. Only two years ago podcasting became the word of the year in 2005 as chosen by the New Oxford American Dictionary. As is the case with many technologies the enthusiasm wanes as time goes by.

Podfading Takes Its Toll (Wired Magazine)

Those of us that have the blessing or curse of measuring our educational experience in decades are aware of this phenomena. As each new “tech toy” enters the fray many jump on the bandwagon. How do we go from toy to tool? I submit that we are enduring an evolution rather than revolution and should realize that this is a marathon and not a sprint. The problem is when you are rallying the troops for change to address the needs of 21st Century learners participating in a revolution is much more desirable and exciting than participating in an evolution. Yet progress takes time. A revolution has a sense of urgency to it. Educators should feel a sense of urgency as change is all around us and change we must to remain relevant for todays students. We must also give considerable thought to the implementation of new technologies in the classroom and not just have some knee-jerk reaction to whatever technology is in vogue at the moment.

When a new technology comes along ask yourself:
Does this new technology have an educational purpose?
Is it a toy or a tool?
Does this new technology offer something better than what I am currently doing?
Does this new technology make me more efficient and effective as a teacher?
Does this new technology help students learn more efficiently and effectively?
What is the price/reward ratio of using this technology?
Can this new technology be implemented on a wide-scale economically feasible for schools?

As I have said many times before technology allows teachers to do different things, not just to do things differently. For the most part when a new innovation comes along we adapt it to do something we are already doing. It takes time to find new effective ways to use the technology. What is the difference between accessing a sound file from a webpage verses listening to it on a MP3 player. Is not the end educational result the same? Before the web came along audio content was delivered to the masses via CD’s and before that cassette tapes. The technology has been evolving for years, the revolution lies in the way content can now be distributed and the fact that everyone can be an author if they so choose. Digitizing content allows for mass distribution with little or no cost and offers the possibility of democratizing content. In addition this distribution is immediate and on demand, dare I say just-in-time?
Do I think podcasts are going to go away? Absolutely not, but I would also suggest that podcasting is an evolution and it will take some time to find more effective ways to utilize podcasts in the classroom.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

Sesame Street Podcasts
My Technology Pick of the week this week is for the younger crowd and is a new podcast from Sesame Street. For an entertaining read go to the link in my show notes about how Sesame Street is providing free podcasts to viewers. Currently the podcasts are in video form where they are re-purposing old content to new media. Here is the kicker, this website was announced September 17th of this year and by September 28th Sesame Street announced in a press release stating they were now #1 in the iTunes ranking of video podcasts! That is simply amazing, ten days from zero podcasts on iTunes to being ranked #1. That is the power of new distribution methods.

It is amusing to be reading about RSS feeds and explanations about what a podcast is from this website. My only suggestion is to have Big Bird and Cookie Monster explain RSS feeds to me. We can now say that podcasting has gone from Sesame Street to Main Street.

Links to the Sesame Street podcasting website, the news release, and other resources discussed in Episode 7 are provided in the show notes available at that’s techtalk the number 4

That wraps it up for this week until next time this is Tom Grissom , keep on learning.

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