Saturday, November 3, 2007

tt4t_010 The Long Tail

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It’s Saturday, November 3, 2007 and welcome to Episode 10 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. This episode marks a small milestone for this show as this is the 10th episode of TechTalk4Teachers. Hurray, we made it to double digits! According to Rob Walch of podcast411 one out of five podcast do not make it past the 10th episode. I made myself a promise to give this show a semester and re-evaluate at the end of the semester. If you find value from these shows please let me know. As with most podcasters we are truly interested in what our listeners think and love to hear from others.

In a previous episode I discussed podfading and how podfading has entered the vocabulary of podcasters. It is easy to get excited about educational technologies when they are in the novelty stage. It is much tougher to cut through the hype and utilize the technologies in a sound pedagogical manner to the benefit of teachers and students. Another thing that I have noticed about many of the successful longer lasting podcasts is that they evolved over time to fill a niche. This is a consequence of taking advantage of what has become known as the “long tail” that podcasting and other Web 2.0 technologies can target to be successful. The long tail is a statistical term that refers to the end areas of a power curve distribution where a small number of the population is represented. In professional markets broadcasters target the middle of the curve where most of the population is represented. The corporate media typically does not concern itself with the small numbers of the long tail and thus provides an opportunity for podcasters to serve this audience.

Successful podcasts, at least the ones that are well known, must also actively market their product so that podcasting directories pick up their coverage. This is something I have yet to do. Finding time to do a weekly podcast is challenging enough, throwing in time to market a podcast is beyond the resources most podcasters have. There is also a certain distaste that many feel regarding marketing efforts and many educators are uncomfortable with shameless self-promotion. That being said I do need to investigate further the requirements to be listed in iTunes and other directories. From what I currently understand all that is required for registering with iTunes is an iTunes account that requires a credit card. Why do you need to give out credit card information if all you want to do is register your podcast? This requirement can be a showstopper for many that do not want to give out credit card information over the Internet. If anyone has recently registered their podcast with iTunes please let me know the process you used and if you were satisfied with the results. You can email me at

I have also been reading several articles and listening to other podcasts about the misnomer of the word podcast. Listener statistics indicate that approximately 70 to 80 percent of all podcasts are listened to using a computer and not the branded MP3 players as the name implies. Are you listening to this podcast using your computer or your MP3 player? Adam Curry, the podfather himself, has reconsidered the definition of podcasting and has stated that while RSS feeds and subscriptions were in the original technical description of podcasting this has not turned out to be the reality for the majority of consumers of podcasts. While the iPod has captured the lions share of the publicity there is increasing competition which is a good thing. The evolution continues and while educators are sorting out effective uses of the technology the past has some important lessons to learn from. The podcast directories need to be much better and easier to contribute to. The MP3 players also need to be less expensive. More high-quality podcast choices are needed in niche markets such as education. This will all come with time as the technologies mature.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology pick of the week this week is a successful podcast series that now has over 100 shows to their credit. The show was formerly known as Podcasts for Teachers but has recently changed the showname to The Teachers Podcast. The shows host Dr. Kathy King and Mark Gura are from Fordham University in New York and were early adopters of podcasting. Their format is similar to a NPR radio show covering educational technology developments and often have guest interviews with educators in the know about educational technologies. I encourage you to give them a listen as they are entertaining and informative. A link is provided in the show notes for both the old show and new show locations.

That about wraps it up for this episode of TechTalk4Teachers, until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

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