Enhancing the Distance Learning Experience with Podcasting

This TxDLA session is by Shirley Boyd and Debbie Alston. (Wednesday afternoon; posted Thursday due to lack of Internet access.)

Videoconferencing is all about making connections. Their early connections included a videoconference with students in Iraq.

Podcasting benefits students by finding a way for them to respond to the curriculum, improves their writing schools, improves their self-esteem and gives the students a voice. Can use universal design with the same tools to meet the needs of all students.

We can connect our classrooms one at a time to the world. With podcasting as a follow-up they can become friends with the partner class. As they become friends, we can have peace instead of war because the students understand each other.

You can do an audio podcast, an enhanced podcast with pictures or other content, or a video/vodcast. You could use the interactive whiteboard files to save and export to a podcast.

Examples of how podcasting enhances distance learning from Killeen ISD.
Book reference: Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers: Finding the Rhythm for Differentiated Learning (podcasting creates the beat for different marchers)

1. Snowmen at Night book – about what snowmen do at night. They videoconferenced with a class in New York. The NY kids built a small snowman and brought it inside to show in the videoconference to the students in TX. Then they made little podcast stories of what their snowmen did at night. The classes on both sides made these stories. Each slide in the movie were a kids picture and sentences on what the snowman does at night (goes to the moon, goes to the Alamo, goes to the beach). This was a first grade class. The kids drew their pictures in Pixie of the snowman and the place he went. In some cases the students put their picture on the face of the snowman.

2. Another podcast they did was on the rainforest, also done with Pixie. This one had student narration along with the music. The podcast told about different animals and creatures who live in the rainforest. Debbie says Pixie is the easiest way to make a podcast – even 1st graders can do it.

3. In another podcast, the students had to create a public service announcement about severe weather, a brochure, and a skit for Roxanne’s Texas Twisted Weather (Don Foshee Grant) program. The kids for this project were usually late to school, but for this project they came in at 7:00 every day. They were motivated to come to school! The PSA included tips for preparing for severe weather. The videoconference included a session with the local weather guy (Rusty!) and also a videoconference to share their skit in front of judges.

Someone in the room shared CrazyTalk, a way to get a live image to “talk.”

All these files were saved as MP3s to make into a podcast.

For another session with Belgium, they used a “Huckleberry” which is really a set of mirrors to make your Mac into a desktop videoconference system with the camera pointing out to towards the classroom – the back of the laptop. They used this to desktop VC with the kids in Belgium. They talked together a lot, and finally found out they both have Pixie. So they found an ftp server that they could share files and started to make a collaborative book together with Pixie.

Killeen has many military parents, so they could check in from where they were overseas and see their children’s work as well.

Students write the story, then make a storyboard with the visuals, and then create the podcast. Pixie and Frames both save into any form you want for a podcast server, Ning or Moodle.

The beauty of Pixie and Frames is the ability to save into any format – you can use that instead of fighting with Audacity and other podcasting tools.


Great job Shirley and Debbie!!

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