I just attended the first day of the Podcast and Portable Media Expo. I learned a lot, and though this wasn’t an education-specific conference, a lot of the ideas presented had educational applications. This is this is the first post of several in which I’ll share what I learned and ideas that grew out of this.
I’ll start with a few overall impressions…. First, podcasting is still a very young (and immature) field. The technology is evolving quickly; most people are still learning the basics; and it’s going to continue to change rapidly for the forseeable future. Second, podcasting for most is a labor of love and a hobby, not a way to make a living. Finally, there are still a lot of technical standards and conventions issues that need to be worked out. Things need to get a little “cleaner” for this to be appealing to the more mainstream non-techie crowd.
Now for some more specifics, starting with the opening key note sessions. The first key note was from Leo Laporte, noted author, radio and podcast host, and one of the conference’s organizers. One of his big points, echoed by many others throughout the conference, was that Apple [iTunes and iPod] is not the only way to listen to podcasts. While he and others professed love for Apple and everything they’ve done for podcasting, he also said that the term podcasting is somewhat of a curse because it makes many think that the iPod is podcasting. In fact, the platform-independence of podcasting is one of its best features. Laporte suggested “netcasting” as a possible alternate term to get people thinking broader.
Laporte also emphasized that this is a NEW medium with new opportunities. He suggested that we seize those opportunities and not make the mistakes of old media. [This reminded me of the challenges we’ve faced in education in trying to move from a textbook-based curriculum to an effective use of technology. Many have simply put textbooks on CDs or online, rather than redesigning the curriculum to take full advantage of technology. I hope we don’t do that with podcasting. An enhanced podcast of a textbook will not be much less boring than a print textbook. Sticking a mic or a video camera in a classroom will not make for the most engaging podcast learning experience. Let’s get a little out of the box and use the technology to jump ahead.]
The next session was by Ron Moore, Executive Producer of Battlestar Galactica and host of its podcast. Moore talked about the use of podcasting as a reflective tool for post-production critical analysis. He said that he uses the podcast to reflect back on what went well in each episode and what didn’t. [My thoughts: What a great way to use podcasting in education….as a professional development tool for teachers to reflect on their teaching practice. Or a podcast for learners to reflect on and synthesize/extend their learning. Of course, you could do this with a blog as well, but for some, just talking (and recording) is faster and a more natural way to reflect (especially if you use a tool like Audioblogger, which lets you record from any phone and then posts directly to a web page ). Using a podcast as a reflection tool is a good way to address different learning styles as well.]
More from this conference to come in future posts.