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PodcasterCon2006 : Podcasting as a teaching / learning strategy

Post lunch coma has been delayed so I could jet over to the podcasting teaching and learning session. Warlick is moderating this one. You can read the session notes here.

Dave is point out that kids are connecting to each other in new ways, and they’re used to connecting to each other at all times. He refers to the connections between them as tentacles. They don’t realize it, but they’re reaching out to other people and resources all the time, in all things that their doing. Their life revolves around being connected and hooked in. However, when they enter the classroom, we chop off their tentacles. We do it so they’ll be the type of students that we want to teach. So we take away their cell phones, their instant messengers, and their ability to connect with anything besides the text book and the teacher.

Interesting thought. Gotta come back to that one. I know how much I hate it when I have my tentacles cut off. I’ve blogged it many times. Last session, I was visiting web sites and checking things out as soon as anything was mentioned. This session is in a different hall and I can’t get a connection. It’s frustrating. And for lack of a better way to define this, I feel like I could be learning more if I had access to the internet to keep reaching out with this tentacles as we all discuss things.

Alright, no griping about lack of wifi. It’s UNC’s fault, not the conferences.

Dave is showing a video from a very neat project. A teacher assigned the students the task of creating a movie trailer for the play, Othello. How fun is that? And think about how much synthesis and critical thinking needs to occur for somebody to understand the essence of the a piece of literature and communicate it well to others. Interestingly, the teacher didn’t present it as a graded project. She told them that she needed a way to introduce the play to next years students to generate some excitement. As you might imagine, the kids took the idea and ran with it. Sounds like a great twist on traditional digital storytelling.

Well, I wound up holding a microphone for Dave and running up to people who had some things to share, so I could blog the rest of the session. However, I can say that there was some great conversation going on and when Dave releases the recording of it, it’d be worth checking out. I had a great deal of fun and learned quite a bit.

I think that just might be the theme of my blog: enjoying the learning process. In the immortal words of Will Richardson, “Have I mentioned how fun this all is?”

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Unfortunately I couldn’t post this yesterday, never quite found an internet connection the rest of the day. So just a couple quick follow up notes about that specfic session. There was some really great conversation going. People who were asking some good quesitons and bringing up pertinent issues. While I don’t think we solved any of the problems, I think we identified them pretty darn well. If the group ‘accomplished’ anything, I’d say there are definitely many more educators, parents, and students who have a much clearer understanding of how podcasting can fit into this crazy education system that we have. They’re also a little more confident that it CAN be done, and that they can actually do it themselves. I think a lot of people felt pretty empowered after teh session.

I think the most interesting moment for me was during a conversation that we had about the obstacles that need to be overcome for podcasting to be used in a school. People were listing off technical obstacles, financial, the learning curve, and I threw “fear” into the mix. Quite simply, a lot of people are afraid of new technology because they don’t understand what it is, what the benefits are and what the risk is. There was a parent in the crowd who had a teenager who’s been podcasting. She said that she came to the Con because she knew that they were podcasting, but she really just didn’t understand what it was or whether she should even be worried about it. Pure and simple, she was afraid and wanted to know more so she could determine whether her fears were justified or not. I’d be curious to hear directly from her what her thoughts were by the end of the Con, but from her comments during our session, it certainly sounded like her fear was turning into pride. She was beginning to recognize that her teen was part of a much larger world and had taken his learning into his own hands. And that was a good thing.

People often fear the things they don’t understand. So if you’re thinking about getting blogging or podcasting going in your school, don’t forget to address that obstacle first, before you tell your administration that your going to start doing something they don’t understand.