microphoneAnother media specialist recently emailed me to ask about our state library association’s book award podcasts. She stated she knows nothing about “pod casts” and asked “do you download them to an MP3 player?” This got me thinking – as I’d jumped all over podcasts a number of years ago and have been happily downloading them religiously, especially for educational uses. However, it was only this year that I seriously wanted to produce “something.” The SC Young Adult Book Award (YABA) program gave me the chance by allowing me and the Wagener-Salley HS drama students the opportunity to produce the podcasts for this years Young Adult Book Award Nominees. [More on that in a minute.]

Jumping back to the question: If the lady who asked me about podcasts is reading this, please don’t feel bad about not knowing who, what, why, where, when, how to’s of podcasting. You are definitely not alone. Even I am not a definitive source of knowledge on the subject and could not fully explain it in all it’s wonderful glory in one blog post. However, for a quick and dirty explanation, here is a video by Common Craft that explains “Podcasting in Plain English.

While the Common Craft show focuses on personal learning or entertainment podcasts, there are numerous out there that are useful in the K-12 setting both in and out of the classroom. And there are some not so educational podcasts being produced, too. As with anything you want to incorporate into your classrooms you need to view/listen to the podcasts first. Yes, podcasts can be viewed if they are a video podcast. If you’re new to podcasts, I recommend downloading iTunes and exploring their podcast pages. Also take a look at the iTunes U pages as those are specifically educational podcasts. Not every podcast out in Internet Land is listed there, but it at least give you some idea of what you can find.

Back to the 2008-2009 Book Award Nominee podcasts. You can find the links to all of the podcasts for each category (picture, children, junior, and young adult) on the SCASL website. Click on the “Book Awards” menu option and then choose the type of Book Award you want to view. They have an RSS reader icon on their podcast pages so you could subscribe to them in your RSS reader (Google Reader, Bloglines, etc.) HOWEVER, the files are all there as downloadable MP3s that you can save to your computer. They should open up in either Quicktime or Windows Media Player depending upon your computer (Mac/Windows). You can also transfer the downloaded files to your MP3 player.

Another option for the Young Adult Book Award Nominee titles is to subscribe to the podcasts via my school’s podcast page: The Journey Begins… I’m in the process of putting all of the YABA Award episodes there with descriptions, cover art, and in such a way as to allow subscribing directly via iTunes. What’s taking me so long is getting the descriptions typed and giving the media specialist who wrote each booktalk the credit they so richly deserve. I hope to continue to add newer titles once all of the YABA books have been posted. However, since that means I have to write the booktalks, don’t expect them too regularly!

I’ve also been asked how did I produce the podcasts. Well, I “cheated.” I have a Mac! With Garageband! I simply opened Garageband, chose to create a podcast (or create new podcast episode) and had the students read the booktalks provided by the committee members. My Mac comes with a built in microphone, however, some of the podcasts were produced with the new Blu Snowball USB microphone

YABA Podcast Logo

I purchased. Garageband also has jingles that you can use in podcasts. I recorded and saved an introduction that I included on all of the podcasts (next time I’ll change it to a conclusion as I’m sure the subscribers are tired of hearing my voice saying the same thing over and over and over!) I simply pieced together the different parts of each episode (music, intro, booktalk, music) and shared it as an MP3 file. For the school podcast page, I shared it to my iWeb page. The Mac did almost all of the work for me.

One thing I’m disappointed with SCASL’s podcast page for YABA is that they didn’t use the graphic I created for the podcasts. It tells a story and then the music I chose makes more sense when you hear it.

In my next post I’ll share some of the podcasts that I subscribe to and enjoy.