Wait a minute. All I've done is add an audio component to my blog and called it a podcast. That's not the point!
In reading Building a better podcast by Matt Villano in this January's T.H.E. journal, I realized I fell into one of the most common traps of poor podcasting: just sitting in front of a microphone and rambling on about a random subject. Villano argues that organization is key to podcasts, and students making them need to think carefully about their audience, theme, and talking points. Then they need to practice. And me? Well, I think I was so skeptical I could actually get the technology to work, that I didn't really prepare at all!
Villano has a lot of great suggestions for improving the quality of student podcasts, but I want to focus on what he says about consistency. He quotes Bob Sprankle, a technology integrator in Maine: "One podcast is neat and fun, a unique diversion. Do a bunch of podcasts and it becomes something the students look forward to." Villano suggests weaving podcasts into the curriculum by committing to producing a certain number over the school year, and I would agree. Part of the power of podcasting is their syndication. Teachers benefit from subscribing to podcasts that fit their subject or grade level, so why not contribute something regularly to that pool of resources?
In a way then, none of us are really podcasting, no matter how great our subject is, or how well we prepared. To truly get a taste for podcasting, we'd have to do it like we do our blogs, on a regular basis. Maybe in future sections of this course, that could be an option: podcasting rather than blogging.
One final note. I think listening to podcasts could be a great lesson in the critical evaluation of sources. There's a lot out there, and some of it is bound to be questionable... teacher librarians could craft lessons in fact/opinion, author credibility, and information validity with podcasts.