Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Closer Look at Podcasts

Podcasts oh how I love you!  The whole idea of a podcasts has captured me ever since I heard about them. The fact that you can record yourself, create an episode, and then publish it online for the entire world to hear and download to their individual iPod or other device is incredible.  Just the thought amazed me a few years ago when I heard it, but now it seems a bit outdated in the world of Web 2.0 and a variety of awesome ways to inform people about the information relevant to them.  Podcasts have changed from the straight audio to include enhanced and also video podcasts.  Personally, if I am going to complete a podcast I am going back to the bread and butter of straight audio.  I have done this recently using PodOMatic (A great tool if you have not heard about it for publishing your podcasts).  In fact, here is a link to my most recent podcast on Distributed Learning Communities for class last week.

I'm not a professional podcaster and that is OK.  However, some people do spend a lot more time than I do creating and publishing podcasts on iTunes and a variety of other websites.  For a more complete primer into podcasting look no further than my classmate Tyler's recent post on podcasts at Royal Technology.  He also has some great favorites you might want to look into as well.

As you may have guessed, this week in class Dr. Z asked us to look a bit closer at podcasts and especially those on iTunes.  These people are professionals or semi-pros and they have the right equipment, time, and energy to create great podcasts.  We were asked to look at three podcasts of our choice this week and reflect on them.  Here is what I noticed:

This first podcast publisher description was listed as: Educators & App Enthusiasts Lisa Johnson & Yolanda Barker will guide you through a menu of app-ealing lesson ideas, apptivities, and pedagogical practices.  These two ladies are connected with the Techchef4u website and app.  This website is a great resource for individuals that are looking for free apps – through either method.
This podcast was titled: “iLearn App Development Project.”  This was a really informative podcast about the iLearn group of apps (Check out their website for more information).  This was a really interesting podcast because the show hosts interviewed the development team for iLearn.  I was given a closer look into what app production and publishing looks like in the real world.  This podcast was very relevant to my interests with iPads and the apps that are possible.  I am so used to using the VPP and downloading the apps and trying them out, but I don’t really get into the world of developing, code, and the artwork.  This podcast, although it was an interview, did include a lot of dead air time and in addition there are some odd breaks and pauses.  It almost appeared like they recorded this podcast and did not spend a lot of time editing it.  I did like that they covered some interesting topics and the interview was really informative.  However, I would suggest improving this podcast by cutting out some odd pauses, coughs, and uninteresting pieces.  This is a very long podcast, 37 minutes, but there are some other pieces that I felt could be cut so that it could be a bit tighter.  Overall, this is a good listen and the hosts do a great job.  If you want to hear about apps, listen directly to app developers, and hear about integration of apps into the curriculum.  Then this is the podcast for you!

The second podcast publisher description was listed as: The enhanced AAC edition of the show for Mac Geeks by Mac Geeks. We cover everything Macintosh. Keep up to date on the latest Mac news, topics and rumors. Throw in a good dose of helpful tips and listener questions and feedback and you have the MacCast. Enjoy!
The podcast that I listened to was titled: “eMaccast 2012.05.15.”  This was a really interesting podcast because it covered a great deal of information about the rumors, updates, and tips on everything Mac.  This specific episode also interviewed the author of “Paperless," David Sparks.  It was a great interview and overall this podcast was very informative.  The huge number of tips, tricks, and overall rumors about Apple intrigued me.  This is a very relevant topic for me because I do have to oversee and manage over 500 Apple devices on a daily basis.  It is a lot to do and having a few tips and tricks always makes life easier.  What I really enjoyed about this podcast was the relevancy of the information and how the podcast was enhanced.  It had links and images in addition to the talking.  This allowed me to get a copy of the author’s book and click on other topics for more information.  What I did not like about this podcast was that it was extremely long, 1 hour and 24 minutes.  Some of the items the host talked through when I really thought it may have been better for his listeners to click a link, because it is an enhanced podcast, and read up.  This would have offered an alterative to hearing him go through step by step instructions on an audio podcast.  I think that if the host did this with his podcast it would make the length a bit shorter and more manageable for the listeners.  The only suggestion I have is for the host to continue discussing interesting and not redundant Apple news, as many of his listeners probably already have an eye on the forums and chats available about Apple, and to keep the length of the podcasts a bit shorter.  It is hard to dedicate an hour and a half to a podcast that is one person talking.  There was not a lot of volume change, audio transitions, or anything else to signify the switch between topics.  This might be an easy way to break up the length and help the editing as well.  This was an interesting podcast and the trends and rumors about Apple are something that every technology director that has OS and iOS devices in their districts should be paying attention to on a daily if not weekly basis.  

The third podcast publisher description was listed as: “What should future schools look like? How do brains learn? Some of the world's greatest educators, researchers, and community leaders share their stories and visions onstage at the TED conference, TEDx events and partner events around the world.”
The podcast that I listed to was titled: “Joe Sabia: The technology of storytelling.”  In it iPad storyteller Joe Sabia introduced me to Lothar Meggendorfer, who created a bold technology for storytelling – the pop-up book. Sabia showed how new technology has always helped us tell our own stories, from the walls of caves to his own onstage iPad.  This was a very interesting podcast because Sabia used a variety of apps to present.  I counted at least ten tools when I took a look at this video podcast.  This podcast was also very relevant to my interests of podcasting, storytelling, iPads, and apps.  What I really liked about this podcast was that it was a video recording of a TED talk.  TED is a great organization that has so many wonderful videos that are short, sweet, and to the point.  The speaker does not have time to give long and drawn out responses, instead they need to be short and to the point.  I also enjoyed that this was a video podcast.  It gave more life and interest to the content than just an audio podcast.  This podcast, in comparison to the others, was a whopping 3 minutes and 51 seconds.  I really enjoyed the length and think that it fit the message and overall topic very well.  As far as improving these podcasts, I do not think I would want to try.  TED is such a widely recognized organization that what they do and how they do it is top notch.  I did not see anywhere in this podcast where they could have improved.  This podcast is exceptional.  If only I had time to watch the rest of them!

Overall I learned that podcasts are unique items that can be long, short, video, enhanced, or just audio – but all of them were very informative about their specific episode topic.  I was glad that we were asked to look at some podcasts prior to our upcoming assignment.  It provided a few tips, hints, and ideas to work from for my next one.

What podcasts do you listen to?  Have you listened to any of the publishers above?  What other podcasts should have been listed above?