Friday, December 16, 2005

Critical analysis of podcasting at Hillside

The work stimulates the following ‘Intelligences’: Musical (selecting an appropriate piece of music for the various segments of the podcast); Logical/mathematical (sequencing of chosen segments); Linguistic (putting thoughts into spoken word, for maximum impact and appeal); Spatial (organizing segments of spoken work and music using GarageBand); and Interpersonal (networking, interviewing, working with expert for first time, meeting a target as a team).

We feel that podcasting is much more of a media tool than an ICT one. It should allow us to facilitate parts of the Media Studies cluster in a cross-curricular way eg by producing a news report on ‘The Road to War’ (Social Subjects unit). It is a ‘low-threshold, high-ceiling’ activity, and will focus us on our development of a Music curriculum, in that the class was very motivated to choose an appropriate track to soundtrack their segment. They evaluated the ‘free music’ that was on offer. With the availability of the ‘sound box’, boys will be able to compose their own podcast soundtracks.

Creativity was evident at the planning, recording, and sequencing stages. There were tangible results at all stages of the project, with a finished podcast produced within the allotted time. There was collaboration, sharing of goals, and respectful turn-taking. Pupils were on task for a much greater percentage of the time compared to average. It provided an alternative to the written word, although a great deal of thought had to go into verbal contributions eg consideration of audience, sustaining interest, and working within time constraints. Communication skills were developed through interviewing and debating. Pupils understood that much of this good work would be left on the ‘cutting floor’, however they seemed to grasp the idea of selecting good content (12-15 minutes maximum). It provided a way of showing knowledge and understanding of a topic (which I feel I could assess) in a more worthwhile and comfortable way than, for example, a written test or whole class, teacher-pupil oral questioning.

I will consider how certain NAB assessments (maybe in RMPS, Social Subjects, and German) could be rewritten in a way that a podcast can be planned and recorded to meet the Performance Criteria.

The podcast website (linked through iTunes podcast directory) will need to be developed and maintained, with visitors being able to subscribe to future productions. I will use Michael Geoghegan’s book on podcasting to help, as well as studying how our original site was set up. Pupils may be encouraged to include requests for further information in their future podcasts, for example asking any people with stories related to the ‘Road to War’ to get in touch with the teacher. Additional pupil-led podcasts may be produced if a further (non-FLaT related) funding application is successful. Podcasts may be ‘healthy living’ related, or otherwise. Already we have witnessed the possibility that one or two pupils have the potential to benefit from media-related work experience in S4 eg through the BBC Talent initiative. It is vital for continuity and whole-school influence, that this tool is promoted as a central part of the FLaT project, even though it is too recent a concept to have been directly referred to in the FLaT application. At present, participation in the production of one podcast will be a feature of a target in each pupil’s IEP for Spring 2006. From Easter 2006, a podcasting after-school club will a) assist in the lengthening of the school week, and b) help to widen access to this opportunity in a safe, educational way.

We feel that it would be important for some link to be made with the Apple Masterclass, in order to obtain an iBook, and to arrange further training in digital technologies in the classroom. Sessions need to have a simple structure eg allowing pupils a choice of, say, 3 angles to approach their planning. We would need to purchase an iRiver due to the CD quality of voice recording, as opposed to the standard .WAV file. Pupils will continue to rehearse their contributions with the aim of reducing the amount of content which is script-based. Finally, monitoring of content is vital in our setting and everything to be podcast to the world must be played-back to senior management beforehand.


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