Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Howdy, Pod'ner!" Podcasting... on the Run (literally!)

"Talk about something you love!" This suggestion from my best friend, Alana, was the best piece of advice I heard all week as I pondered over this week's blog on podcasting. 
So, guess what?! YOU are about to become my Running Pod'ner... or just maybe... hopefully... I'll be yours!


Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon, Sept 26, 2010
Podcasting: T'week'ed first for me!

Yikes, podcasting!! That was my first reaction.

I would bet that you feel exactly like me... I hate the sound of my own voice.  Well, recorded that is!  I love to talk and those of you who know me will surely agree.  Still, what would I possibly talk about in a podcast?!  I struggled all week... until Alana's comment inspired me to begin thinking in a new way.

Thankfully, the "Running Pod'ner" evolved and I am quite excited about it, to be honest.  I guess because the idea came about from something I do love... running! And also, perhaps there is a real audience out there for a podcast like this. Maybe someone will actually use it... you know, a real actual person. What if I can help someone begin their own journey toward an active lifestyle?! 

My biggest worry is no longer the sound of my voice. It is that I am quite sure that people questioned my sanity as I walked/ran and talked to myself en route. But hey, that's okay.  I had a reason.  Now... if I do it again every week or so, I might be locked up.

The learning process: Believe it or not, the easy part was actually recording the podcast on my iPod. My husband was quite sure I should write a script.  "After all", he reminded me, "thirty minutes is a very long time."  You would think he would know me better than that after 21 years! No script necessary. Talking for 30 minutes straight wasn't hard for me, at all!  Even to myself (ouch, that's a little scary)... but then, maybe I was talking to you.  It helped to think that, I suppose. At the end, I was thinking of all the other things I could have and should have told you about my running journey.  Next time?!  Perhaps. Now that said, a script might be a good idea in many cases.

As the idea for Running Pod'ner emerged, I wasn't entirely sure the best way to record myself... on the run.  A little research on the Internet didn't produce a cost efficient solution, so I walked on over to our local Apple dealer to inquire.  In less than five minutes, I was on my way home with a set of earphones and a built in microphone.  Fantastic investment at $35.99!  One little FYI: For you to do this, you'll need one of the newer iPods (mine is a 5th generation) with the Voice Memo option.  Simply select Voice Memo from the Extras menu. Hit record. Voila. 30 minutes later (or whatever you choose), select Stop and Save and your podcast is on its way. 

Unfortunately, just as Will Richardson discusses in his book (see my Key Resources on side bar), podcasting with your iPod is not quite as simple as using your computer.  I did experience this first hand.  There were a few steps to take that I hadn't expected. 

First, as expected, I had to retrieve my voice memo from my iPod by accessing my iTunes account.  Not a huge deal, but an additional step if you plan to podcast using your iPod or similar device, that would not be necessary when podcasting directly to your computer.

The more difficult part of this process was yet to come!

Editing the podcast:  This was the most difficult part of the process.  First, I chose to download the free program Audacity (on recommendation from Richardson).  This is free software and it looks rather amazing.  Even with limited time to really play, it was clear that with tons of options, Audacity seems like a fantastic audio editing program.  However, I ran into a few glitches within a few minutes. You see, the iPod creates a mp4a file, which isn't compatible with Audacity.  You'll need to go back to iTunes and convert this file to a .wav file.  I had no idea how to do this with such a large file. My usual website for converting (Zamzar) doesn't allow files of this size. I located a help file on the Apple support site which was very helpful given the number of steps.  Soon, I was in business with Audacity, my voice memo loaded, ready to be edited.

Using the program itself was relatively easy.  A few of the features seemed more complicated and may take some extra learning, but overall, clipping and trimming was quite easy.  I located a great tutorial on using Audacity from the Diigo community that I would recommend if you want to explore podcasts further.  Within a few minutes, I had edited out a few minutes of getting ready and running home that were not needed.

My Running Podner ( Notice the intervals
 Glitch #2 occured when I decided that I wanted to upload my podcast back to iTunes.  You see, .wav files will not work here.  So another conversion was necessary, and beginning to be a little frustrating. I had to go back to the Audacity website and download the LAME.dll file in order to convert this back to mp3.  This took a few minutes to locate, connect and allow the conversion.  Somewhat frustrating but manageable.
After my file was converted to mp3, I was ready to embed in my blog. Oh! Another glitch. Audio isn't supported this way in Blogger.  Alright, deep breath. It's just one more step. Ugh!  I guess I should have expected this. After all, Will Richardson does say that this is more complicated in Blogger than Wordpress. I went back into his book, and followed the link to the Blogger video on YouTube for this procedure.  Another step...

Glitch #3, is it? #4?! I found out that you need to upload the podcast to a web hosting site.  Oh! In the video, a few such sites are suggested (, Dreamhost), but as I explored this sites (some free, some not) I realized that I should just use my Dropbox account that I already hold.  Fantastic.  One less step?! Now with my podcast uploaded to Dropbox, I am just one step away.

Now, with public URL in hand (you can copy the public link from the Dropbox account), I realized that I will now need to create a new post for the podcast.  Another deep breath. Done! On the separate post, the podcast does open using Google Reader. Okay! Not exactly as I thought... you see this is for RSS feeds.  If you want to embed the player, this isn't the way.  Instead, I went the route.  This site finally allowed me to upload a large mp3 and embed it in my blog.  Thank you!
"Are we there yet?! How much farther?!"  I still want to try uploading to iTunes.  Deep breath. Surely, I'll be up and running on iTunes shortly.  If I only knew what to do... that is.

One more (last?) step... I followed E-How: Publish your Blog Podcast to iTunes Please tell me this will work! (So far, seems okay. You can subscribe by typing in or I have uploaded the podcast to the iTunes store, Weekly Ed Tech, but may take a day or so to be available)

Overall, I found podcasting a little more complex than I expected. Quite a bit actually.  Not the podcasting itself, but the sharing of it. It will be easier next time, right? Don't let my experience deter you.

Podcasting...T'week'ed for Learning

"Because Podcasts are so easy to make, they are a great way to promote technology to reluctant teachers. Dave Fagg (2006), an Australian history teacher, notes that, rather than spend his time confiscating MP3 players from students, he integrates them into learning by involving students in scripting, recording, editing, and sharing Podcasts about Australian history." (Lamb and Johnson)

Although my personal experiences using my iPod for this podcast don't make podcasting look easy, I still have to agree with Lamb and Johnson.  Much easier than video, audio is great entry point for many classrooms.  Now that I have been through the process, have the necessary software downloaded, my process would have been much smoother and quicker. Overall, it wasn't so bad either. Another real bonus of podcasts is that besides its ease of us, podcasts allow students to publish to the web without putting their face out there. If you recall from my video sharing blog post, I have a few concerns about publishing student faces.  With podcasting, there are no worries on that front. Podcasts are also great entry points for students moving toward screencasts and video presentations. 

I haven't used podcasting directly for classroom teaching before, I have been using PhotoStory with my students to get them narrating.  As well, I have been thinking about the value of this technology since viewing this podcast (converted to video) from the Calgary Science School this past spring. I love this example of a student sharing their inquiry.

When students publish for a real audience, as in this example, you can be sure they will stay engaged. In addition, students can practice fluency and intonation.  And of course, it's easy to do over (unlike performing live!)

Another great reminder from Lamb and Johnson was "Students love to work with sound effects." So true!  Audacity software itself has some wonderful effects built it. Check out for other sound effects.

As a student myself, in distance education, I see significant value in the weekly podcast from my professors.  It helps guide my thinking for the next topic, and recap many of the discussions from the last week.  Along those lines, I was reading a little about Profcasting, which is really just recording the lecture and posting the podcast and slides to the web.  Even in the younger classrooms, I can see how profcasting could be a valuable tool in the classroom to capture those important lessons (Aren't they all important?).

And then of course, book reviews, storytelling (just think about those Halloween stories with special effects), poetry, newscasts, radio plays, interviews, English as an Additional Language, foreign language learning... the ideas will surely keep coming.

For more information about podcasting in the school, check out the following link:

A Final Word about "My Running Pod'ner":  My Running Pod'ner is a 30 minute walk/run similar to one I first used in my training (1 minute run/4 minute walk X 6).  Please feel free to download my podcast to your own iPod, lace up your runners, and take me for a run with you! For a direct link to download from:

And if you would like to follow my route, here it is!

View My Running Pod'ner Route in a larger map

Bottom line.  Don't be afraid to try podcasting.  And my one piece of advice to you... "Talk about something you love!"

Lamb, A. & Johnson, L. (2007). Podcasting in the school library, part 2: creating powerful Podcasts with your students. Teacher Librarian, 34(4), 61-64,68. 

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed listening to your running podcast. By the 3rd minute I'm sure I'd be so out of breath that I wouldn't be able to hold a conversation (and I've ran in 5k runs before....never having a conversation though). Great idea...problem is, I don't own an iPod to listen to it while I run. :(