Podcasting is a great way to record what is happening or what is on your mind, but the technology is sometimes daunting for some educators. That's too bad because usually simple is best. Cell phones are in everybody's pocket in schools today. Yes, school policy usually restricts students from having cell phones at school, but they have them anyway. Wouldn't it be interesting to find an academic application for them?
I just returned from joining 15,000 of my best friends to ride our bikes across Iowa (500 miles) in a week. This was an annual experience called RAGBRAI and I rode with Team Flamingo. This experience is something that I wanted to share with my friends and readers so I created our Team Flamingo blog. I tried to maintain the text-based blog, but the wireless access was limited from the back of my bike. =-)
I tried posting to our blog using by texting from my Treo 800p smartphone, but Verizon decided to add 9 additional lines of advertisements to the end of each of my posts. I called up Verizon and went to their stores to find out how to stop this but it wasn't possible.
Ultimately, I decided to use my phone to post audio podcasts to my blog. It was easy to call the 888 number and leave updates about our progress. It was easy, it was quick and it was effective.
The coolest part of it was that I could embed the podcast receptor into my webpage/blog. This made it easy to access and enjoy.
I used GCast. It only took creating an account and then putting the receptor on my webpage/blog. I called up the GCast phone number, 888-654-2278. I entered my secret code number. Then I created the podcast. When I was done, I could review the podcast to approve or deny its posting. Once I have approved the podcast, it was posted within minutes. Best of all, this is FREE. You can even upload files from your computer if you want to include a file that you custom-made instead of limiting it to the phone versions. I found that I could even subscribe to the RSS feed of my GCast podcast using iTunes.
A similar service is Gabcast. You call a toll-free number (they provide phone numbers for multiple continents) and leave your thoughts through your phone. Gabcast has a three levels of service. The free version doesn't allow you to upload files from your computer but you can do that for $6 or $12 per month. Paying for the service will provide you with more storage space services as well. One capability that I found in Gabcast that didn't seem to be in Gcast is that you can link to individual recordings. They suggested that you could use this to verbally explain things like eBay postings or interesting webpages.
Westley Fryer wrote an informative article about these sorts of tools entitled Mobile Digital Storytelling for The TechEdge: The Journal of the Texas Computer Education Association. This is an informative article with lots of links if you want to learn more about it.
I don't know that this storytelling is the only way that students will benefit from this mobile digital recording system, but it provides an exciting way to chronical throughts, ideas and experiences.
Have you used these tools? If so, share what you have done.