In web 2.0 new tools, new schools, Gwen Soloman and Lynne Schrum (2007) identify that podcasts allow for “individualized professional development on demand.” I can’t help but think back to Valenza’s Manifesto: if what you need isn’t available, go out and find it!
Podcasting offers many opportunties for professional development. One can listen, comment on a podcast that has been posted on a blog, or create an original podcast to share with others. It can be informal, and as a result be unintimidating due to a conversational tone, or more formal such as talks or lectures. Its purpose can be to inform, instruct, discuss, debate or entertain to name a few examples. It can be very general or very specific. It may be hosted by one speaker or many discussing concepts, theory, pedagogy or practice.
Some edtech PD podcast options recommended by Will Richardson, either in his SLJ article or his book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, include this Ontario page (it’s nice to see Canadian content as much is American) Podcasts in Education, Edupodder, The Savvy Technologist, The Teachers’ Podcast which dubs itself as “the new generation of edtech PD or the Education Podcast Network (EPN) which is divided into students and teachers, individual or class work, and subject areas. The professional development section alone has over 300 podcasts.
I subscribe to EdTechTalk through Bloglines. Subscribing through a blog aggregator is not the same as subscribing through an audio aggregator. However, from Bloglines, I can go to the EdTechTalk website and listen online, download or subscribe through iTunes. I’m not yet in the habit of checking iTunes for new episodes of podcasts since this is my first week as a “subscriber”! I like EdTechTalk because it provides very brief blog updates of what’s new so I can pick and choose what I listen to. I love it when a familiar name pops up. I’m proud of the fact that a few short weeks ago I didn’t even know who these people were and now I get regular updates from them from Bloglines – Valenza, Warlick, Richardson! It was interesting to listen to a review discussion of PBS’s Growing Up Online at EdTechTalk at the same time as we were discussing it in class. I love the fact that while we are grappling with these topics in class, the experts are as well. As we make sense of what we are learning, they are, too. That makes me feel like we are a part of this knowledge creation.
Examples of more general resources for professional development include LearningTimes Network which is free once you register. I watched a vodcast called “Virtual Eye Contact,” such as emoticons, that I had never thought of before. I also found it at Learning in Real Time Website if you would like to watch without having to register.
There are podcasts related to our work in libraries as well. Jenn mentioned the nine-page Directory of LIS Podcasts (PDF). I know that this would be a good place to start listening. For my own library professional development, I plan to listen to some of the podcasts related to cataloguing, collection management and information literacy instruction.
There are also podcasts outside the realm of edtech. I recently became a member of the International Reading Association and now have access to online pdf articles. I never knew they had podcasts, too!
Soloman and Schrum quote King and Guru (2006) who suggest thinking about how podcast “technology subtly changes the dynamics of information exchange between speaker and listener.” Unless there is an option to blog or comment, the communication is only one-way. Even if there is an interactive outlet, the listener may not take the opportunity. In face-to-face PD it is more likely that through interaction the participant will ask clarifying questions which can lead to a better understanding. Unfortunately the original article that is referenced is no longer available online, however, it does provide an interesting point to think about. Listening to a whole bunch of podcasts doesn’t equate to improved professional development unless it is reflected upon and integrated or transfered into practice.