We just finished a great conversation over on EdTechTalk with the “It’s Elementary” webcasting team of Lisa Durff, Jose Rodriguez. Alice Mercer, Maria Knee, and others who joined via the chat room. Lots of great links and ideas were shared, but I’ll comment on two briefly.

Alice’s classroom podcasts, published to her Edublogs website, include great examples of student-created podcast shows as well as recorded class discussions about different topics.

One of the most innovative ideas shared during the podcast, by Maria I think, concerned the use of her school’s “robo-dialer” program to actually PUBLISH student podcasts directly to parents at their homes, over POTS. I think this is a SUPER idea.

One of the issues we often hear discussed (and lamented) in schools is lack of communication with parents. The digital divide is real, and even if you’re publishing student work on the Internet, there are generally at least some (and perhaps many) families who don’t have an Internet connected computer at home. Maria’s idea offers a great way to address this challenge.

Her school district has invested in a phone dialing solution which permits school officials to send out mass audio messages to parents, usually in the evenings, about school announcements. Connect-ED is one product that provides this functionality. Maria figured out you can load up WAV files into the system, and then have it “push out” the recorded audio file to all the parents. So, she was able to use Audacity and save student podcasts as WAV files…. voila…. Instant podcast publishing right into the homes of all the kids at school. What a great idea, and a super way to not only leverage a communications technology the school district has already invested in… but also extend that “authentic audience” of students creating podcasts at school into homes where parents may have not previously had a chance to hear their students’ podcasts.

I love this idea! :-)

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  • http://mizmercer.edublogs.org A. Mercer

    I’ve suggested this before to Scott McLeod when discussions about how to lead your admin to technology discussions come up. This is an example of implementing the technology where it is already at, or rather where folks are at. Yeah, this is not blogging and doesn’t allow for a conversation, but it’s something most households (and a lot of schools) have. In addition, all of us getting those calls (I get them for two schools/school districts where I live and my son attends and where I work) can attest to the poor quality of most of these messages (BORING). They could use better/tighter writing and a little more production. I think they would get fewer ‘hang-ups’ and more folks listening. One system limitation, the messages can only be 60 seconds, which means you have to have a tight script and editing.

    Here is a link to a message I produced using my son as the voice talent: http://mizmercer.edublogs.org/2007/03/03/creative-commons-and-podcasting/

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    I didn’t realize the time limit was 60 seconds. That certainly does put a premium on content and delivery style! What a great idea to get students involved in sharing their voices with parents via this communication modality… Thanks for sharing the additional insights as well as the link! :-)

  • http://thetechcurve.com Kern Kelley

    Hey Wes,
    Another possible webtool to send audio might be http://www.pheeder.com It’s kind of like an Twitter, leaving messages for people but you’d have to put their numbers in ahead of time.

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