Today my friend Bob Sprankle would have been 55 years old. Before Bob’s untimely death in December 2015, I had been working with him to archive some of his websites. Bob was one of the first elementary educators in the world to use audio podcasting with his students, and was recognized by the New York Times in August 2005 for his pioneering work. Many of his ideas, strategies, and techniques remain “best practices” for educators today, and are worth studying as well as emulating.

After Bob’s death, I started the website BobTaughtMe.com as a digital space to preserve all of the original Room 208 podcasts as well as blog posts. That work has remained incomplete, however, with “The Bobby Bucket Show” being the only one archived previously. Tonight, however, a few more pieces of this digital puzzle have been put together, and my heart is happy.

Working links to the original Room 208 podcast are now available online, with browsable calendar archives of Bob’s classroom website from 2006, 2005, and 2004 also online. All those links and others comprising Bob Sprankle’s digital legacy are available on BobTaughtMe.com. These webpages were originally created with iBlog, a now defunct MacOS software program which was coincidentally the first blogging program I used from 2003 to 2005, before transitioning to WordPress. Not every link on these pages works, but the MP3 podcast audio files do, and those are some of the most important ones!

As an example, here’s the archived blog post for the August 17, 2005 “Summer Literature Circle 03.” This is the direct MP3 audio file link. It’s 29 minutes long, and features wonderful dialog between Bob and his students. Bob’s episode description was:

This is a special SUMMER EDITION of the Room 208 Podcast with readers, Zoe, Sean, Nina, Amy, and Mr. S having a Literature Circle Discussion on The Giver by Lois Lowry.

I listened to this entire show tonight as I made updates on BobTaughtMe.com, and it was a wonderful way to remember what would have been his 55th year of life. I encourage you to check it out along with the other episodes on the site. I don’t know how many total minutes of podcast audio are included in these files, but they do comprise 945 MB of storage on my laptop and web server. Bob compressed his audio (I think) at 64 kbps, so this represents quite a few hours of recorded audio. A few movie clips are also included, but most of the archive is MP3 audio. Unfortunately the actual podcast feed (RSS/XML feed) is not working, but the direct media file links are. At some point I may work on fixing the feed, which functions as a blog feed but not a podcast-only feed.

On a brief technical note, I was able to get what were broken iBlog links to the Room 208 podcasts working tonight using TextWrangler software. TextWrangler (now just available as BBEdit) allowed me to open the entire iBlog website (comprised of static HTML text files and media/image files) at once. I was then able to perform a multi-file search and replace static links including the previous domain bobsprankle.com with the new domain bobtaughtme.com.

There were 524 HTML text files which included that old domain, and TextWrangler appears to have successfully updated them all. This would have been an extremely time consuming task to code / repair by hand, so I’m very thankful for this “sitewide” / “folder-wide” text search and replace functionality.

Next time you’re at table, raise your glass to the memory, the life, and the priceless contributions of Bob Sprankle to our world and our archive of digital learning. To Bob, and the “Scholars of Room 208,” as he liked to call his students. May our memories of your exemplary learning never fade.

* If you’re not familiar with Bob check out:


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If you're trying to listen to a podcast episode and it's not working, check this status page. (Wes is migrating his podcasts to Amazon S3 for hosting.) Remember to follow Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wesley's Facebook pages for "Speed of Creativity Learning" and his eBook, "Playing with Media." Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Mapping Media to the Curriculum."

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  • alice barr

    Thank you for your amazing work on archiving this legendary work! It has been amazing to think it’s been almost 2 years since we lost our friend. I think of him often and he was particularly in my thoughts at ACTEM this year when were were honored to have the head SEED recognize the work that Bob helped start. I am so thankful the have this to refer to. Thanks Wes!

  • Mike Arsenault

    Wes,

    Thanks for keeping this archive alive. One of my favorite memories of Bob’s original site (beyond the amazing work) was reading a comment you left for one of his students pieces of poetry about snow. It was an example I used in a course I taught for pre-service teachers about authentic audiences. It was great to see someone from Texas (at the time) who would take the time to provide an elementary student in Maine some feedback about her poetry.

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