With my family vacation behind me it's time to focus on the very near future, NECC.  This year the annual National Educcational Computing Conference is being held in Atlanta.  I am preparing information for my Poster session on how teachers can use podcasting for professional development as well as classroom enrichment.  If you are a proactive parent, and I suspect you are or you wouldn't be reading this blog, you may be interested in learning more about the benefits of podcast listening.  Actually, I call all podcasts that can be used for educational purposes, educasts! I know it adds to the confusion but I'm hoping that with the educast label, I can point to some valuable educational resources. 

In order to get started exploring the world of educasting content that exists is cyberspace you must first ask yourself these simple questions:

Do you have itunes downloaded on my computer?
Have you ever opened the itunes music store?
Have you ever purchased music from the store?

If you answered 'yes' to at least two of these questions then you are ready to begin podcatching  That is, you are ready to start your personal collection of podcast (educast) subscriptions! If you answered No to any question then you must first accomplish those things with the exception of making a purchase.  I just asked that to see if you were a regular user or just a novice.

Once you have jumped the access hurdles it's a matter of being observant.  See how long it takes you to find the word podcast on the left hand side of the itunes music store screen.  The page's graphics are out of control but once you find see the word podcast on the list, it will be a snap the next time. Now click it.

The display changes. Now all of the graphics are promoting podcasts!  You will recognize all kinds of shows from both TV and Radio who have regular podcast recordings.  You will also notice a list of categories.  I urge you to explore these categories.  Of course I will direct you to the education category but please don't miss out on the othere great offerings which may appeal to your personal interests based on hobbies or activities. Topics like travel, runners world, and cooking to name a few.  You will find commercial grade and very home made material to sort through.

Now, having realized that a whole new world of listening pleasure exists, how do you take advantage of it?  Some of you will click away and discover on your own that you can listen and even in some cases view podcasts within the itunes music store itself.  yes, and that is how you shop around for your favorites.  Listen and get a feel for them.

Once you find a show you really enjoy you must subscribe.  I do mean must!  The whole point of podcasts is the ability to subscribe and receive regular updates each time you open your itunes.  Just click the subscribe button and the magic begins.  The most recent episode will be downloaded to your playlist. If you own an ipod or some other mp3 you can sync it up and carry the podcast wherever you go.  You can listen to it anywhere and at any time.

There is something special about listening.  We feel that something when we listen to music, or hear a good story.  Podcasts, educasts, are magic too.  They will introduce you to new people, ideas, places and things to ignite your imagination.


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