By Chris Smith
Working briefly in an International School in Hong Kong allowed me to buy a newly released video iPod. I’m not sure why I purchased this new one as I already had a regular (yet old) iPod that holds my 5,000 song collection and still has lots of free disk space. But the lure of an iPod that could also show video could not be resisted and I parted with my dollars for my ‘toys for boys’ purchase.
My first technical challenge (easy) was to upgrade my version of iTunes, the free software from Apple, running on my Windows XP laptop. This version of iTunes now also works as a podcast aggregator and organises all the programmes downloaded from the internet before they are sucked into the iPod.
I was now ready to start looking around for podcasts that had some relevance to education, however tentative. There is a lot of ‘hype’ with the term “podcasting” but it is in fact not much more than the ability to produce audio/video mp3/mp4 files to then be downloaded from the internet and played either directly on your computer or on a portable player. One of the important extensions to this technology is the ability of the software (aggregator) to automatically check online for new programmes and download them without requiring your active involvement.
Some users are suggesting that podcasting is simply a resurrection of the ideas of the old ‘ham’ or ‘short wave’ radio hobbyists. I’m inclined to agree with them but with the caveat that the ‘broadcasts’ can now be portable in a device in your pocket to be listened to when you wanted to rather than when transmitted. I suddenly have this mental image of all the students on the school bus all plugging in their Japanese earrings (headphones) and listening to homework assignments on the way home from their portable players, I bet the driver would appreciate that – but I digress.
The first podcast I found, using the Directory at Yahoo http://podcasts.yahoo.com/,was TWiT (This Week in Technology), a sixty minute informal roundtable discussion of the latest trends in digital technology