Podcasting Made Easy, Part I: Getting Started

28 Jun

Since I discovered the world of podcasting on iTunes I knew that is where I wanted to be.  How cool would it be to publish a daily, weekly, monthly anything that people would download and listen to on the web? Instantly there were problems, as people may download anything, they usually only do that once if it’s terrible.  Technology? I didn’t know much, someone once told me about Garageband, and aside from a blog on MacWorld Magazine I knew nothing about it.  Thanks to some help from a few experienced educators, one Director of Curriculum and Instruction, I had the tools and stumbling blocks to create my first podcast.I am very grateful to the San Joaquin County Office of Education where I earned my credential from the Teachers College.  Someone saw in me a desire to use more technology – keeping in mind I am not technologically inclined, I just know it helps my kids learn better so I try to learn as much as I can – and introduce me to people who could help with my dream.  The goal was simple, there is a lot of great idea sharing going on at various events and trainings I have a unique chance to attend.  However, not every educator has that opportunity, so I wanted to share as many of these great resources as possible.  I started with Ron Jones, a well known educator and band director who worked at Del Oro HS in Loomis, CA (he has two great books you can check out).  Ron not only agreed to be the subject of the first podcast, he offered to drive over an hour to meet me and do the recording.  With my $10 microphone, podcast one was accomplished in just a couple of takes.

After getting my first podcast, I felt so good that I wanted more.  I started contacting people I know – some of them well known education speakers from different walks of life – along with other well known teachers and presenters in California and abroad.  After a few episodes I even began to offer a few of my own insights on technology and education to bring awareness to free resources and tools to educators.

My Podcast main page as it currently exists

To manage the podcast, I set out to discover and use RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and see what I could learn.  Essentially, I found out I did not have the technological skill to create and manage an RSS on my own.  I was willing to learn, but that skill was beyond me at this point.  So, I turned to Libsyn – an online podcasting publishing platform.  Along with allowing me to publish my content to the web, creating an audio blog, creating an RSS feel, they would also allow me to publish to iTunes, what I thought I wanted my primary audience to download from.  For about $5.00 a month I did not have to worry about any of the tech related junk behind publishing the podcast, I just had to post it, add the description, and I was on my way as Libsyn did the rest.  On a side note, Libsyn has incredible customer service, they are very responsive and very helpful the few times I need their feedback.

I can remember emailing iTunes and letting them listen to my podcast and awaiting approval – a couple of days before my name became searchable on iTunes – as well as checking daily to see how many downloads I had.  My first month I had 30, most of them my family, but so cool to think that 30 people were will to listen to content that I was able to create on my home computer. Now, playing with Garageband, finding content, and sharing that content out became my out of school ambition.  Sure, it was rough in the beginning, and content was not always updated regularly, but I felt I was putting out some good information for educators not just in activities/leadership but in any classroom/education scenario.  Next week, I will talk about some of the humps I had to overcome with sound so I could produce a better sounding podcast.

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