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May 20, 2011 / Rabbi Meir Wexler

Podcasts Pros.

Hands down my favorite podcasts are  ‘Ted talks’ (www.ted.com) which offer short fascinating videos of people and technology positively impacting our world. Podcasts free up time and are a convenient way to digest the information you are interested in. I have heard people say it takes time at the outset to decide which podcasts to subscribe. I incorporate what I subscribe to as part of my natural webquests. If I like something I see or hear I setup the RSS feed and finished.

On the students creating end I think podcasts are a great way for students to experience authentic learning. Setting aside the “Kahn Academy” approach (or what was previously known as ‘flipped’ classrooms) the fact of the matter is that kids enjoy videos and sounds and as such technologies, like voicethread for example, align perfectly in aiding students authentic learning experiences.

Blogs help students be focused  and well thought through, knowing their words are being displayed to the world. Podcasts are similar (to a certain extent) using technology like voicethread which motivates students to learn the material well and then demonstrate their proficiency by having their responses recorded. For example if there is a Chumash class and students are assigned to record themselves reading, translating and explaining 3 pasukim incorporating two separate commentaries, they will want to be well versed in the materials before recording and articulating their responses.

On the teachers creating end, podcasts are an effective teaching tool. Teachers can create audio/video lessons for students to listen to when it is convenient. Students can even listen to podcasts in the classroom freeing up the teacher to move around, focusing his/her energies on those students struggling with the lesson, while allowing time to engage higher level learners
with deeper, challenging questions and discussions. Podcasts also enable differentiated learning (not differentiated instruction) meaning the students can truly take ownership of their learning and work to their individual abilities and skill sets. A concept I think most teachers, if provided with the right  resources and technologies, would try to employ in their classrooms.

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