Archive for February, 2009

Gcasting about race and education

In my last post I outlined what I would do in my education class to test out making a class podcast using Gcast. I can say now that it worked.  Although some students were a bit suspicious about who would hear it and whether it was a reputable website,  most students who had phones with them participated ( I left participation optional).  One goal that I had was that it would give students who don’t frequently participate in large class discussions the opportunity to have their voices heard. And, this goal was achieved. Although I could not distinguish every individual voice, I did hear students who have seldom spoken in class.  So, I’m happy about that.  After the class ended (I did not play back their recordings because I ran out of time), I did go to the site and edited out files that had some interference or that were cut off.  Then I assembled them into a playlist, made a podcast, and downloaded it into an MP3 file.  Success!

Gee whizzing about Gcast

Although I have not been blogging for real for many weeks,  I have been blogging in my mind.  But I don’t think that really counts.  Something I did yesterday, though, has prompted me to write so that I can share to a wider audience.  I did a test run of using Gcast as a internet podcasting tool, and it worked out so well, that I am going to try it in my class tomorrow.  For those of you who have not heard of Gcast, it is a web site that allows someone to use a cell phone to make an audiocast which is then uploaded and can be listened to as a podcast.  In other words it is a simple way to make a podcast without needing MP3 players or editing tools.  A person just dials in, speaks into the phone, and then dials the # key to post.  I think this can be a great tool for teachers to use cell phones, which are ubiquitous in schools, as a learning device instead of a distracting device.

I got this idea from a new book by Liz Kolb published by ISTE entitled, Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education. The Gast information is only one of the many ways that teachers can use cell phones for instructional purposes. The books gives step-by-step instructions for teachers on how to set up the web sites.  And she also includes instructions for students who will be participating in the in-class sessions and out-of-class projects. The instructions also have screen shots which are a great aid in navigating through unfamiliar sites. The book also includes abundant sample lessons plans that can easily be adapted to different subject areas.

So, how am I going to use it in my class on racism in education?  Here’s my plan.  I’m going to play a brief podcast from an NPR program about whether we still need Black History Month.  The speaker John Ridley gives a brief origin, some history, and a few opinions of others.  Then he gives his view on whether schools should continue to designate February as Black History Month. What I am going to do is stop the NPR podcast before Ridley gives his opinion.  Then I am going to ask the class to dial into Gcast and state an opinion on whether Black History Month should be continued and a one sentence reason why.  Although all students have opinions on these matters, not everyone contributes them in a large class.  I hope that the making of this podcast will enable everyone’s  voice to count.

Since it takes about 5 minutes for all the podcasts to load to the website, I will continue with a related discussion, then go to the website to play the group podcast.  Thereafter, I will finish the last 30 seconds of the NPR program and conclude the discussion.  I will also ask their opinions on whether Gcast and cell phones can be an effective as instructional tools.  So, we’ll see.  I’ll report back in a few days on how it all went.

In the meantime, check out this book.  You won’t be disappointed.

February 2009