Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Computer Ate My Homework!

Yes, that's what I told the students at South Philadelphia High School. My computer ate my homework! We had finished recording Episode 8 of the Communicast, and I had done all the editing. When I went to share the GarageBand file to iTunes, in order to convert the file into a podcast, something went wrong. None of the pictures came through, so it was just an audio file. I re-opened the GarageBand file, and all the audio tracks were gone! I kept getting error messages, saying "File Not Found".

This was a disaster! I wanted to use the GarageBand file a second time, but all the audio tracks that the students recorded were gone. I had saved the file repeatedly, but I didn't make a back-up copy. So that's why I had to go back to the school and explain to the students that the computer had indeed eaten my homework. Therefore, we had to record the episode segments all over again. Luckily, the students did the second recording quickly and easily.

I'm sorry to say that this isn't the first time this has happened to me. Last year, working with the students at Childs Elementary School, the same thing happened. After that experience, I started to make back-up copies before sending the file to iTunes. But, after having no problems a few times, I let that slide. Hopefully, I'll always remember to make a back-up before sending the file to iTunes.

Once the recording was finished for the second time, I made it a priority to get the file edited and posted. So, Episode 8 is now available on our website.

It's already March, and we've only completed two episodes so far this year. I hope we can get another one done in the near future. While I'm not overly concerned with the quantity of episodes, there is something to actually producing a finished product.

Tomorrow, I'm going to try to get to the school to work on ideas for the next episode.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Catching Up

I can't believe it's been two months since I posted anything here. I'm trying to document the process of working on the Communicast podcast, but I need to make regular posts in order to do this.

A lot of work has actually been done on the podcast, including the production of a new episode. So, let me try to catch up with the story...

There wasn't much activity during the month of December. It was just too hectic, so we decided to let the podcast slide until after Winter Break.

Then, because of a big project for the department, I wasn't able to get back to working on the podcast until the middle of January. That gave students time to work on their segments.

The students and their teacher, Valerie Howard, decided to focus on the greenhouse effect. This is a different approach, only covering one topic, so I agreed, figuring that it might make it easier (and faster) to get the episode completed.

The recording went very smoothly. The students were well-prepared, and enthusiastic about their work. By now, they feel comfortable in front of the microphone.

When I left, I had everything I needed to put it all together. That was the end of January. So, why did it take until February 19 to get Communicast 8 published?

I'll continue the story...hopefully tomorrow.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Our first episode of the Communicast for the 2008 - 2009 school year was published yesterday, November 20, 2008. Although we were behind schedule, the efforts of the students clearly showed in the quality of the podcast.

This podcast is a group effort, and I want to thank the people involved in the project. First, thanks to Valerie Howard, the computer teacher at South Philadelphia High School, for being the co-sponsor of the podcast. Next, the student podcasters: Shaheed, Jasman, Yolonda, Maria, Joshua, Stacey, Michael, Kahlil, and Imene. Working behind the scenes are the Digital Service Fellows: Brandon and Tiani. I want to thank them for their help in working with the students as they wrote their scripts and practiced their speaking parts. They also worked with Imene, who produced the theme song.

I'm hoping that some of the students will add comments to this post, and describe how they feel, now that they are published podcasters.

I'm already looking forward to the next episode. I want the students to take more responsibility for the work, including some of the editing. I also hope that eventually, they'll work with some of the podcasters from last year (elementary school students) and collaborate on their podcast episodes.

But for now, we want to celebrate the successful posting of this episode, which is Communicast 7. To access the podcast, please go here:


or here:


As the students said, "The podcast is in, and we're out!!"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Staying Focused

The original target date to publish our first podcast episode for this year was October 31. Unfortunately, we didn't meet our target. This was due to a lot of factors, but the most important thing is that we're still working on it, and we'll have a finished product soon. I'm at SPHS this morning, to record some new segments. We want to finish recording everything on Monday, November 10, and then put it all together and post it.

One of the major problems we ran into was that the various segments didn't fit together as well as we would have liked. That's why we're working to develop a focus for the episode. The other part of staying focused is to keep our eye on the task at hand. There have been so many activities going on, that it's been hard for all of us to devote the necessary time to get this project completed.

So, now that the World Series (Go Phillies!) and the elections (Congratulations, Barack Obama!) are behind us, maybe it'll be easier to stay focused on our podcast project.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Successes and Challenges

Yesterday, I facilitated a 3 hour session on podcasting with members of the Digital Service Fellows (DSF) Digital Media Team. This was a lot of fun, and the team members learned the basics of podcasting. For most of them, working in GarageBand was relatively new, but since these team members already have a lot of technology skills and knowledge, they understood the concepts quickly.

The culminating activity for them was to produce a short, enhanced podcast of their own. It was great to see the look of pride and accomplishment on their faces as they shared their work.

As a result of this training, plus additional time to practice their skills, they will be able to work with teachers and students in the district who are working on podcasts. This can be a real bonus to our podcast program, having additional support persons in the field. I want to thank their coordinator, Crista, for inviting me to work with them.

The challenge I faced this week was time, or the lack of it. I wasn't able to get to South Phila. HS today to record more segments for our first podcast episode for this year. My goal is to get there twice next week. We have a lot to do to get this first episode ready.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Different View - The Student Perspective

Several of the student podcasters have placed comments on this blog. I want to thank them for their positive messages about their experiences. It's great to be able to have them express and share their points of view, which is one of the reasons this blog exists.

I'll be back at the school on Friday, October 17, for another recording session. We need to accomplish a lot during the next two recording sessions to be able to meet our goal of publishing the first episode during the month of October. So, my message to the podcasters reading this is to be prepared, and practice, practice, practice!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Online Collaboration and Communication

On Wednesday, October 8, I set up a wiki, which I hope the student podcasters will use to keep a record of which podcast segments they've already recorded, as well as writing down their ideas for future podcast segments. In order to make sure that everything written on the wiki is on topic and appropriate, I've set it up so only Ms. Howard and I can sign in to edit the page. I asked Ms. Howard if she would supervise the students as they make entries on the page.

Here's a link to the wiki: http://originalpodfather.wikispaces.com/

As the students demonstrate that they are able to make posts appropriately, we may decide to give them access to the site. But since this is a work in progress, we want to take one step at a time. I don't know the students well enough to know their level of maturity. I hope that they will demonstrate responsibility and earn the right to make edits directly onto the wiki page.

I also asked Ms. Howard to have her students add some comments to this blog. We want them to record their feelings about the process so far. This is also a way for them to provide input about the podcast.

I'd like to turn this into a project where the students collaborate online as they work on creating and producing the podcast.