Podcasting Made Easy

As a library consultant I miss working with teens (especially doing fun programs with them!) and putting my hands on great young adult literature, Doing an online author chat with a young adult author certainly modeled the process and technology to youth services librarians, but it was also a great way to get back in touch with some of those things I miss.

As part of a Meet the Author program founded by my colleague Susan Babb at NMRLS, I invited one of my authors to join us virtually. Ned Vizzini, author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Miramax, 2006), Be More Chill (Miramax, 2004), and Teen Angst? Naaah!… a Quasi-autobiography (Free Spirit, 2000) was a willing test subject for this experiment.

Bonus! You can listen to Ned’s presentation and read the transcript of the session online

We used the free Internet telephony program Skype to connect with Ned in New York (I was in Massachusetts). Skype is just like AIM, but… instead of typing, you actually talk! No phone numbers required, you just “call” your buddy and a two-way audio channel opens up.

Skype has a recording feature, but since I don’t have and fancy equipment, like a digital sound mixer, I could only capture my half of the conversation.

A quick fix was to stick my iPod with attached iTalk Griffin microphone next to the computer speaker. It picked up both our voices pretty clearly. The glitch was that the Internet was a bit intermittent, so there were a few times where we couldn’t hear Ned too well, but I posted a transcript to fill in most of the gaps.

After the event, I plugged the iPod into my computer, used a free program called Audacity to transfer it to an MP3 file, and then uploaded it to Lib Syn’s easy to use web interface.

Haven’t heard of Lib Syn? Me neither, until a week ago. Someone on an email distribution list mentioned it, and when I started having trouble with Ourmedia, a free media hosting service, I signed up for Lib Syn on the spot.

For $5-$30 a month, depending on how much storage and bandwith you think you’ll need, you get audio/video hosting with an integrated blog for your show notes. Lib Syn helps you through creating IDV3 tags (metadata! think of it as a MARC record for your podcast), builds a feed for you, AND pushes your podcast out to iTunes, Yahoo! Podcasts and Odeo podcast directories. It also tracks stats so you can see how many people are listening and how they are listening – direct from the web, or though a podcatcher.

Another great option for podcasting on the cheap and easy is Gabcast. You can post by telephone for FREE. Yes, FREE! Set up a free account, call their 1-800 number, and fill out a short form to connect your existing blog to their service. It’s as easy as leaving a message on an answering machine, except your audio is turned in a digital file and embedded into a blog with a feed, so it becomes subscribable. It works with Blogger, Livejournal, Typepad, WordPress, and Friendster, among others.

I’ve embedded audio into my region’s Storytelling blog and am demoing it in the Advanced Blogging class I’m teaching this afternoon.

What can you do with teens and podcasting?

  • Author/Illustrator visit recording
  • Battle of the Bands recording
  • Booktalks
  • Book Reviews
  • CD Reviews
  • DVD Reviews
  • Instruction: how to place a hold request!
  • Library News
  • Library Tours
  • Poetry Slam recording
  • Program promotion
  • Storytelling
  • Other?

With such great, cheap options, there’s no reason not to give it a try! Some great teen podcasts to listen to for inspiration (note: all are subscribable through iTunes, but I’ve provided links to their websites):

OCLS Podcast
Teens… promoting library programs!

Mugglecast

All things Harry Potter

Coulee Kids
A variety of student projects

You don’t have to know how to podcast or edit or transfer audio to do this; chances are your teens know how, or can figure it out in two minutes or less. Give them the resources and paramaters, and let them do it.

Podcasting has potential to build developmental assets in all eight categories! Podcasting could build self esteem, make teens feel part of their community, engage teens in after school programming, offer a creative outlet, create a socializing opportunity, foster role model and mentor relationships, encourage reading for pleasure, provide an occasion to show responsibility, utilize planning and descision making skills, and enforce boundaries and guidelines.

How can podcasting enforce boundaries and guidelines? It can be a perfect springboad to discussions about SOCIAL NETWORKING SOFTWARE, INTERNET SAFETY and CYBERETHICS! Discuss how much personal information they will (or won’t!) give out), what they can (and can’t!) say in their podcast, what music is ok to incorporate and how and where to write for permission or locate “podsafe” music, and cover the ethics and legalities of blogging, for what is a podcast, if not an audio blog?

When your successful podcast is up and running… tell the library world! Add it to the Library Success: Best Practices Wiki’s Podcasting Page at http://www.libsuccess.org/index.php?title=Podcasting!

About Beth Gallaway

Beth Gallaway was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2006 for her work in advocating for videogames in libraries. She is an independent library trainer/consultant specializing in gaming, technology, and youth services, and is a YALSA certified Serving the Underserved (SUS) trainer.
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2 Comments

  1. Linda Braun [Member]

    As another free and easy option for recording people can download a href=”http://audacity.sourceforge.net”>Audacity (for free) and use that to both record and edit audio. When using Skype if the computer has an internal or external microphone – the podcast producer can hit record in Audacity and then start talking via Skype. It works really well.

  2. Here’s a cool video podcast for teens.

    Your problem. Josh’s advice. Weekly.

    http://www.HeyJosh.tv

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