Random Thoughts

A Rant: Podcasts, Education, Free Content

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

I spent a good hour last night before recording the SOS Podcast for the week surfing the iTunes Podcast area. If you are a teacher in ANY subject area and haven’t at least considered using podcasts to augment your curriculum and teaching then you’re missing a huge opportunity. The wealth of knowledge there is amazing.

Royalty Free Music

My best find of the night came from beatsuite.com. A podcast of Royalty Free Music in different genres. I’m always looking for intro or exit music. I want something catchy, something up beat, something that fits the podcast or recording or presentation. I can now listen through their podcasts. Pick the song I want and then head to the web site where I can.

Did you know – Previews can be downloaded

As a beatsuite.com member you can download the preview
files for all Royalty
Free Music
tracks at the touch of a button. Whether you want
to try it in your project, share it with a colleague or pitch it
to a client. Download the preview before you purchase absolutely

Now here is a web site that is understanding the market of the Internet. I was listening to a track today that caught my attention and it cost $60. But once I buy it I own it and the best part is I don’t have to buy it before I try it out in my project.

What they understand is that if you want to rip them off you’ll do it anyway. It’s easy to record sound as it comes through your sound card. Kids at our school do it all the time. Quality isn’t great but hey, we’re use to DVDs where a person gets up and walks out of the theater in the middle of the show to refill their popcorn…what do you expect for $1 on a street corner.:)

What we need to understand is that society is changing and their is money to be had in giving away information if you do it right. Look at Nine Inch Nails who’s record is still tops at Amazon.com (You do buy from Amazon.com…I mean if you buy at all, right? They offer DRM free downloads that can be played on ANY device!) and has made the artist over a million dollars…and they gave it away free to start with.

Here’s what we need to understand. That our society today expects content to be free. Which shouldn’t be anything new to most teachers. We like our content free We expect our content to be free right? How many of you have copied something out of a book…or made copies of a whole book for that matter instead of paying for 30 copies for your class.

Education has been setting the example that we expect our content to be free. We all claim “It falls under fair use for education!” but really we want content and we don’t want to pay for it.

How many of you have done this: Made copies of something and then went to the paper cutter and cut the top or bottom copyright and page numbers off? (I’ll admit it….guilty!)

We either didn’t have the funds to pay for it, or we didn’t want to wait for that purchase order to come through..we want our content free and we want it now!

So where is this taking us? How is this going to effect education? What happens when our students figure out that the content they pay for in schools (and they do pay for it…maybe not in money but in time, energy and wasted hours of their life) can be found free on the Internet. That they can learn when they want, where they want.

Can education sustain a model where the content is free? I think about everything I’ve learned in the past three years from the Internet. At one time I was thinking of going back and getting my PhD…but not for the learning that would happen but for the piece of paper. Is that the right reason? Do kids go to school not to learn but for that piece of paper?

Could education sustain a model like beatsuite.com. Where you have to give away some to get people to pay for more? What does that look like in education? What if organizations that accredit schools instead accredited teachers? What if you could be an accredited teacher in your subject area and students from around the world chose to learn from you…via podcast or pay per lecture or second life.

How many of our students go to school because they have to, not because they want to?

How many of our students could learn what they learn at school from home?

How many of our teachers could teach via the web?

How many of our teachers could or know how to engage students in their learning landscape?

More questions then answers, more thought then fact….be kind in the comments. 🙂

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Thought is good. 🙂

    If we follow this train of thought through, at what point do we become facilitator rather than teacher?

    • “If we follow this train of thought through, at what point do we become facilitator rather than teacher?”

      Answer: Yesterday! 🙂

      It’s because we have not yet become facilitators that I think much of this stuff will happen.

  2. Heard Tim Tyson speak today and two of his many excellent points were:

    1. A Big question for Every Teacher is …..Who owns the learning?

    2. We need to create collaborative learning Communities – where everyone is a teacher and a learner

    His vision with what schools could be (and what he implemented at Mabry Middle School before his resigned) aligns with what you are hoping to achieve.

    We have to do this for our students. They want to create content, they want to learn, they earnestly seek to be engaged but we control it out of them (“I told you to set up your paper this way – one inch margins, name on the right side, date under it, blah, blah!”)

    We need to move beyond the status quo in education. There’s so much more we can do.

  3. Wow. I see and am blown away by the possibilities in facilitating learning. However, in the last throes of my Ed Leadership degree, I firmly see that until the post-secondary institutions are willing to make the same dynamic changes, k-12 education will remain satisfied with the status quo.

    Perhaps some of that pressure can come from below, by providing those institutions with dynamic graduates who have constructed their own learning with accessible web 2.0 tools and access to shareware/freeware programs designed to communicate with eachother. Perhaps the institutions will realize they need to change because of the pressure from above, as industries looking for their graduates no longer want status quo theorists, but practical constructors of knowledge and experiences.

    It will be interesting to see how it plays out for the my nieces (year 1 of college) and nephew (one year old). I firmly believe that students who want to go to school learn to do so because of the family values placed on education as well as the value the educator/facilitator places on meeting their unique needs for learning. Kudos to those who use their tools to engage them; a heartier kudos to those who use whatever it takes to keep them engaged. The tools (web or otherwise) educators use are critical for efficiency and extensions; the creativity we embed in instruction essential for emotional and connective reasons.

  4. “What if you could be an accredited teacher in your subject area and students from around the world chose to learn from you…via podcast or pay per lecture or second life.”

    Personally, I LOVE this idea! It sounds open, authentic, and like real-world learning. What if I wasn’t the right teacher for a particular student? or for his / her interests? Great, move on — find the right teacher, the right material, the right mode of learning. And yes, we should all be teachers and learners.

    I agree with you — it’s going to happen whether we like it or not. And in response to “Can education sustain a model where the content is free?” I say, yes to the content, but perhaps not the delivery, creation, and all the other bits that make up the learning process.

  5. Sugata Mitra says that if a teacher is poor enough to be replaced by a computer, he will be. By installing computers in poor, rural villages in India, he showed that anyone (particularly someone motivated and interested) can learn to use a computer and learn English only through a computer, without direct instruction from an adult human. I’m simplifying his research quite a lot, but the implication is there: as computers become more and more powerful, and as the programs they run become more sophisticated… more and more poor-quality teachers will be out of work.

    Publish or perish has moved down the educational chain, all the way to the bottom. Make movies, create podcasts, write blogs, whatever… but if you’re not adding to digital content as both a teacher and a learner, you’re gumming up necessary change in k-12 teaching.

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.