I had an idea the other day (don’t laugh…I do get them once in awhile!) that seems to be paying off.

We have these nice older iMacs sitting in our ES HUB (a.k.a. Library). We use one to sync our 10 iPods that the PTA bought for us last year and….well….that’s it. It’s sitting there with a 150GB hard drive and all that’s on it are audiobook files.

So I had and idea while running the other day that I could download podcasts to that machine and then share the library over the internal network so that any teacher or student could access them. In doing this we allow students and teachers access to the podcasts for learning, but do not take up precious space on their local machine’s hard drives. Students…who can’t save anything locally to the laptop cart machines, would still have access to the wealth of information in the podcasts.

This is legal….as far as I know…because the podcasts are all free to begin with. We are not sharing any music or the audiobooks that are on that machine. We’re only sharing the podcasts.

So here’s how I did it:

On a Mac: Go to iTunes- Preferences
On a PC: (I believe it is Tools-Options)

Sharing Library by jutecht.

Now we’re lucky as on our computer image we already had checked “Look for Shared Libraries” on all our machines. So by sharing this one library it automatically appears for the users.

Here’s what they see:

Then of course comes the fun part of finding podcasts (and putting out a call to teachers on what podcasts they like). So far here is what we’ve added.

(All links are to iTunes Store…click on them will take you to iTunes where you can subscribe for free to these podcasts)

1. Apple Quick Tips: A must have for any Apple School (do a search in iTunes…no store link)!
2. TEDTalks Video: We have some teachers addicted to these!
3. Students Teaching Students: Our very own podcast from 5th Graders.
4. CNN Student News: Found this while looking through the store…looks good!
5. SUPER WHY!: From PBS for kids (Great website as well).
6. Teaching with SmartBoards: Great videos…we have a SmartBoard in every room…do I need to say more.
7. SOS Podcast: Yes shameless self promotion…but hey I’m making the list! 🙂

So that’s where I’ve started. Anything else you would recommend adding to the list? Remember the audience is Teachers and Students.

The last thing I need to figure out is some way to organize them as they just come in as a stream with the newest download on top.

I’m pretty excited about this. A great way to spread PD across a school.

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. 🙂