Thing 14 – Audio, Podcasts and SoundCloud

Thing 14 – Audio, Podcasts and SoundCloud

February 9, 2019 1 By JR

Find a podcast or a SoundCloud track (which could be music, a podcast, an interview, a reading, etc.) and share this on your blog with a short post about how podcasts or SoundCloud could be useful to you.

I could spend a bit speculating about how podcasts COULD be useful to me, but instead I’ll share how they HAVE been useful to me. I’m pretty sure my earliest interest in podcasts came a little after I purchased my first Apple device (aside from a laptop), the 3rd gen iPod Touch. I had never owned an iPod before, I had a WalkmanTM, a Sony minidisc player (which I still have, and play, although I can no longer edit the discs), then a Discman, a Sansa Sanddisk MP3 player (which I prefer as an MP3 player to Apples products strictly for the ease of moving files back and forth, yeah, nuts to you iTunes), and finally the iPod touch. Starting in late 2009 I began my short lived K12 teaching career. I worked in rural schools near Saskatoon, as well as in the Humboldt area. This meant a tonne of road time, and initially a lot of music. Eventually though, I found my eyelids getting heavier and heavier, driving long hours as a new teacher and wondered how I might be more engaged on those long highway trips. Well, podcasts became the first answer.

I found a podcast called Stuff You Should Know (SYSK), from the folks at Howstuffworks.com. I found Josh and Chuck engaging, funny, and I learned a lot. Later I learned the network put out other podcasts, like Tech Stuff, which I found pretty great as well. Overtime though it’s hard to stay with podcasts that last that long and I wanted to venture out and find new ones to listen to. I’m not sure that I listen to any of the same podcasts now as I did back then.

Podcasts remained an integral part of my daily routine, even after moving back to Saskatoon, and through my time living in Edmonton as well. Generally I listen to podcasts on my walk to and from work, or to and from main campus. If I have highway trips I’ll plug them in as well. I listen to a range of shows that cover my interests from general interest, to instructional design, to design, to D&D (yes that D&D), to bar tending. The podcasts I’ve listened to sometimes even end up in courses that I work on because they happen to cover research that is being discussed in the course material or is related to the topics in some way. A few that I might recommend are as follows (in no particular order):

The other audio resource that Thing 14 doesn’t really get into is audio books. Audio books I’ve found to be equally interesting as podcasts, and I’m sure there are a bunch of classics that I never would have ‘read’ otherwise. I first came across audiobooks via my iPod touch on through an app that connected to Librivox. For those of you who don’t know Librivox, it’s a community site where people can create audiobooks of Public Domain works. Someone organizes the readings, and sometimes does all the reading themselves. Or they get a few people together. Sometimes the work is dramatized. These are all volunteers, so the quality varies. If you happen to use Pressbooks, then you’ll be glad to know that Librivox was an earlier project of the same people that made PB. I’m positive I never would have made it through Bram Stoker’s Dracula in paper format, but the audio book came with me on drives and flights and trains and eventually I finished it. The picture of Dorian Grey, Brave New World, 1984, and others kept coming up on the site so I gave them a listen.

I’ve also made use of paid audio book sources. When I worked at ualberta, our director started a book club to read Make it Stick. As an ed developer, I came to some of the sessions to help facilitate. I hadn’t read the book, just short articles by the same authors. I think there was a long weekend prior to the first meeting and I knew I was on the road that weekend, so I got a copy of the audio book and was able to be well prepared for the sessions following the break.

Another application I’ve been thinking about is converting course notes into audio files. Many online courses still have a substantial amount of text. In the case of many of our courses here, they might have some readings and then instructor written notes that basically replace the ‘lecture’. I think it would be useful to have that available as an audio file(s) for students. That way they could choose how they engage with the materials a little more. Again, for all of the reasons I stated I got into podcasts, I think it would be equally useful to have readings and course notes available as audio. Sure you could do it as video, but in my experience most videos used in courses could easily just be done in audio formats.