Week 9 Thing #22 eBooks and Audiobooks

I am a HUGE fan of audiobooks, as one might guess, since I’m such an iPod lover! First of all, audiobooks fit nicely into my life–just as with podcasts, I can listen to an audiobook during my commute time, while waiting in a traffic jam or wherever! My family enjoys audiobooks together just about every time we take a trip. I “read” books in this way that I might not have time to read otherwise.

As an educator, I find audiobooks to be a wonderfully accessible format for students. Readers who might not be able to “handle” a book that their peers are reading can listen along–or better yet, listen while reading–to an audiobook, thereby “keeping up” with their friends. In fact, when the Harry Potter series was first published, this is how my 3rd grader, who was not then a strong reader and would never have been able to read them alone, read the first couple of books. By the time the third one was published, she was reading while listening. That particular audio series was such a phenomenal production that by the publication of the 7th book, our whole family chose to read and listen to the book. The audiobooks had taken on a life of their own, and we didn’t want to miss Jim Dale’s performance any more than we wanted to miss reading the books ourselves!

Podiobooks, Librivox and Audiobooks with Annie are all great sources for free audiobooks–both new titles by new authors and titles in the public domain through the Gutenberg Project.

eBooks I am not as familiar or comfortable with. Possibly because I don’t have a portable device that I can read them on. While I don’t mind surfing the web on my laptop, I don’t love to spend a huge amount of time reading on it. Also, it seems to be harder on my old eyes than a traditional book. I just don’t like it.

That being stated though, I do understand that our students are more comfortable with the format, and I see that I need to explore and think more about such sites as Overdrive and the World eBook Fair.

Week 9 #21 Podcasts

Podcasts! I think podcasts are potentially the most effective professional development tool we have available to us. As in many districts, my district’s latest push is for educators to engage in personal professional learning communities. I think podcasting is a powerful professional development tool that perfectly fits into this model. I know podcasting has certainly changed my professional learning!

As with so many things in life, I came to be interested in podcasts because of my daughter. She got an iPod for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I never thought I would really be that interested in one. Then I discovered how many podcasts were available! And they were all FREE! It wasn’t long until I had an iPod of my own, and so did my husband!

I have dozens of podcasts, personal and professional, that I download regularly. I use iTunes primarily. There are so many really good casts that I sometimes have a hard time listening to all of them!

One podcast that I listen to every week as soon as it posts is Women of Web 2.0 through the EdTechTalk channel. In fact, just about all of the EdTechTalk casts are worth a listen. A great resource for our American History teachers is the cast produced by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. It regularly covers topics that really help bring the colonial period to life–interesting stuff like what people wore, how they made wigs, what a slave’s life was really like, etc. Geek!ed! is also a must-listen each week. I like this cast because the hosts, all from a school district in Michigan, represent a variety of educators’ views –from technology teacher to IT director to edtech director, etc. They are silly and thought-provoking and just fun to listen to. It is fascinating to hear how many issues we have in common, even though we are from very different & distant states.
Ooo! And I forgot to mention that so many conference sessions are now podcasted that I can “sit in” on conferences that I can’t manage to get to!

I find that I listen to these podcasts in the minutes that I spend commuting or waiting in carpool lines or in traffic jams. In this way, I have a much richer professional development life than I did before. Pre-iPod, many nights my professional reading was, frankly, when I was too tired to really give it my full attention. Podcasting is a perfect fit for me.

More personal favorites are Hometown Tales (because every town has one), Rick Steves’ Travel , TEDTalks video podcasts, Reading Rockets Author Interviews

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