Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chapter Eight: Podcasting and the Importance of Audience

I think podcasting and screencasting may be my favorite thing I've learned in this class. The possibilities for its use in the classroom are so varied! In my house growing up, the spoken word was king. It's weird. Although there was television in my dad's childhood home, they must have listened to a lot of radio. We did during my childhood, too. I heard all kinds of audio recordings: comedy shows, Broadway shows, famous speeches. I have been able to recite Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" speech since I was like thirteen. It was just our thing. I am a big reader, but I think sound recordings relay things that words on a page just cannot do. Having students create writings- whether lab reports, poetry, historical narrative,- and then record, in their own voices that work, gives them a real sense of ownership and power over that recording. They will hear it and think, "That's me. That's my voice; that's my work." Along with being meaningful to students, it's also a great way to change things up in the classroom and provide some diversity in the way students are assessed.

As I read the text, I've noticed that over and over again Will Richardson broaches this subject of publication- that the Read/Write Web's power (or one of them) is its audience. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but I do feel like society is obsessed with having an audience and I'm wondering why. Are we obsessed with publishing our lives? With having an audience twenty-four/seven? And if we are, how did we get to this point? Having a voice and being heard is powerful. I will not deny that, but when did it become so important to reach so many? Why is there this need now to publicize the intimate details of our lives through blogging, facebook, podcasting... all of these technologies that allow us to reach a large audience. Why isn't it enough for our family and friends to know our stories? I'm trying to figure out if I think its a good thing that these technologies exist or not. Or rather, I'm trying to figure out if our abundant usage of these avenues of publication are really good for us- for our intellects, our hearts, our souls... Is obsessive self-documentation turning us all into egoists? And what exactly are we sacrificing in order to publish incessantly? Is it worth it?

Don't get me wrong. I think its great that more voices are being heard now. If you look through our history, those with money, power and prestige were most likely to get their messages to large audiences in the past. The Internet has moved us into an era where the little people have a stage, too. That's great. Do we always need a stage, though? I would say that those drawn to create something new, whether it is a piece of writing, a painting, a bookcase, etc... are not doing it for the audience. They create in order to move something from an intangible state to a material, physical one. They do it to get something out of themselves and into our world. That's been my experience with creation anyway. Creating isn't really about the audience, but about movement. The audience comes after the act. If we have people moved to create things because of audience, how does that change the things we are creating? If we constantly use this idea of audience to provide motivation for students to do good work, what else suffers? My instinct tells me that like any external motivator, the recognition factor will need to get larger and larger for the students to receive gratification from their work. For instance, let's say that in first grade, students are really excited because ten people have responded and left positive comments on a podcast they created for school. Well, after a year or so, ten comments will no longer be acceptable. They will need twenty or so comments to feel like they've done a good job. And on and on and on. Am I off base here?


Anonymous said...

"The Internet has moved us into an era where the little people have a stage, too. That's great. Do we always need a stage, though?" ~Amber Bacon

Yeah. It's great that there is more equity in voice via the internet; however, that means there is more less-than-worthwhile content to sift through. The examples Amy used in class, i.e. Martin Luther King website that is ran by white supremicists, is one example. There are pluses and minuses to opening any kind of institution or medium to more people.

brittney said...

I too like the idea of using Podcast in the classroom because you can do a wide variety of projects with them. I think it is not necessary about being on stage all the time, but its about having a voice.