Open Thinkering


Tag: elearnr

Podcasting: Step 1 – RSS and setting up a teacher blog


Over the next three weeks, staff e-learning sessions will focus on getting started with podcasting. This first session starts off with the basics you will need as a teacher before even pressing that ‘record’ button:

  1. An understanding of what RSS is.
  2. A blog onto which to put MP3 files.

The easiest way to get your head around what RSS is and how it means that audio files can be delivered to interested parties automatically is by watching this excellent explanatory video prepared by CommonCraft:

A podcast differs from simply placing an audio file on the Internet because of RSS. It means that new content can be ‘pushed’ to interested parties rather than them having to manually check for updates. The process of interested parties requesting that podcasts are delivered automatically is known as ‘subscribing’.

Now that you know what RSS is, you need to have a mechanism by which you can generate one. In our case, this is going to be a blog. Anything that you add to a blog post will be automagically turned into a subscribable podcast.

To learn how to set up a blog, check out the elearnr guide entitled:
Creating a homework blog in 3 simple steps using email

If you want to jump ahead and have a go podcasting before the next session, you should visit the Box of Tricks website where Josรฉ Picardo has put together an excellent short presentation entitled Podcasting in Five Easy Steps. ๐Ÿ˜€

elearnr: what have I been up to?

As the first term of the school year nears its end, the time has come to reflect on the blog that’s accompanied my new role. The start of this year saw me become E-Learning Staff Tutor at my school, a newly-created role for which the job description was only finalised two weeks ago!

It made sense to me to set up a blog to accompany this role, for a few reasons:

  1. It’s a useful way to disseminate e-learning resources, links and guides to staff at my school.
  2. It means my work can have an impact beyond my school via blog readers and RSS subscribers (up to 129 of the latter so far, according to Feedburner).
  3. It’s a handy record to show the work I’ve been doing as Ofsted will be coming knocking sometime this year.
  4. It serves as a point of contact above and beyond email and gives me a ‘home’ (as I’m without an office!)

This shows you what I’ve been blogging about, mostly (courtesy of Wordle):

…and this is a complete overview of posts reflecting the sessions I’ve run this term (in reverse order):

I hope you find them useful! ๐Ÿ˜€

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I’ll tell you this for free…

…put yer money away!*

This post was prompted, in part, by a wonderful recent presentation by Merlin Mann’s entitled How To Blog and its horror-inducing first few slides.

I’ve been contacted in the past week by two separate individuals who wanted to place paid advertisements on my sites. The first offered $150 for 6 text-link ads at the end of blog posts on the now-defunct I presume this is because these appear near the top of Google search rankings for certain keywords. The second was simply exploring the possibility of paid adverts on this blog.

I said no to both on principle. You may find that strange, as I’ve had Google and iTunes ads on my sites before.** Well, yes, but I’ve realised the error of my ways! As has been pointed out to me by several people, adverts on a personal blog make people question your impartiality and just don’t look very professional. I’ve taken these points on board. The only advertising on my sites now can be found at to help cover hosting and bandwidth costs. :-p

So you can be sure that when I recommend certain products and services, I’m not being paid the individuals or companies behind them. Transparency is key.

The only thing I’m now struggling with now is revealing which school I work at. In the past I’ve made sure I don’t say where I work to keep the professional and personal completely separate. In a connected online world, however, this is becoming increasingly difficult. Take elearnr, for example. This is a blog I’ve set up to share links, resources and guides I create in my new role as E-Learning Staff Tutor. Whilst I mention names of members of staff on there, I haven’t – as yet – said which school I’m talking about. I’m torn between what it will mean for this blog, and being completely transparent with the other.

I’d appreciate your thoughts and comments. ๐Ÿ™‚

*Watch this YouTube video clip of Peter Kay if you don’t get what I’m talking about…

** I apologise you can see an iTunes ad in the sidebar, I’ve tried several times to get rid of it using K2’s sidebar manager, but it just won’t budge! ๐Ÿ™

(image by Joseph Robertson @ Flickr)