Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Multi-Tasker's Dream Invention . . .

I have a problem.

I admit this to you all, because I know you will not judge me, and because I know that, of my millions of blog readers (okay, maybe all two of you), most of you have the same problem as me.

I can't just sit and watch a television show. Nor can I merely cook dinner. Or simply play with my two-year-old. I can't even go for a run in perfect silence.

I, like millions and millions of folks out there today, am an obsessive multi-tasker, the kind that feels nervous getting into a car without folders of articles or books to read. The kind that cannot IMAGINE a worse fate then (GASP) finding myself in a doctor's waiting room without anything PRODUCTIVE to do. The kind that loves taking online classes largely because I can fold laundry AND nurse my newborn while watching videostreamed lectures.

Which leads me to something that I REALLY REALLY REALLY love. My iPod shuffle.

The thing is like one inch long, hot pink, and I've lost it/washed it/scuffed it more times than you could imagine. But it carries, within it, hours and hours of knowledge. Mysteriously locked inside are podcasts about the history of kissing, reviews on movies/music, interviews with famous people, journalistic accounts of people's lives, discussions about faith in our modern world, dramatic readings of fictional stories. In short, my iPod is the only productive non-productive invention that makes me feel validated in going out on a run, washing the dishes, or waiting in a waiting room.

As a rule, my iPod is not for school. Not yet, anyway. I don't load podcast assignments from classes, because only twice in my PhD career have they been assigned. I load podcasts that interest me, podcasts about food and diverse people and places. They are quality podcasts; they are informative podcasts; they are entertaining podcasts. They are mine.

And don't believe for a moment that they don't impact my school career. Nearly every week, I have some comment in class or add some resource to a paper that has its origin in a podcast. So just because I'm not being assigned podcasting for school, doesn't mean I'm not using them for school. Not by a long-shot . . .

What implications do my ramblings have upon educational uses of podcasts, whether they be in recording lectures, providing supplemental materials, or having students make their own?

I have no idea, and no time to think about it since, after all, it's time for my hot-jogging-date with my little pink bundle of amazingness . . .


  1. I'm really interested in this phenomenon, and I think it happens a lot! Podcasts and other quick-ish ways (like watching a documentaries) to get info about topics seem like the new norm for self-educating. They're so fun. And so productive. And you can feel like an up-to-the-minute expert on...whatever. Plus, you can interject interesting things into conversation or class discussions with them. And yah, they make running and doctors' waiting rooms seem extra productive. Self-education!!

    I'm wondering how you pick your podcasts...length? topic? recommendations?

    The thing about this type of self-education is it's just that: it's self-selected. I wonder if I could MAKE another person (like a student) love the Radio Lab podcast as much as me...or MAKE them have the revelation I had when I listened to that one episode of This American Life. Do people have to come to these topics out of personal interest, outside of a classroom? Or can podcasts addressing special interests be integrated in helpful ways? Good to think about...

  2. Oooo . . such an interesting reply, Christy!

    First of all, here's how I pick my podcasts
    1. My brother or another friend recommends it.
    2. It's free.
    3. I can find it/access it/subscribe to it fairly quickly. (I'm impatient and won't look too long.)
    4. The topic interests me. (I've never subscribed to my brother's boring business podcasts.)
    5. It seems like it will entertain me in a broad way. Information that is engaging and well put together can be very entertaining!

    As for making other people like your podcasts, I had to smile, since I have done this far too many times. To my husband: "Honey- listen to just a few minutes! You'll be hooked!" To my mom: "This story totally reminded me of you- isn't it hilarious!" THe funny thing is, they are never as impressed as I think they should be, and I always leave the conversation with a vague sense that I have failed them and the podcast in some dramatic way . . .

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  4. Great discussion!

    I used to be a Multi-Tasker because of Podcast! Listening my favorite podcast programs while taking the bus……..

    For me, podcasting enables me to catch the latest information. CNN, for instance, regularly updates its new program per hour. And, since Christy has mentioned the length of podcast program, I’d like to share a Podcast program which is most “effective” and “efficient” to me!

    I guess 60 seconds would be a good neighborhood.

    Also, Adam Curry, one of the first to create a podcast show “Daily Source Code”, got used to PRODUCING his showssssss IN his car.

    Enjoy it!