As part of the Avon Grove Library's summer learning program, local teens participated in a hands-on learning experience involving the technological world's newest obsession: pod-casting.During the two-part program, teens gathered information on the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Bejing, China, and assembled a podcast complete with digital images, music, sound effects and interviews with library patrons.
So what exactly is a podcast? A podcast is audio or video in the form of a digital media file which is distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and personal computers.
Basically, it's a form of personal broadcasting that can be downloaded and listened to or watched anytime.
Podcasting's initial appeal was to allow individuals to create and distribute their own radio-style shows, but has since been used for other activities, such as marketing, news updates and networking in the professional world.
For many teens, social networking through Internet sites like Myspace.com and Youtube.com have become an important part of their daily lives. Similar to podcasting, these sites allow kids the freedom to post poetry, music and videos for public view.
Suzy Stahl, instructor for the podcasting sessions at the AGL, said that in teaching podcasting to teens is a way to utilize the skills that they have already picked up on these sites.
Stahl said podcasting could assist them in becoming more prepared for the technology that is rapidly becoming more important to their future lives and careers.
Stahl, who is also a librarian at the Oxford Area High School, said podcasting was a wonderful tool for teachers to utilize in class projects that involve research.
"It's a great medium for students to present their research in a creative way," said Stahl.
She also added that students are able to incorporate their own personal interests into projects with video, sound and pictures when podcasting that they can't always do when writing a paper.
Julia Wright, an eighth grader at Fred S. Engle Middle School, said she first heard about podcasting from her mother, who has dabbled in it in her spare time at home.
Wright said it might be fun to use podcasting for school projects instead of Microsoft Power Point presentations.
Troy Alfle, a 12-year-old student at Octorara Middle School, said he was interested in pod-casting because his friends post videos on Youtube.com.
Both Alfle and Wright said they used PCs instead of Macs at home and in school, and that it was their first time using Macs.
Stahl said this type of "dual literacy" with computers is a valuable skill for every student to have for the future. The library will also offer classes on blogging, image generation and digital storytelling throughout the summer.
As for the finished Summer Olympics podcast, which features an interview with local professional runner Kareem Lanier, it will be linked to the library's website as well as onto iTunes.com, which offers a large library of free podcasts for download.
The Avon Grove Library is located at 117 Rosehill Avenue in West Grove. For more information visit www.avongrovelibrary.org or call 610-869-2004.