ASCD Podcating Presentation

Posted by on Mar 8, 2010

The following are my notes, reflections, and slidedeck from my ASCD podcasting presentation.

I presented this session with Jeff Arnett, the Chief Communications Officer for Barrington Community Unit School District 220.

Jeff and I began the session asking the question, “What can you accomplish when you merge communication strategy and innovative instruction?”  As Jeff is the Chief Communications Officer for our district, he is constantly working to ensure our district is communicating effectively with our community.  Often times a role like this in a district ends up being more of a public relations role wherein the individual works to shape and control the stream of communications coming from a district.  Jeff, however, works very hard to maintain open dialog with the community about what is happening throughout our district, and in particular, what is happening with our students as they are learning.  This is evidenced in his use of Facebook and Twitter as a strong component to our district’s communication plan.

My focus as Instructional Technology Coordinator for the district is on engaging students in learning experiences through technology.  I work to help teachers establish and identify their learning goals, and then we move to extend the learning experiences students are engaging in a way that moves them beyond the point that was possible with traditional learning tools.

A year and a half ago, Jeff and I began discussing the potential of establishing a district podcast where we can both accomplish goals for our respective areas of work.  What we came up with is the content for our presentation.

We spent the first portion of the presentation talking about the why of this project.  Why did we do it, and why do we believe in it?  We framed the discussion around three main points; purpose, power, and product.  We each answered how our goals worked in these three points.  We then talked about the process that got us to a district podcast.

The questions we posed for each point were:


Jeff- How are your current communication strategies engaging your stakeholders?

Ben- What are you doing to create engaging learning experiences for students?


Jeff- What you are doing to create ownership of your message and brand?

Ben- What are you doing to release ownership of learning to your students?


Jeff- Is your product adaptable to emerging technologies?

Ben- Are your learning experiences adaptable to emerging technologies?

We presently have three different shows in the network.  Elementary Insights, where our Superintendent of schools has a discussion with elementary students about issues and topics of interest happening in our district.  The Midpoint, where members of our Board of Education have discussions with middle school students about what is taking place in the district.  The Barrington 2:20, where high school students report on stories from the community.  To hear a short sample of each show, click here.

We started the network a year ago, and if you look at our blog, you will notice a serious lapse in new content.  We spent the fall and early winter in a targeted effort to transition to a new content management system for our district, and once that transition is complete, we will move all our podcasts to our new platform.  This work is nearly at the point where the podcast network can begin again, and in fact, we recently recorded new content for Elementary Insights and The Midpoint.  Both should be released within the next week or two.

I believe a partnership with communications and instruction can yield powerful results for students, teachers, and the community.  I could talk a whole lot on this subject, but I’ll leave it at this.  If you have any questions on this project, please feel free to let me know.


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