Podcasts! I think podcasts are potentially the most effective professional development tool we have available to us. As in many districts, my district's latest push is for educators to engage in personal professional learning communities. I think podcasting is a powerful professional development tool that perfectly fits into this model. I know podcasting has certainly changed my professional learning!
As with so many things in life, I came to be interested in podcasts because of my daughter. She got an iPod for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I never thought I would really be that interested in one. Then I discovered how many podcasts were available! And they were all FREE! It wasn't long until I had an iPod of my own, and so did my husband!
I have dozens of podcasts, personal and professional, that I download regularly. I use iTunes primarily. There are so many really good casts that I sometimes have a hard time listening to all of them!
One podcast that I listen to every week as soon as it posts is Women of Web 2.0 through the EdTechTalk channel. In fact, just about all of the EdTechTalk casts are worth a listen. A great resource for our American History teachers is the cast produced by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. It regularly covers topics that really help bring the colonial period to life--interesting stuff like what people wore, how they made wigs, what a slave's life was really like, etc. Geek!ed! is also a must-listen each week. I like this cast because the hosts, all from a school district in Michigan, represent a variety of educators' views --from technology teacher to IT director to edtech director, etc. They are silly and thought-provoking and just fun to listen to. It is fascinating to hear how many issues we have in common, even though we are from very different & distant states.
Ooo! And I forgot to mention that so many conference sessions are now podcasted that I can "sit in" on conferences that I can't manage to get to!
I find that I listen to these podcasts in the minutes that I spend commuting or waiting in carpool lines or in traffic jams. In this way, I have a much richer professional development life than I did before. Pre-iPod, many nights my professional reading was, frankly, when I was too tired to really give it my full attention. Podcasting is a perfect fit for me.
More personal favorites are Hometown Tales (because every town has one), Rick Steves' Travel , TEDTalks video podcasts, Reading Rockets Author Interviews...