You may have noticed that I write quite a bit about podcasts, yet I don’t actually have one. While it’s true that I’m kicking around a couple ideas for podcasts, and that I am encouraging other educators to get involved with podcasting, I’m more of a writer than a talker.
At the same time, I am a consumer of audio. I listen to a dozen or more podcasts, but only read a couple blogs. Because I have a substantial commute, it’s much easier for me to listen to content than to read it.
What we really need is for someone to read blogs to me. If I could take the content that I most want to read, and get someone to record it to a podcast, then I could listen to it in the car and stay caught up.
Talkr sort of does that. After signing up (for free), you can give it up to three blog feeds. The service records them as podcasts, and makes them available in a separate feed. So people could subscribe to your podcast feed, which gets updated automatically whenever you create a new blog entry. You can get an idea of how this works by listening to this blog post.
Of course, it’s not perfect. It’s the typical, computer-robot-tech voice that’s been around for a generation. It’s hard for computer generated speech to sound right, because it doesn’t include the right inflection or tone. Still, it’s a lot better than some of the old text-to-speech tools.
How can we use this in schools? First of all, anyone who has a blog could now have a podcast. This would certainly help with visually impaired students, but others may benefit as well. At the district level, we could use the RSS feed from the school sites to create a daily podcast of district news, though I’d like to combine the feeds from all of the schools before we do that. While the tool is meant for bloggers who want to provide podcasts, you can enter any feed, so you could create podcasts for your students of other sites that you want them to hear.
It’s not the holy grail. I don’t think I’ll be listening to hours of computer-generated speech. But this is better than I thought it would be.