Where Did The Work Around Podcast Go?

work around podcast logo with x's over Jon's eyes, and the word "canceled" painted over the podcast logoYou might have noticed that there hasn’t been a new Work Around Podcast in quite some time. To cut straight to the chase, I quit, or at least I’m putting that project on hold for now. So let’s talk about it- why I’m taking a break from podcasting, what went well, what could have gone better, and what I learned from the whole process. At the end, I’ll also give you an update of my goals for FortneyTECH.

First, I’d be remiss to not express my gratitude to everyone who’s ever listened to the podcast, all of the guests and to all those who stepped outside their comfort zone to record EDU Tangents! The podcast was growing and was sustainable- I even received a few emails from people wanting to be guests on the show to promote their projects (though their goals and mine didn’t line up.) All of this is because of you! I’m honored that you’d spend your time listening to my monotone voice and am humbled by the kind reviews and feedback that I received about the project. Thanks.

Educational Podcasts: Not how I Learn Best

Podcasts are absolutely my favorite form of media to consume- they are often as engrossing as reading a book, but are free and short(ish)

A list of my favorite podcasts is:
This American Life
Yo, is This Racist?
Still Processing
Secular Buddhism with Noah Rasheta
The RobCast with Rob Bell
Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness
Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Also I just binge listened to Dr. Death and holy moly- that should actually be first on the list!

(All of these podcasts should be available wherever you listen)

You might have noticed that there were no Education podcasts on that list…I have a lot of respect for people who make podcasts for teachers, including some good friends of mine, and I mean no disrespect to anyone who makes or listens to edu podcasts, they're just not for me.

That said, education podcasts are a great tool for teachers- it’s free professional development delivered to phones and consumed at the listeners leisure, typically during otherwise mundane tasks like washing dishes, mowing the lawn or driving to work. That said, as a whole, and as a product, educational podcasts are not really tailored to how I learn best. I prefer a quick, cut to the chase format where I can essentially get what I came for in about 3 minutes rather than 30 minutes. I also prefer visual learning, like watching YouTube videos (with the speed at 1.5 or 2x faster) or Jake Miller’s EDU GIFS. 

chef cutting an appleWhen I read blog posts (which is more often than I would have expected,) I tend to skim, find relevant headings, and look at the pictures. For example, when I’m reading a recipe, I rarely care about why said recipe changed the chef’s life and why it is superior to other recipes- I just care about the ingredients, the steps and what the food should look like at various points along the way. I want to start cooking.

Similarly, with EdTech, If I’m learning about how to use a new program, I don’t particularly care to read about why the program has revolutionized teaching for a particular teacher, I want to get some bullet pointed ideas about how to use it in my classroom, and maybe a few tips and tricks about how to use the program to its fullest potential. I want to start playing with the program and figuring it out!

This is why I don’t love Educational Podcasts. It’s really hard to sift through and get what I want out of a podcast in the speed that I would prefer. 

Admittedly, the Work Around Podcast isn’t so much about EdTech, but is more about teaching philosophy. One of my goals has always been to discuss systematic oppression and how to deal with it in the classroom. While I’m proud of what was accomplished through this podcast, I can say with all certainty that there are enumerable podcasts that deal with these same issues more successfully. 

The other large component of the podcast was EDU Tangents- where a teacher would discuss their teaching career and the journey they took to get to where they are today. I think this is an incredibly valuable thing. People’s unique stories are hugely important and are not only inspirational, but often show us the similarities we have as humans. I’m looking forward to exploring how to incorporate this into FortneyTECH in the future.

Essentially, what it comes down to is that I was creating a product that I otherwise would not consume. 

Additionally, I was using a free trial for hosting the podcast where if I don’t pay money, episodes are deleted after 90 days. Approaching the 90 day mark, I had to decide if podcasting was really worth me investing my money into. Ultimately, I decided it was not worth my money. 

What I Learned From Podcasting and how I Want to Use it in my Classroom

Okay, I just got through saying a ton of relatively negative things about podcasting and about how I’m a podcasting washup; however, I learned so much from the process. I can say that without a doubt, some of the work I’m most proud of in my career has been the Work Around Podcast. I really enjoyed the writing process, and working to make it sound professional from a production standpoint. 

child screaming into microphone
Taking pride in one’s work is something that I desperately want to pass on to my students. Essentially, growing up, no school work mattered to me unless they were essay writing projects. I had found my preferred method of communicating what I’d learned, and nothing else seemed to matter. Trifolds, dioramas, and the like were just busy work for me because my artistic deficiencies held me back from demonstrating what I knew to the fullest. I want my students to be able to turn in work that they are proud of, and that they know is the best representation of what they’ve learned. This might involve writing an essay, but it might also involve podcasting, or creating a diorama and with the power of green screen, recording a video presenting from inside aforementioned diorama (I saw this on Twitter a few months ago and it totally blew me away!) It could be an interpretive dance, a poem or a song. The possibilities are endless, and I want my students to have the resources and experiences to make informed decisions about how they want to present information most efficiently and most effectively: work they’re proud of. 

My FortneyTECH Goals for the future


Right now, I want to focus on building up my blog. I want to get back to writing, and would like to actually schedule time for myself to write. I feel like my previous posts have just been efforts to get something posted, but I want to work hard on my posts!

Additionally, I’d like to post videos to YouTube monthly(ish.) As I’m writing this, I’ve been preparing to do a livestream video of my recent conference presentation entitled “The Incredible Magic of Google Drawings.” Aslo, I’d like to record EDU Tangents via Google Hangouts + Livestream to YouTube in a format more akin to an interview. 

YouTube is a media form that is incredible (you should check out Jen Leban’s Reset EDU!) but it is just emerging in the education sphere. I’d like to explore this venue along with other cutting edge methods of sharing what I’m learning. 

As for all of the Work Around Podcast episodes (I mentioned that they’re getting deleted 90 days after they originally posted) they will all be moving over to YouTube as well! I also have one final episode to post- an EDU Tangent with Laura Cahill! I hope to be posting that episode along with previously released episodes soon! I’ll keep you in the loop. 

Thank you for your support in all of this and for reading until the end… or skimming, that’s cool too! You rock! 

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