MITC 2010: Creating and Distributing Audio/Video Podcasts

Presenter: Joe Dimino

This is a bit unusual because instead of the usual tablet PC that I normally use for liveblogging, I am using a netbook provided by the presenter. This is really my first experience with a netbook. The keyboard is definitely smaller, but not too bad, though I am tending to hit keys I normally wouldn’t (mostly I type “/” when trying to type a period).

We’ll see how it goes.

From what I can tell from the handout, this will be a “hands-on” exercise using Audacity and Windows MovieMaker. However, even though everyone has been provided with a netbook to use for the session, it does require each of us to install Audacity and MovieMaker–the machines have NOT been set up with all the required software. I anticipate this to take some time during the intro part of the session. It’s a 2-hour session, but needless time will undoubtedly be spent getting everyone’s machine ready. Naturally, having worked in IT, my own netbook looks like it is good to go. Except for Windows Live Movie Maker which doesn’t appear to be downloading. Most likely the local wireless network is not going to handle everyone in the session (about 2 dozen people) downloading the Movie Maker software at once. Joe is going to go through the Movie Maker process on his machine.

The sample web site for the session (http://www.csd4.k12.mo.us/morenetraining_Oct10.html) has numerous examples of podcasts used at Joe’s school as well as links to Audacity and the LAME encoder used to convert files into MP3.

For videos, Joe uses Flip video cameras (EdTech recently bought one to experiment with). He loves it. Everyone who’s tried ours likes it. They are available in HD and are quite affordable (both standard and HD are available for less than $200).

Joe uses Movie Maker or iMovie to add features to his podcasts such as textual layers and so on. Camtasia, which EdTech often uses, also allows for a number of additional features that can enhance a video podcast.

As I expected, a number of folks are having difficulty installing Audacity on their netbooks. Whenever doing a “hands-on” exercise, it helps to have all of the machines ready to go. I’m glad that when we do our conference in March 2011, we will be able to use a high-speed network with powerful machines in Civil 115–we will also coordinate with “hands-on” presenters to get the machines ready.

Recommended tool — Plantraonics Audio 655 USB headset/microphone, available from Amazon for around $30.

Joe’s web site has a number of links to some downloadable sounds and music. Most is available for free, but some will require coordinating with the IP holder (e.g. the artist Moby allows non-profits to use some of his music for free, but you will still need permission).

A good question from the audience–how do you record a phone conversation for a podcast? Joe has several good answers. One is to use Skype, if possible, because you can easily record the conversation. If you don’t have Skype, then you can use a standard microphone held close to the receiver. Although the quality of the audio will still be pretty poor even for a high-quality phone service (e.g. S&T VoIP is pretty high quality compared to cell phone or standard land line), Audacity does have some tools to tweak the audio files for quality.

 

 

Second Annual Teaching and Learning Technology Conference April 9-10, 2009

Educational Technology will be hosting its second annual Missouri S&T Teaching and Learning Technology Conference in the Havener Center on April 9-10, 2009.  All campus faculty and staff are welcome to attend.  

We believe it is important to our campus community to showcase the many ways in which faculty and staff use technology to enhance the learning experience for our students.

If you are interested in attending this conference, please visit the EdTech web site for the registration information.  Registered attendees will be eligible to win a number of door prizes (including a SMART Board!).  

Dr. Stephen Ehrmann and Dr. Bryan Carter will be the opening and closing keynote speakers, respectively.

  • Dr. Ehrmann is the director of the Flashlight Program on assessment and evaluation for the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Group (tltgroup.org).
  • Dr. Carter is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Central Missouri and has a great deal of experience in using virtual worlds to enhance his instruction (e.g. Second Life).

Other presenters include a diverse array faculty and staff from Missouri S&T and around the world:

  Dr. Matt Insall – Mathematics and Statistics, Missouri S&T
  Dr. Irina Ivliyeva – Arts, Language, and Philosophy, Missouri S&T
  Dr. Margaret Gunderson – University of Missouri-Columbia
  Dr. Suzanna Long – Engineering Management & Systems Engineering, Missouri S&T
  Dr. Laurie Novy – Kaplan University
  Dr. Jeff Thomas – Interdisciplinary Engineering, Missouri S&T
  Dr. Judith Sebesta – University of Missouri-Columbia
  Dr. Eli Collins-Brown – Methodist College of Nursing
  Dr. Anne Bartel-Radic – Universite de Savoie, France
  Mark Bookout – Director of Technology Support Services, Missouri S&T
  Lauren Oswald – Learning Space Designer, Missouri S&T
  Chris Moos – Missouri Southern State University
  Jill Pegg – Methodist College of Nursing
  James West – Missouri Baptist University

Vendors will be on hand to display their technologies and answer questions about the technologies we have employed here on campus.

Several groups on campus associated with teaching and learning technologies will have poster presentations about their projects and activities.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Podcasting…But Were Afraid To Ask!

ipod-touch.png"Podcasting" is a term that actually encompasses a number of different technologies, all working together to deliver audio and/or video content on a particular topic.
A podcast is different from a normal audio file (such as a music file) in that they also allow a user to subscribe to a podcast feed, such that as new podcasts become available, they can be immediately downloaded to your computer for future listening.
I found an extremely comprehensive web site called PoducateMe which will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about podcasting and then some. The author, MIcah Ovadia, even provides detailed technical specifications for an optimal podcasting setup for a mostly reasonable price. If you are interested in creating podcasts, then there is an investment of time and financial resources required to get a podcasting setup that delivers high-quality audio content. Ovadia describes how he set up a podcasting system for about $1000, but you can certainly create podcasts for much less, though the audio quality might suffer a bit. Video podcasts will require some investment in a digital video camera in addition to the audio software and hardware.
Besides the technical aspects of podcasting, Ovadia also explores some applications of podcasting in education and describes the experiences of podcasting at other institutions. Overall, PoducateMe is very, very comprehensive and also a great introduction to the technology. Some of the technical aspects can be a bit overwhelming if you are not an electrical or acoustical engineer, but it the general discussion is still pretty easy to follow.
Podcasts are typically packaged in MP3 format or some other format that maintains a reasonable level of audio quality while at the same time utilizing the minimum amount of storage space. Prior to packaging in MP3 format, an audio file can take up several MB of storage space (over a hundred MB if you include medium-definition or high-definition video).
Podcasts should also be kept relatively short (15-30 minutes). This serves the dual purpose of keeping the files relatively small while also helping to keep a listener’s interest. Many people listen to podcasts in their cars or otherwise engaged in another activity, such as jogging or gardening, so the idea is to give listeners something to focus their minds on while their hands are busy.
Several faculty on this campus are using or have used podcasting technology to supplement their courses and keep students engaged in the materials. I know that the Russian professor (Dr. Irina Ivliyeva) and the French professor (Dr. Audra Merfeld-Langston) have used Audacity in their classes to record their students speaking the foreign languages. The students can then hear themselves speaking and work to correct their pronunciations. As far as I know, these recording are strictly for student use during or outside of class, but Audacity is one of the principle technologies used to create a podcast.
Dr. Richard Hall has used video in his classes to supplement his material as well. He creates some videos on his own, but also uses freely available videos from the web.
If you want to simply use podcasts instead of creating them, then you can subscribe to a number of podcast-hosting services, such as iTunes. One of the advantages of iTunes podcasts is that they have iTunes U. iTunes U is where many universities and colleges post their content, which is freely available for download. MIT is one of several institutions that has a number of courses hosted on iTunes U, so this might be a good way to supplement your courses or spark a discussion among your students.
I think it would be great if we (Missouri S&T) could establish our own presence in iTunes U, but this would require significant time, resources, and investment from all levels of the university. Actually, we should probably start very small, but we would still need some dedicated resources to manage the content and drive the program to make it successful. Stanford University has a PDF document that outlines the steps an institution should take to get started (they were among the first institutions to join Apple in creating iTunes U). Any one interested in getting the ball rolling on this?