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Calling All Podcasters!! Experts, Novices and Newbies Welcome!

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The college has more roughly 35-40 courses using podcasts every semester. Academic Technology was considering an event where podcasters can share with each other (and interested others) what it is they are doing, how it has effected student learning and engagement, and what practices they feel work best.

We’d like it keep it somewhat informal and will provide food. What do you think? We’d like at least 4 podcasters from different disciplines to present.

Please call us at extention X2002 and let us know you’re interested, or send an email to casedtech at gmail dot com.

Podcasting from an iPhone: AudioBoo app from the iTunes Store

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[Update: Now iPhones have voice recording built it with the latest software update! See the tutorials on converting and naming audio files to create podcasts. But AudioBoo, the service works from other devices and has some really cool features, like hosting and embed codes, so it's still worth checking out!!]

AudioBoo is a new service that allows iPhone podcasting.  You can download the free application from the iTunes Store, and begin recording, sharing, and publishing podcasts on the fly right from your iPhone.  It’s easy and simple to use, sort of like a twitter-type service for quick and easy podcasts.

One of the things I like best about this app is that the podcasts published to AudioBoo’s servers are returned with an embed code, so you can easily embed the player and podcast to any blog or website. (See AudioBoo’s website and click any podcast to see the share codes.)

It also offers Twitter and Facebook updates if you’re so inclined, and the founders have reported that they are working on a WordPress Widget which will pull your latest “boo’s” (podcasts) right into your blog.

The interface for recording is minimal and intuitive, as is the audio player returned with the recorded podcast.  Below is a short video walkthrough of recording and publishing a podcast using this app:

Walking through Audioboo from Mark Rock on Vimeo.

The Future: Screen Recording with Quicktime X

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[Update: this feature was released in September and comes packaged with Snow Leopard]. One of the things that faculty often request when it comes to podcasting or creating multimedia materials for class is the ability to screen record. I’ve written about the various apps out there for screen recording before, but it looks like the future Quicktime X platform might change the game forever, and I’ve got to say I’m pretty excited about the potential. This may be sort of a geeky thing to get so jazzed about, but if you’ve worked with video across various platforms, have budgetary restrictions to deal with, and have tried to make the job of screen recording and distributing those to students for download a simple one, then you probably know exactly where I’m coming from! ;)

Right now, on Windows machines, the best answer for this task is Camtasia, which costs around $200 for a single user educational license. Although it is a powerful app, it’s pretty much overkill for most of our faculty’s needs and there is quite a bit of a learning curve involved with using it.

For the Mac, there is no one all-powerful app like Camtasia, but rather some smaller yet efficient (and cheaper) apps like Snapz Pro, ScreenFlow, and iShowU. What always made me scratch my head is why Quicktime Pro, made for both Windows and Mac and only costs $29, lets you record audio and video from a webcam, but doesn’t also allow also for screen recording. Surely it wouldn’t be a large step for Quicktime Pro to have this ability natively.

This morning while checking the Apple rumor-sphere, (via Apple Insider) I happily discovered that Quicktime X, which is being packaged with Apple’s next OS release, Snow Leopard, is scheduled to have this ability built-in:

Artist Rendition of Quicktime X Screen Recording

Artist Rendition of Quicktime X Screen Recording from Apple Insider

I’m hopeful that this will also be available for Windows users. Apple has done a great job thus far supporting the Quicktime architecture across both platforms, and it would be a shame if this didn’t continue. Admittedly, my job would be significantly easier if all our faculty were Mac savvy, but this is not the case.  (Our user rate is about 15-20% of faculty, 40-45% of students).

Anyone who works often with video knows how frustrating it is to work with Windows native .wmv files. Giving our faculty the ability to record their screens in .mov format for only $30 (if the prices stays the same) would solve a lot of problems and save a lot of money. In addition, we could have one standard across the university when it comes to recording, rather than supporting the 4 to 5 different software applications we have to support now.

We also use Podcast Producer running on an Xserve for all of our processing, compression, and publishing so faculty aren’t tied up with the lengthy post-production involved with working with video. Faculty can submit any video or audio file for processing that the free Quicktime Player will play (which of course includes any .mov file), and Podcast Producer will handle all of the post-production, publishing, and distribution for them. If Quicktime X allows for native screen recording, then faculty currently processing their own videos in order to export them from various screen recording programs they are locked in will be freed from that clunky, time-consuming task and can simply submit their files when they are finished recording them.

Am I asking too much here that Quicktime X will have the same set of features for Windows users as Mac users? Given that Apple has offered the same Quicktime Player and Quicktime Pro feature set to both Windows and Mac users, I don’t think I am. Then again there is the hardware and other technical elements that may play a part in a Windows user’s ability to do this with Quicktime X, but if Apple can make it happen, I sure hope that they do.

Podcasting is Much Easier with Podcast Producer

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We’ve been using Apple’s Podcast Producer to accommodate over 30 course sections per semester in creating a variety of podcasts which integrate into course curricula. Podcast Producer provides an easy-to-use, intuitive interface which allows the choice of screen-casting, video recording, audio recording, or file uploads.  The user chooses a type, and begins recording with a click of the button.  When finished, they click “publish” and presto, their work is finished. 

The files is sent to Podcast Producer (which we currently run on an Xserve) where all of the processing, encoding, and publishing takes place. The podcast can be published to iTunes, blogs, YouTube, or any other file accessible system.

Our course podcasts are mainly published to iTunes U which is integrated with our Blackboard system.  The podcasts can then be delivered to only the students enrolled in the class.  

For our public productions, Podcast Producer adds bumpers, intros and outros, metadata including cover art, and publishes in multiple formats. Look for more posts in the future on podcasting with Podcast Producer.

iTunes University and Blackboard Tutorials

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We’ve just updated our online tutorials for using iTunes U and Blackboard. Go on and head over to learn more! (Note that these tutorials relate to using Blackboard with the iTunes Building Block written by and released from Vanderbilt University).picture-25.png

Audio Recording with New iPods (and other mp3 recorders)

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ipodsnew.jpgWant to create an audio podcast? Do you have a new iPod or are you going to get one? The latest models of the iPod Nano, iPod Classic, iPod Touch and iPhone all have the ability to record audio, which later can be brought into iTunes, turned into a podcast, and uploaded anywhere you’d like to deliver it.

The only requirement for the latest iPod Nanos and Classics is earphones with a built-in microphone or any other iPod compatible microphone. (If you own an older iPod Nano or Classic, see posts about purchasing and using the Griffin iTalk device. This is no longer needed on the latest versions of the iPod.)

For the iPod Touch and iPhone there is a free application from the iTunes Application store called iTalk Recorder which will also accomplish the task of recording audio from a microphone connected to your device.

Of course, there are cheaper recorders than an iPod. An Amazon search for “digital mp3 recorders” reveals all sorts of portable recorders at prices for anyone’s liking.

Regardless of whether you capture your audio with an iPod or other device, once the device is hooked up to your computer you can easily drag the files to iTunes to convert the files, rename them and add all of the necessary information.

Tips: Using the Flip Video for Video Podcasts

cameras, equipment, iTunes, podcast, tutorial, video 3 Comments »

picture-5.pngThe Flip Video Ultra has been a big hit among faculty, staff, and students who have used it this semester. The video and sound quality are impressive for such a small, easy to operate, uncomplicated device. So far it has been used to record short student presentations, capture video of projects, and to video short student-related events. I promised to write a little something about using the Flip Video Ultra camera for video podcasting, so here’s a brief overview of what to do and what to keep in mind when using it.

Shooting:

  • The camera runs on double AA batteries, and video recording uses a lot of power, so buy rechargeables and keep some handy.
  • It can record 60 minutes of video clips before it is full (this is the Ultra series only, prior models only record for 30 minutes).
  • The Flip software will put your videos into separate clips based on when you start and stop the camera, so use this to your advantage.
  • To capture decent audio, make sure the camera is not too far away from speakers.
  • Digital zoom can become pixelated, so it’s best to move closer to the subject rather than relying too much on this feature.
  • A small, portable, 10″ tripod is available for the Flip for $29 to avoid shaking and moving, and it also can be mounted to almost any other larger tripod.

Editing and Compression:

Read the rest of this entry »

Converting Audio Files in iTunes

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iTunes can easily convert audio files that were recorded with portable devices such as iPods or other recorders to podcast formats such as AAC or mp3 (see post on The Difference to learn more about these formats). The following video covers converting files with iTunes and adding information such as titles and artist:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/yjrKb4WDOHk" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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Here is a step by step for converting files to AAC or mp3 format:

Convert to AAC (m4a)

  • Drag the file to iTunes.
  • While the file is highlighted click the Advanced menu at the top.
  • Choose Convert Selection to AAC (for MP3 conversion see below)

aac1.jpg

iTunes makes a duplicate copy of it in the new format. To check the file type (since you now have the original WAV file and an AAC file with the same name, right click your file and choose Get Info. There you will see the file type and be sure you choose the converted one). You can also add information to the track, as well as podcast artwork that you have designed. Drag converted the file out of iTunes to your desktop for easy uploading.

or Convert to MP3

  • Follow the directions above using the Advanced menu, but prior to doing so, go to iTunes > Preferences > Advanced > Importing
  • There, change the Import Using: AAC to Import Using: MP3 Encoder
  • Now when you highlight the track and choose Advanced on the top menu, you will see Convert Selection to MP3 rather than AAC.

preferences.jpgimport_mp3.jpg

Thanks Doug Seidler over at NESAD for pointing this out to me!

Choosing a Format: Audio, Video, or Screen Recording?

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question-mark.jpgWhich type of podcast do you need to create for your course? Choosing the right format is important and dictates the way you go about creating your content and how much work is involved.

First considering the message and what is required to convey it effectively will assist you in choosing the best format and options.

Audio:

  • Easiest format for the content producer (equipment: a mic and computer or portable recording device)
  • Smaller file sizes, software editing tools (if needed) are available free (see Audacity)
  • Most portable to the end user (can be played on many devices beyond a computer)
  • Best suited for: lectures and any other message or discussion where visuals are not paramount to the message
  • Equipment: Mircophone or Portable Recording Device, Computer
  • Software Choices: Audacity, Garageband, Quicktime, iTunes

Video:

  • More complex for content prodcuer (equipment requires a video camera or webcam, depending on recording locations)
  • Very large file sizes, software editing tools range from free to very expensive (computer processing power and time required to process video also important)
  • Less portable to end user (can be played on computer but may not play on certain portable devices)
  • Best suited for: Messages when visuals of speakers or events are paramount to the message, or would greatly enhance message quality.
  • Equipment: Flip Video or Other Camcorders, Webcams or Apple’s built in iSight Camera
  • Software: Apple: iMovie, Final Cut. Windows: Windows Movie Maker, Avid

Screencasting:

  • More complex for content producer (microphone and computer needed, must be done at computer)
  • Large file sizes, software tools needed for capture and editing are not free and range from $50 to $400 depending on needs.
  • Portability for end user depends on players (as in video example above)
  • Best suited for: Tutorials and situations where content shown on the computer screen is central to the message.
  • Equipment: Microphones and Computer
  • Software: Windows: Camtasia. Apple: Snapz Pro or Screen Flow

Choosing a Microphone for Podacsting

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PSU has a great support section for podcasting help. Following is a clip they’ve created on the different microphone options available to podcasters. What’s most important is to assess your needs and the environment in which you will be creating your podcast. Is portability an issue? Will you be podcasting in front of a computer? Or on the go? The options outlined below are best suited for podcasters who will be utilizing a computer during podcast capturing. (For options on the go, see posts on the iPod and other mp3 recording devices).

picture-19.png

Podcasting in Plain English

podcast, tutorial No Comments »

Another great explanation from the folks at Common Craft. Here’s their newest one, released yesterday, “Podcasting in Plain English”:

Confessions of a Podcast Junkie: A Student Perspective

21st Century Learning, pedagogy, research No Comments »

rss-headphones-logo.jpg(The following was cross-posted in the blog, EdTech Bits)

What are some student perspectives on podcasting? Carie Windham, former undergraduate student, North Carolina State University, and current graduate student, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland presents her own views and experiences with podcasting as well as views from several students she interviewed in the paper: Confessions of a Podcast Junkie: A Student Perspective.

In “Confessions…”, Windham recounts her own introduction to and involvement with podcasting (and how she became a “podcast junkie”) and cites student data and interviews from University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of British Columbia, Bentley College, Duke University, and DePaul University. Some of the conclusions are as follows:

All the students identified the same benefits to podcasting technology:
• The ability to access course content on a 24-hour basis
• The chance to take their learning mobile so that listening can be done on the bus, at the gym, or on a walk between classes
• The creativity factor when making podcasts: they can present the content in a way that they choose
• The ease of access: podcasts can be easily downloaded from the Internet for free

For teaching and learning, the students saw concrete benefits to podcasting projects, especially when compared with standard modes of testing, such as writing a paper or doing a class demonstration:
• They were able to get “intimate” with course material, either by re-listening to course lectures and supplements or by teaching the rest of the class.
• They could showcase their projects to the rest of the community, expanding the reach of
the classroom to their friends or members of the community.
• They had the opportunity to review course material during pertinent moments in the semester, such as before exams or during course projects.
• They learned new technical skills, whether they were downloading files or creating new ones.

Finally, all the students reported that they enjoyed their classes more because of the inclusion of podcasting, and all hoped that more faculty members would use podcasting in the future. Michael Martinez-Mann said it best when he said of podcasting: “The possibilities are absolutely limitless. If there’s an idea, there’s a way to do it.”

Some of the sections of the paper also include:

  • Podcasting in the Real World: Student Use (and Misuse) of Podcast Technology
  • Notes on the Go: Offering Lectures and Class Notes via Podcasting
  • In Their Hands: Students as Podcast Creators
  • A Microphone and an Idea: Nonacademic Podcasting on Campus
  • If I Were in Charge: Tips for Faculty

Windham’s paper is informative, well-written, and entertaining, and was published in EDUCAUSE Review, Vol. 42 (May/June 2007). It also appears on the web in the resource-rich ELI Discovery Tool: Guide to Podcasting in the section “What Do Students Think?”

While whitepapers, research, and case studies are certainly useful, it’s definitely refreshing to get student perspectives directly from students in their own voices.

Podcasting: A Teaching with Technology Whitepaper from Carnegie Mellon

21st Century Learning, pedagogy, research No Comments »

The Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University released a comprehensive whitepaper last summer on teaching and learning with podcasting. The whitepaper covers file production, podcast publication, and delivery and playback of podcasts, as well various case studies from 2006 and 2007 which explore the different uses of educational podcasting:

Abstract: Sharing audio and video files on the Web has been possible for most of the last decade. Why, then, in the past two years has podcasting exploded onto the scene and become such a hot topic in educational technology? How does this new technology and its widespread adoption create new opportunities in education? Is it just a passing trend, or is there genuine potential to improve the quality of the educational experience and learning outcomes? This paper attempts to answer these questions through the exploration of educational podcasting in three realms: the creation and distribution of lecture archives for review, the delivery of supplemental educational materials and content, and assignments requiring students to produce and submit their own podcasts.

Some highlights of student uses and perspectives on podcasted lectures revealed the following:

  • Most students perceive lecture podcasts as a tool for review, rather than as a replacement for attending lectures
  • Many students who use recorded lectures for review believe the practice has a positive impact on their performance. In a UM study, 85% of survey respondents who used the lecture archives believed it had a positive effect on exam grades
  • 20% of students in the UW study listened to more than 75% of recorded lectures. In addition to picking and choosing which lectures to review, many students also scan the lectures, fast-forwarding to specific points or sections, and listening to particular portions multiple times
  • The convenience of RSS subscription increases the likelihood that students download files

The paper is available for download in PDF format from Carnegie Mellon University.

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