All 9 entries tagged Podcasting
December 24, 2006
Using Podcasting in Education
What follows is a review of my research findings so far regarding the uses of podcasting in an educational environment and some ways of developing one’s own skills which have to take on board some technical issues at a fairly basic level and also production issues in terms of the contents of what is podcast.
What follows has already been influenced by the interactivity of Web 2 internet technologies which is only right. In many ways this has developed rhizomatically for all you (Deluezians out there). The work here is also preliminary work for a certificate in Innovations in e.Learning run by the Open University. (The course is starting in February so if you are inspired by this check it out).
Much of this work has been stimulated by some great experiences with my AS Media Students at Sixth Form College Solihull. We had a great time playing with the Moodle Virtual Learning environment as it was being installed. This experience convinced me that Web 2 represented a significant shift in the ways in which education can work. It made education fun again -right now an awful lot of it is so regimented that education in a liberal sense has been overwhelmed by managerialist discourse – and we were all learning the possibilities.
It certainly worked for some of my students. I met one in Harvey Nichols in Birmingham last week. She was clearly a fashion fan so it was no surprise that she was working there. What was lovely was that although billed to get a ‘D’ she’d managed to gain an ‘A’ on this particular unit and I heard that other students had done better than expected on this unit. That was anecdotal proof to me that being a little less prescriptive and giving students the possibility to drive things – up to a point – can (should?) translate into good results.
The cultural milieu which students work in is very important. There are many paths to learning in terms of developing higher order patterns of thought, and over-reductionist approaches to classroom management are not the only way to gain results.
Thanks to Chris Coe at Warwick e.learning for helping me on the path to blogging. Then thanks to Tom Abbott, the Warwick University Communications Officer, for offering and giving me some of his valuable time. Tom showed me some of the latest podcasting and video equipment and discussed some of the practicalities of producing podcasts particularly in relation to educational purposes. Thanks also to Robert O’Toole for commenting on a blog posting and putting me onto one of the registered suppliers for University of Warwick.
This supplier has got the some of the best descriptions about recording equipment and is a useful way into finding out about some (not all) of the major products which you will probably wish to consider if like me you are just starting out.
One nice thing about this is that there is an exciting atmosphere of ‘just get out there and do it’. As yet there are no precise formulae and there is the mental space allowed to make mistakes. There is something quite exciting about being able to get your voice (quite literally) out there in a way which offers interested people across the world or in your teaching sphere at the local level the opportunity to listen and to respond.
The initial financial entry barriers are very low for aspiring educators and it is clear that humanity is on the brink of another huge communications revolution which in terms of interactivity and reciprocity is opening up our horizons of possibility. This tempts me to point out that even if you are not doing it your students probably will be!
Below I have listed several applications of how podcasting can be used within an educational settting. On a separate posting I will summarise what I have found out about the equipment required to get into podcasting relating this to what you activities you will expect to be undertaking. Different equipment should be used in different settings.
Educational Applications for Podcasting. Production by the Educator
We can split podcasting roughly into two areas: direct usage by the educator and direct usage by students.
There is a range of applications in which podcasting can be used for educational purposes by the educator. This list is not meant to be comprehensive but identifies some common possibilities. There will be separate postings for each point listed immediately below. After that I discuss the advantages of podcast lectures / talks. I then argue that some of the outcomes make a persuasive argument for much greater institutional investment in these developments.
- Individual teacher / lecturer presentations
- Carrying out interviews within a familiar internal environment
- Carrying out location based interviews perhaps in the open
- Recording visiting speakers giving talks
- Recording student presentations
- Recording small group discussions
Podcast Lectures / Talks
This usage can be very rewarding although its use has been controversial. A lecturer at Bradford University has been one of the leading practitioners of this approach. ( Follow this link for more on Dr. Bill Ashraf ).
- Podcast lectures can function as a replacement for the physical lecture
- This gives students the opporutunity to predigest the original material and empowers them to ask more searching questions
- Students are able to listen as many times as they wish. they can also listen in places such as public transport where reading might be far less productive or entirely impossible. Student time can be used more productively
- The feedback process allows the lecturer to refine the original the original to make points more clearly if they have been weakly understood. Reflexivity is therefore built in
- Once the lecturer / teacher is satisfied that the content and mode of presentation is right it can be stored for use in the future freeing up development time
- Should significant changes in the knowledge base emerge the talk can be re-edited to ensure extra longevity.
- Digitally based archival storage medium is very stable unlike old audio tapes
- The product is excellent for team working across several groups. Colleagues can work productively on something else to develop an in depth resource base.
- Colleagues can also easily cover absences as they will know exactly what the students have been exposed to.
Summary of usage for talks / lectures
Making a podcast will initially take more time to produce. Even after going through the equipment learning curve careful attention to structure, pace and rhythm is needed. Attention to radio style communication is important. Lecturers and teachers will neeed training in the techniques. Communications media for teaching will undoubtedly become increasingly important for porfessional practice.
Institutions will need to create professional development time for their educators to learn these techniques. Teachers and lecturers will need to stop whingeing about whether this ‘creates more work’ and have a more get out and do approach. There is a professional responsibility required here. By the same token government (and therefore managers) need to become less obsessed by ‘metrics’ i.e. positivist quantitative reductionism and focus upon educational outcomes and what education actually means for society beyond the terminology of ‘skillsets’.
Pedagogically the evidence is that podcasting lectures is more effective, thus supporting the underlying logic of transferability and flexibility of the medium. The medium is highly flexible in terms of where, when and how it is used by the student. It also has the advantage that it is inherently more human than the more abstract form of communications which is writing.
The ability to use in teams or even to exchange podcasts on a global basis is something which could only be dreamt off in the past. The essence of Web 2 is the collaborative approach and cross-institutional collaboration can be made far easier and more effective. Thus a gradual move towards this form of communicative interaction will be far more cost effective and productive from the perspective of educational budgets.
The argument being put forward here is that even if none of the other uses of podcasting within education are considered the importance of being able to create a vast range of talks by large numbers of people with enthusiasm and expertise would dramatically widen the cultural milieu. It is therefore worth doing in its own right.
Another advantage of the system is that people not registered to courses would be able to gain access. They may be parents, prospective students etc. Thus openness and transparency would become embedded within the wider society and access to ideas and information would be easier and cheaper.
December 22, 2006
The practicalities of audio production
The practicalities of audio production whether podcasting or radio go well beyond just the technical aspects. There are many things to learnt such as good interviewing techniques the optimum length of programmes to name but 2. In this section useful links will be added which will help everybody from scriptwriters to presenters as they are discovered.
As has been commented upon by many an experienced podcaster keeping your target audience engaged is fundamental. Very poor technical production will lose you and audience but the best equipment in the world is no guarantee of success.
The Unseco Community Radio Handbook is available here in PDF format
This is written several years ago however in terms of fundamentals there are lotes of useful elements including good definitions of terms such as Public Service Broadcasting, as well as community broadcasting.
A good link for those intersted in community broadcasting in underdeveloped countries is from Johnathan Marks.
The introduction makes many important points about how radio is an extremely cheap mass medium, however if the $100.00 wind-up laptop from Nicholas Negroponte takes off then suddenly a much larger number of people will be able to access the still priviledged world of internet distribution. The world of podcasting and a multiplicity of specialist audiences will multiply dramatically.
This link is from Channel 4 and gives a few basic approaches to writing and sound production techniques for radio which can of course be used by podcasters.
This blog linked to the Channel 4 The Play’s the Thing above is very interesting and will be added to the favourites section. There are insights into useful technical tricks thsat good soundengineeers develop. See the picture of this double microphone set-up below. You can read about it on the linked blog.
Elsewhere on The Play’s the Thing there is a useful video on recording in a studio with the relationship between actors and microphones explained as well as a basic intro to what equalisation and mixing is about.
This link again to another part of The Play’s the Thing provides a very useful video of making a radio play on location . Again this gives insights into acting the type of microphones which can be used for what purposes and the uses of carpet or acoustic panels to reduces sound reflections in unfavourable room locations.
Drama Writing Career
The Play’s the Thing is a radio drama writing competition open to 16-34 year olds.
This page has a number of good links. The Radio Drama Overview is particularly useful for aspiring scriptwriters with a long list of links attached.
This is another useful link for scriptwriters at Writernet
The differences between transmission on the airwaves and internet distribution.
This is a page linking into a range of useful training resources provided online by the BBC.
Because I have been writing specifically about podcasting I have isolated articles about radio production. This is because many of the production techniques and principles of podcasting are the same as radio. Podcasting is different to radio because anybody can do it legally. Radio as far as I am aware is controlled by national states to the extent that licences are sold to broadcasting organisations who may then use the airwaves.
The possibility of internet radio has circumvented the bandwidth limitations of conventional radio which need to be transmitted whereas internet aplications are uploaded. Transmission through airwaves provides absolute physical parameters which are finite. By comparison internet distribution is only limited by the available broadband connections which can be changed. This is to all intents and purposes infinite.
Link to BBC Radio Training.
This one is on interviewing techniques.
This one is about mcirophones and sound and is essential viewing for all podcasters who like BBC radio jounalists and broadcasters will need to gain some basic understanding of the equipment.
Particularly useful is the tip to always take a condom with you for location work. (If this doesn’t get you visiting the site what will :-) )
December 20, 2006
Audio Editing Software
Of course one of the big advantages for recording in the digital domain is that you can edit your work on screen. Initially the editing functions that you are most likely to want are very straightforward.
They may be little gaps in the recording, perhaps a cough. Maybe you discovered you moved away from the microphone and the original sound was uneven. All these little things can be put right.
The best place to start with all this is probably a freeware programme called Audacity. It is a small programme and can easily be downloded onto your computer. You will also need another small programme called Lame. Both can be downloaded via this online overview of freeware and software for sound editing from Sound on Sound Magazine.
I suggest you make this programme your first port of call.
There are commercial programmes out there from the likes of Adobe and Sony and also very sophisticated music software. At least Audacity is free and will give you more of an idea of what you need.
As I’m not very good with all these tides of technology a kind visitor has pointed out that the Liux open source software operating system has gained the support of independent Audio software developers. The programme is called Jokosher and can be viewed here. As it allows for multitracking it looks like a good option for those developing their skills.
BBC Interview with Alex Donelly outgoing head of music at Radio 1.
OK I’m prejudiced because I’m a bit of a fan of this programme. (In fact, by coincidence I’m listening to it now on my computer through the Listen Again facility on the web :-).
Update on Equipment and Links to Training Videos
The use of podcasting / audio equipment for educational and other communication purposes looks set to grow as the technical barriers are overcome with simpler more effective, less fiddly products.
Below I round up a couple of the latest products on the market which can link straight into your computer with a USB connection without the need for much equipment. You will need some sort of microphone stand for a stand alone mike and of course some shielded cable to reduce potential interference.
As the equipment gets simpler more people are likely to start doing thier own audio recording. Most of us just want to get going rather than turn into equipment junkies circumnavigating large amounts of technical information.
The Rode Podcaster site below is also offering a service of publishing your podcasts on the web if you are one of their clients.
The growth of USB connected podcasting equipment
For very basic equipment to get started, what seems to be a very popular product is the Beyerdynamic MMX-1 headset. By ‘headset’ I mean integrated headphones with a microphone. I have just ordered one of these (Xmas 2006) and there seems to be a wait. I need a headset to complete a course I’m taking on ‘innovations in educational technology’.
The fact that I need them for a course is indicative of the way things are going. I will now be asking my students to consider making podcasts. These may be discussions about particular directors or reviews of films.
I’ve owned a set of hi-fi Beyer headphones in the past and I loved the quality. They were over £40-00 at the end of the 1970s (a lot then). The MMX-1s are ordered via the internet – with packaging about £65-00. RRP in shops is a lot more. Loigitech make cheaper ones but inevitably quality will be compromised. ‘Good value’ isn’t always the cheapest!
I’m certainly expecting pretty decent quality although the microphone isn’t going to be great at this kind of price. What makes this particular headset very special is the fact that it has a
USB connection. This means that it can plug straight into the USB ports on my computer.
Something that will be interesting to experiment with is linking three or 4 of these to a computer via a powered USB Hub. In theory at least it should be possible to hold a conversation, interview or record a play very cheaply. Whilst the sound quality is unlikely to be great it is a good way of starting to familiarise yourself with the technology. clearly there would need to be plenty of post production editing but for educational purposes this new type of equipment maximises what individual or mainstream institutions will already have.
Rode is an Australian electronics firm with a good range of microphones and a good reputation. Making a move from the headset to a proper microphone plus a set of headphones which eliminate outside sound is the next big step.
Rode have just introduced a microphone aimed specifically at podcasters. In the UK it appears to be retailing at around £150 on the internet. This is another piece of equipment which has a USB connection straight into your computer. This avoids having microphone preamps and things like that. Another advantage is that it has an high quality (XLR) socket on the side of the microphone body to which you can attach your headphones.
As you can see from the images above you can get going with a very straightforward set of equipment. Listening to the Rode broadcast on their marketing site with a professional broadcaster using the microphone shows that this mike delivers very good quality sound. (Listened to on my computer through a set of Sennheiser £30-00 headphones for iPods).
As an aside one shouldn’t get too hung up about superlative quality. The whole point of iPods is that they are listened to in mobile situations quite frequently and the MP3 file format is a compressed sound so is by its very nature of limited quality. A good voice microphone should nevertheless impart a warm natural quality to the voice. Institutions such as the BBC Radio 3 renowned for their quality will be using very expensive Neumann microphones for example, but aiming for the highest possible sound quality isn’t the point here. It should be natural, comfortable to listen to, and distortion free otherwise people won’t bother listening.
A quick scan of the blogs on podcasting it isn’t registering much yet however it looks set to become very popular.
Here is a link to the Rode posdcaster marketing. There is a well known Australian broadcaster giving some sound advice (gerrit) on how to use microphones effectively. This is well worth watching and listening to even if you decide not to go for this product.
Choosing microphones requires a little time to think about what sort of applications you want it for. It you are going to want to recors a range of different activities in a wide rangfe internal an external conditions you will probably end up with a collection of them.
Here is a link to Sound on Sound Magazine guide to microphones.
Here is link to the Audio Technica guide to microphones which gives you some useful ideas.
Here is a link to a microphone terms glossary from MixGuides keep it open when you are browsing through products with lots of teccie terms.
December 16, 2006
Links for Podcasting Equipment and Associated Advice
Please note that this site takes no responsbility for any of the advice given on any of the blogs which are connected here. It is strongly suggested that you use all normal caution when proceeding with advice from any one blog and double check.
There is a similar warning with equipment. In independent research I have read that the latest Marantz digital recorder is very good. I am aware that the educational users from one large well established leading intitution were going to upgrade their current recorders to Marantz ones although they cost twice as much as the ones currently being used.
My understanding is that the quality of recording and ease of use makes them far more productive and the build quality makes them far more rugged and reliable in the field. This would suggest that educational institutions or media companies would do well to use the Marantz straight away as it is likely to save money over the longer term. (I have just discovered a very detailed review of the Marantz).
At the time of writing (December 2006) this is appears to be the benchmark recorder to measure other ones against including Marantz’s own more expensive ones.There are a number of blogs below which review this machine and compare it with alternatives. Any final analysis needs to consider how often the machines will be used and under what conditions being wieghed agaianst the available budget.
For individuals there are a range of MP3 players out there which can do recording. If you are on a limited personal budget one of these may be the most sensible place to start. this is not least because it is worth you gaining experience before committing yourself to a big outlay.
The old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ is usually a good rule of thumb. I usually find with most products that the mid market level is the bst place to start. You usually get very disatisfied with the limitations of the cheapest equipment whilst the most expensive often has little used bells and whistles on which may be useful for full-time professionals but for the average user provides little benefit for the extra cost. when it comes to practical media equipment build quality and reliability are worth more than extra tweaks.
The equipment sites and blogs were collected at the beginning of December. As web 2 is very dynamic this is by no means a comprehensive list but provides you with a portal into the world of podcasting. Now enjoy yourselves :-)
Various Equipment Sites and Blogs
Please note there is no order of priority here it was just how I followed up the searches adding links along the way. Some are blogs and some are equipment suppliers.
Robert Toole’s comment below alerted me to this supplier: Solid State Sound. This is a useful supplier as the items are annoted in a non-tech comprehensible way with clear advice where one item might be more appropriate than another. The link takes you to the edible looking Nagra Recorder. More budget ones are in the sidebar. (Please note this comment should not be taken as a recommendation of either product or supplier).
Podcast Audio Equipment « Jeffrey Daniel Frey’s
Podcasting Equipment Collected
Creating a Podcast > Equipment
Home: K&M – König & Meyer GmbH & Co.KG
Microphone Stands: K&M – König & Meyer GmbH & Co.KG
Podcast Bunker.com – We only list the very best podcasts
MIXERS / POWERED MIXERS – UB SERIES MIXERS – EURORACK UB802 : Ultra Low-Noise Design 8-Input 2-Bus Mixer with Premium Mic Preamplifiers
Podcasting Equipment – PodcastBlaster.com
It’s time to listen to the internet | PodcastVoices.com
Podcasting Equipment – drupal
Portable Recording Equipment for Your Audio Podcast « Jeffrey Daniel Frey’s Bloghttp://jdfrey.wordpress.com/2006/12/05/podcasting-offers-new-avenue-for-reaching-students-alumni/
Podcasting Offers New Avenue for Reaching Students, Alumni « Jeffrey Daniel Frey’s Bloghttp://www.rolandus.com/products/productdetails.aspx?ObjectId=757&ParentId=114
Roland U.S. – R-09: WAVE/MP3 Recorder
Successful Podcasting in Education at the University Level « Jeffrey Daniel Frey’s Bloghttp://www.thewhyandhowofpodcasting.com/
thewhyandhowofpodcasting.com – information on thewhyandhowofpodcasting.com
MediaWiki – MediaWiki
John Bristowe’s Weblog : The Podcasting Equipment Has Arrived…
Ed-Tech Insider: Podcasting equipment roundup
November 30, 2006
Podcasting: Useful informational sources mainly from the BBC
Podcasting is becoming an increasingly important New Media Technology. Below are some useful links relating to new media including podcasting. There is another page which provides practical links to equipment and blogs about how to do it yourself. Some links are also in the sidebat to this blog in the New Media Technologies Section.
Useful Starter Links
Here is the BBC press office release announcing their recent podcasting trial.
Another foray into the world of new media from the BBC is the BBC Radio Player which allows a live online feed and older programmes to be accessed from a personal computer.
Really Simple Syndication or RSS Feeds.
BBC Pods & Blogs also introduces the concept of Citizen Media
BBC Click Online Videos. This page links to a large number of downloadable videos
What is High Definition TV (HDTV)?
Video on Demand. European opportunities & threats.
November 21, 2006
What is Podcasting?
Podcasting is yet another digital technology which has erupted on the scene and which is so hard for adults to keep up with in the ‘digital deluge’. Podcasting is only a couple of years old at the time of writing but it is rapidly developing into an important part of ‘new media’.
In essence the Podcast is the equivalent of being able to take a radio programme around on a tape and listen to it on your personal stereo (Walkman). It is in a computer file format which can be played on many different devices.
How to listen
Increasingly you will be able to play them on your car sound system, your sound system at home including portable digital radios as well as on iPod or MP3 players and also mobile phones which can store the MP3 file format. You can also play them on your laptop computer. With a set of headphones it is possible to lsiten and work on the train for example.
The iPod or MP3 player are the normal way of listening to these. These devices are becoming cheaper and more sophisticated all the time with many mobile phones having the facility to download and play MP3 sound files. The latest of these devices are able to store the content of dozens of CDs with hard drive memories larger than the average household computer of a few years ago.
The file format thus allows for what are sometimes described in media terms as place-shifting and time-shifting. Or ‘when you want it, how you want it, where you want it’ in plain English.
How do you get Podcasts?
Its all very well talking about them – and I’m writing this pretty much as I learn- but its another thing getting all the technology sorted out and wondering if it will all work together and then will it really be worth it when you’ve done all this when reading a good book in the garden might be more pleauarable.
I think the answer is yes or this article wouldn’t be here. The first thing is that you will neeed the correct software loaded onto your computer. The best software to use is “iTunes” from the Apple website. This also comes with the latest version of “Quicktime” which you will be able to download at the same time. The process is quite painless and you will end up with a couple of nice little extra icons on your desktop.
For cinema a good place to go to start the process is the Moviemail podcasts page
The site gives some explanation of podcasts and also gives you some options. You can listen to a choice of podcasts without actually keeping them or else you can follow the link which says ‘subscribe via iTunes’. This will take you to the Apple site. (It is a busy site and sometimes seems to get stuck as it did with me when writing this. Just go back later if this happens). once you are into the site followthe instructions for getting iTunes / Quicktime. You can then ‘subscribe’ to the Moviemail podcast lists. You will see a list of what is available and you can choose which ones to download. there is a button to click saying get this (or something like that I can’t check at the moment). The software gives you one of those annoying lists saying “customers who subscribed to this also ….” . Well actually it was quite useful as it took me to some useful podcasts from the Guardian and the Times / BFI London Film Festival.
Now the files are in your computer and can be downloded to other devices in the usual ways.
When I find more useful podcasts I will stick in links to the Podcastography (or whatever these lists are going to get called eventually).
Future usage on my courses
For the current Open Studies course on “Weimar and Nazi Cinema” I don’t expect us to be making our own podcasts but this is going to be increasingly possible as better recording equipment becomes cheaper.
If you are reading this as an A level media student I’m currently thinking
about converging podcast making into the coursework of making websites and radio. Rather than radio ‘broadcasts’ being made available for two weeks on a limited licence podcasts will be availbale on the network.
The great cultural critic Raymond Williams once described the Walkman as ‘mobile privatisation’, however this is a pessimistic view which doesn’t allow for the possibilities of being in communication in a different mental space form the physical space. This form of communication can be at any intellectual level. In reality people on tubes and trains can be remarkably private and locked into their own thoughts without any technology. one always needs to ask the question whther there is some sort of nostalgia present for a ‘golden age ’ of interpersonal communication based on ‘community’ which never quite existed in reality.
What is on the Way?
This weekend (Nov 18 / 06) The Financial Times ‘How to Spend it’ (Wish I had their problems :-) ) on the gadgets for Xmas page announced the world’s first digitally recording microphone mentioning that it will be good for podcasters. – It happens to be British – expect that some sort of device like this will be on all up-market mobile ‘phones’ (Multi communication devices might be a beter name) in about 18 months and in three years time they will be common. Anyway it’s called FlashMic
The point is that we will all reasonably soon be able to use a digital recording device in a commonly used file format and put it onto the web.
This means that there are good educational uses developing as well as the possibility of narrowscasting acoss the world.
A more reasonably priced but obviously bulkier item is the Marantz flash memory digital recorder. This means that you can record whatever on the same cards which you will be using for a digital camera. There is a customer review on there as well.
New Educational Paradigms?
From the perspective of education it is likely to be very useful in recording small group discussions in workshops and seminars. It will be useful in interviewing people and it will also be useful in recording research projects such as focus groups and semi-structured interviews.
The actual recordings can be used in a variety of different ways and for different target audiences. Already some university lecturers are making their lectures available as podcasts (Check this link). This means that peole can listen or re-listen to the lecture at their convenience. It may even mean that lectures become more infrequent to be replaced by other formes of delivery and learning techniques.
Supervisors and tutors will be able to listen to the focus group dicusssions and evaluate them, or else listen to small group discussions and give appropriate feedback. Furthermore all the small group discussions could be collected and a greater range of ideas made available to all course participants.
Furthermore all participants will be able to access and download these discussions. This will encourage a far better system of peer group assessment combined with tutor input. If the podcast recordings of say five discussion groups are uploaded to webspace the following day, a typical student formative student task would be to generate feedback upon other discussions. These could be discussed at the next workshop and also uploaded to a forum either in text or as a podcast as well.
The job of a tutor will be to give the criteria expected in an evaluative podcast for example. The criteria could include evidence of listening to all the other podcasts, synthesising and summarising the arguments and making an evaluative judgemnt about these arguments. This could be done in the more traditional text format or else delivered as a podcast. Thus there is no reason why much of the student work and tutor assessment cannot become aural.
From an educational perspective this is developing a range of skills which are much used in quality radio for example but little recognised. Much of the debate within media and cultural studies focuses upon the visual versus the written text. The rise of the podcast could have quite far reaching implications. One big advantage underlying the potential of the podcast is its flexibility. The contents are easily listened to while travelling for example at times when reading and notetaking may awkward.
Other Useful Links on Podcasting
This is a link to Warwick Podcasts where a number of interviews with academics discuss a broad range of issues. These show what can be done.
This is a link to BBC Podcasts