Meaningful Meanderings

Chris Mark's Blogfolio

Podcasting as an e-Learning Tool March 4, 2010

Filed under: Podcasting,Teaching with Technology — Christine Mark @ 7:36 pm
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I read the Article entitled “Podcasting:  A Flexible E-Learning Tool” by Youmei Liu and Shawn McCombs from the book Collective Intelligence and e-Learning 2.0.  I found the article very interesting especially the discussion of the social trends and changes in lifestyle due to technology.

 While reading the article, I was thinking about future trends for podcasting technology.  I think this technology is going to continue although it may change a bit and become more enhanced.  The authors did a great job of pointing out how society has changed through technology with its effect on socialization and how much of it is done in on online format as opposed to face-to-face communication with others.  As the authors pointed out, you see people everywhere you go with iPods or MP3 players with ear buds in their ears.  I am hard pressed to believe these people are all listening to podcasts.  I do believe since they are already using these devices for listening to music, it would an easy transition for them to begin to listen to podcasts, although they would need to be taught how to subscribe and download podcasts.   I think podcasts will increase in popularity as the technology becomes more user-friendly for people to create podcasts.  They are a great learning tool for our students, especially those students that retain information better if they hear it rather then read it.  As the authors pointed out in their conclusion, that podcasting has overtaken radio, TV and the Internet as the quickest attainers of critical mass.  This is an incredible statistic that is going to keep growing.

 I think this article did help my understanding of podcasts and their value in education.  I especially found the section on best practices helpful and insightful.  I think the advice was very useful concerning providing clear instructions and to keep communicating with students.  Students need a tutorial as to how to subscribe to and download podcasts.  Instructors also need to keep checking with the students as to whether they are having any problems.  This should happen early in the semester as many students who become frustrated in the beginning give up and are unable to take advantage of this great resource.  I also found the information insightful on the length of a podcast.  At first I thought it would be best to have one full topic on one podcast.  This could run one hour.  It makes sense to keep it short as I think a student would be more willing to listen to something for 10 minutes.  If a subject is broken into sub topics or episodes I think it is much more manageable.


Creating a Podcast (It’s Not That Hard)

Filed under: Podcasting — Christine Mark @ 7:21 pm
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I made my first podcast this week and people can actually subscribe to it on iTunes!!!  As part of my PhD program I am taking a class called Seminar in Instructional Technology.  This is a class that explores Web 2.0 tools and their use in education.  As part of the class I was required to create a podcast that others could subscribe to on iTunes.  This was an interesting project as I had to use many other tools and types of technology to create the podcast and make sure it could be subscribed to by others. 

 The first thing I had to do was make a recording in MP3 format.  I used a free program called Audacity to create the audio file.  The first one I created was 26 minutes long.  All the research I have read states that this is way too long for a podcast.  I came to realize that my students would not listen to me ramble on for 26 minutes.  I rethought the project and made a second attempt.  This one was about 6 minutes long.  This was much better.  I used Audacity to take out the long pauses and few ums.  I found a piece of instrumental music and played it at the beginning with it fading as I began speaking.  I also played the music at the end.  I was actually surprised how good it sounded.  The next step was to upload it to my Web server.  This was quite easy for me as I took a class in Web design and I understand how the FTP program works.  I felt sorry for some of the students in my class who do not have this expertise as this could take a while to figure out.  I then used Podcast RSS Feed Generator to generate the html code needed for the podcast to be subscribed to.  The feed generator was very easy and once all the information was entered it generated the html code which I saved in a Notepad document.  I then uploaded this document to my Web server.  The name of this html file is what is entered to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.  I found this to be quite easy and I can see using it for my classes going forward.


Blogging and More Blogging

Filed under: Blogs and Education — Christine Mark @ 6:11 pm
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As a requirement for the class I am taking at The University of Southern Mississippi, Seminar in Instructional Technology, I created this blog using WordPress.  The blog was very easy to create and is free.  There were many templates available to choose from as far as the look and feel of the blog.  I believe that anyone with an interest in blogging can easily create an interesting and professional looking blog.  I have a great story that supports this point.  A few years ago my friends George and Sue were going on a three month long motorcycle vacation from Greenville, NC to North Dakota, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, the Gulf Coast, Florida and then back to North Carolina.  They wanted some way to document the trip so that the unlucky ones who could not go on a three month vacation could follow along.  George, a retired lineman from Long Island, NY, was not computer literate.  His wife, Sue only knew how to take digital pictures and download them to their computer.  They asked my husband for his suggestions as to what they could do.  My husband, in an afternoon, helped George set up his blog and design a great format.  Their motorcycle has a side car so they named the blog Snapshots from the Sidecar.  My husband taught George how to write the posts and attach their pictures.  We were not sure whether they would actually post their stories and pictures.  We were pleasantly surprised when at the end of every single day on the trip George wrote an account of all their adventures that day and attached any interesting pictures they took.  Friends and relatives made comments to their posts and they established quite a following.  I think this proves that blogging is easy and appeals to a vast number of people.  

As far as its use in education, I think blogging is quite valuable.  If students in grade school start blogging and get excited about it, it can only improve their writing skills.  Any practice writing is a good thing and combined with video or audio it allows students to be creative and learn about multimedia.  The possibilities are endless.  Since I started this blog for my class I am thinking about and designing a professional blog for use with my classes and a personal blog to record my experiences as a female motorcycle rider.  I think blogging is a great tool and definitely here to stay!!!