Meaningful Meanderings

Chris Mark's Blogfolio

Showbeyond and Beyond… November 26, 2010

Showbeyond is a multimedia slidecast creator and a way of sharing stories with others.  ShowBeyond was started by two friends who wanted to provide a way for people to create and share stories.  With Showbeyond, it is easy to grab images, and then add sound and text to create multimedia stories. Then you can share your stories with friends or post to blogs and social networking sites. 

The program was very easy to use.  First a user has to create an account.  Once an account has been created the user can upload up to twenty four images to use to create a slidecast.  Text can be added to the images to tell the story and then a soundtrack can be added.  For my Showbeyond I used pictures I took in January, 2006 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  I went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to work at Tulane University. While in New Orleans I had the opportunity to tour the many neighborhoods which were devastated by Katrina.  I will never forget how it felt standing there.  It was actually quite surreal.   ShowBeyond was such a great way for me to showcase these photos and tell my story about coming to New Orleans after Katrina.  I added a soundtrack to my Showbeyond, which was Aaron Neville signing Louisiana 1927, an awesome song that goes along with the photos so well.  Click below to view my Showbeyond, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, January 2006:

view?sid=42eafe6907280d626399bce6704c2f9f

 

Showbeyond can also be used to do podcasting with slides, use of photos from online photo sharing sites, change the duration of each slide, and share stories either publicly or privately.  This is a great, flexible software package that is very easy to learn and use.  The implications for learning and teaching are immense.  There are many examples of how teachers, especially in the lower grades are using this as a way for students to write stories or give information about places, historical events, etc.  I think it would fun for the students to see their work online and be able to invite their family and friends to view it as well.  The only drawback I could see is that each Showbeyond is limited to twenty four images.  For longer presentations you could use more than one Showbeyond and have part 1, part 2, etc.  I can see using it for teaching in the same manner I would use a PowerPoint.  This would especially be a good tool for an online class.

 

Audacity – a Great Audio Creation and Editing Tool November 25, 2010

Filed under: Blogs and Education,Podcasting,Teaching with Technology,Web 2.0 — Christine Mark @ 9:44 pm
Tags: ,

Audacity is a free Web 2.0 tool that is a great audio editor and can be used with Windows, Mac or Linux platforms. According to the Audacity website, Audacity can be used to record live audio, convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs, Edit various formats of sound files, cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together, change the speed or pitch of a recording and much more.

The goal of this activity was to use Audacity to create an instructional, promotional, commercial or video audio. At least 3 audio clips needed to be joined and mixed together. I choose to record a lesson for my Management 364 class, Human Resource Management on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the impact on organizations. I choose this because it is a topic I am currently discussing and I thought I could make it available to students on my website. I added a track with music at the beginning and ending of my audio. Click on the link below to hear my recording:

ChristineMarkAssign3.mp3

I think Audacity is a great tool with many uses for teaching and learning. In looking through some education blogs I found some interesting ways to integrate Audacity into classroom activities. Students can make an audio/radio advertisement that can be part of a marketing project. Audacity can also be used to promote speaking a foreign language. It can also be used to create podcasts, record speeches, facilitate reading development by having students record their reading out loud. It can be used to record audio for PowerPoint slides in addition to many other uses.

Audacity was very easy to use and was quite intuitive. I found it to be a very powerful tool for creating audio and doing a variety of audio editing tasks. Compared to many other recording applications, the real beauty of Audacity is its slate of processing tools that allow one to add effects, reduce noise, and control the actual sound of the final project. For my project I used the noise reduction feature. To begin with I recorded about 5-10 seconds of ambient noise before beginning my audio recording. After my recording was complete I then used the first few seconds with the noise reduction tool to remove this noise from the entire recording with a few simple highlighting steps. The resulting recording was much quieter and more professional.

Another feature that was appreciated was the direct to MP3 saving ability in Audacity. Several other recorders I have used a good at producing WAV files, but MP3 files have more data and produce a better quality audio sound. Although installing the LAME encoder is somewhat clunky, the end result was worth the effort.

 

Podcasting as an e-Learning Tool March 4, 2010

Filed under: Podcasting,Teaching with Technology — Christine Mark @ 7:36 pm
Tags: ,

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
Tags: , , ,

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.