Ultraportable Podcasting

We have a number of new exciting podcasting initiatives in process. In one way, I feel like we are joining the podcasting party a year after everyone else, but in another way, this work didn’t seem quite this easy until now. It also takes time for anyone to warm up to actually using a new innovation in the classroom.

The first is podcast by phone, which I have written about before as a proof of concept. I first offered this to the upper school students and teachers as an open resource, but adoption has been slow. The middle school was the first to try it with a class activity. Twenty middle school students and three teachers take an annual trip to Costa Rica to perform service work and meet students at a peer school there. This year, one of the trip leaders is putting in a call to our podcast channel every few days. This has proven a great way to keep parents and the rest of the middle school body in the loop on the group’s progress in Costa Rica.

The other groundbreaker has been really small podcast recording devices. We have acquired a few Olympus audio recorders. They are really small, record in WMV format, and have built-in USB support, so you just connect one to a computer to copy audio files to your computer. The device controls are pretty easy to use to record, play back and file new recordings. Connect a small lapel mic to the recorder to avoid the device slipping inside the speaker’s sportcoat! We also got a higher-fidelity Edirol recording device, but the practicality of the tiny Olympus devices have made them the popular choice for spoken presentations. Try free Switch to batch convert WMV to MP3 files.

These two means of recording podcasts have practically removed the possibility of technology being the obstacle to successful podcasting. I have high hopes for continued success as we roll out additional ways to podcast: Moodle plug-ins, and the “old-fashioned” built in computer mic and Audacity!

4 comments

  1. Peter Zingg says:

    Richard:

    When you were shopping for these, did you find any that natively store .mp3 or .m4a that came close to the Olympus recorders?

    Do the students do the WMV to mp3 conversion, or do you have something like a folder action that can do it for you unattended?

  2. Ben Casnocha says:

    Fortunately you can draw on your KUHS experience.

  3. Alex Ragone says:

    Richard:

    Check out these links for some great pedagogical descriptions of creating podcasts:

    http://budtheteacher.typepa

    http://budtheteacher.typepa

    and

    http://budtheteacher.typepa

    Cheers,

    – Alex

  4. rkassissieh says:

    Interesting that a blog item on podcasting gets more comments than my other posts! What is it about publishing audio that excites people so?

    Peter, no I didn’t. My guess is that recording to WMV is less processor-intensive. I have seen other audio applications that choose WMV for capture and then provide options to convert into other formats. We haven’t done a student project with these recorders yet, but I imagine we would set up an easy-to-use app like Switch or a web-based converter and then teach the students to use it. Middle school teachers tend to stay pretty involved in media management at this point.

    Ben, you are absolutely correct. I couldn’t have done it without KUHS! ;^) Actually, you were before your time. If podcasting had been easier at the time, it would have been the obviously better choice than a streaming media server.

    Thanks, Alex! I will make these resources available to the teachers.