Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Campus Technology 2008, Day 2: Podcasting as Educational Inspiration at UConn

The first breakout session was presented by David Miller, a professor of Psychology at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Two main podcast series produced at UConn:

  1. Icube: Issues in Intro: General Psychology
  2. Animal Behavior

Many students coming into college not knowing what a podcast is, and the specific requirements to listen to a podcast. He said he has to tell his students they don’t have to buy a podcast. He said a whole ecosystem has grown around the iPod. There has been a real cultural shift in portable media from transistor radio to the iPod and iPhone. He shows off the accessories available for the iPod ranging from iBoxers to a toilet dispenser with an iPod docking station.

Why should we think about podcasting? he posed. It is a course enhancement with added depth and content beyond classroom discussions. It can also promote interaction between students and professors including student produced content. “It shrinks a large class,” he said. Some professors use podcasts to deliver content in order to free up classroom for other purposes. Lectures can be recorded to help out students who cannot attend class because of inclement weather or specific religious holidays.

Types of podcasts

  • Basic – audio only
  • Enhanced podcast includes
    • Audio
    • Images
    • Chapter stops

He said there are some students who refuse to use iTunes so to resolve that problem he also generates the podcast as a .mov. He then looked at the use of podcasts to present lectures. He said many fear that using podcasting to present lectures will cut into notetaking. He said  that if you do course cast you could use class time for examples/applications, demonstrations, videos, clicker interactivity, and student presentation.

He said his podcasts for reflection and expansion on in-classroom lectures, to clarify comments, to generate interaction by recording student/professor lectures. For ICube there are three components

  • Weekly discussions with students
  • Precasts – previews of what is going to occur in the next class – main points to look for in the next lecture. They stay up the entire semester. Since I don’t coursecast, people who miss a class know what the main points were and can look for them in a classmates’ notes.
  • Postcasts – If he does not feel that he was clear about a topic in the class he can reiterate the important points from the lecture. These are not planned.

Based on evaluations, 41% of his students would listen to the weekly discussions and over 50% for the precasts. The precasts were extremely popular. He also found, and he said he couldn’t figure out why, his podcasts are listened to internationally.

His second podcast is for his animal behaviors class. He has a number of Honors students. The Honors students get Honors credit for participating in the discussion podcasts.

He also podcasts Review sessions before tests. Open only to Introductory Psychology class. He gives two midterms and a final and he holds review sessions that he records. The sessions are used to clarify and amplify lectures, and he thought it would be great to podcast the sessions. He also uses special podcasts to acknowledge highly successful students and asks them to explain what special skills or tools they use to succeed in the class.

Other uses outside the classroom

  • Student interviews about freshmen impressions of his/her experience at UConn as well as seniors about to graduate. They are asked about their experiences.
  • Freshman orientation: The orientation describes the differences between high school and university academic requirements.

How to podcast

  1. Record using a USB microphone and a mixer hooked to a computer, he is his own audio engineer.
  2. Editing software for post production
  3. Upload to site such as libsync (liberated syndication)
  4. Generate RSS feed

Audio Capture advice

  1. Decide whether to capture in stereo or mono – he recommends recording in Stereo
  2. Adjust the gain to proper level
  3. Have a theme song or identifier, he is in a rock band "Off Yer Rockers" as lead singer and rhythm guitar so he recorded his own music.
  4. Introduce each episode
  5. "Animate" your voice; exaggerate
  6. Use students' first names only
  7. Avoid distracting noises
  8. No background music
  9. For enhanced podcasts be mindful of copyright

Audio Editing Advice

  1. Edit out silence and speech fillters
  2. Mono can be a smaller file, but stereo provides quality
  3. Adjust levels either in your audio editing software or with The Levelator freeware that does it for you .
  4. Podcasting for Dummies

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