This is a video I posted to my online classes just as an introduction of myself. I’m somewhat shocked at myself for doing it. I’m shocked at myself for posting it here. It makes me want to throw up to think of putting myself in front of the camera and then posting it publicly.
I’m doing it anyway just to make a point to myself (and others if they are so inclined). Video is the thing. Video is easy to make and share now in online classes. That’s probably where I and others should be headed with lecture materials.
This video was made using a computer with a built-in web cam (purchased for faculty dev. projects thanks to the generous support of the Mississippi Arts Commission).
I just went to YouTube, logged into my account, hit Upload Video, and when it gave me a prompt to choose a file or record from web cam, I selected record from web cam. That’s all there is to that. YouTube walks you through the rest.
To share in Blackboard 9.1, you can put it in a content area by going to Build Content. From there you choose YouTube video under Mashups. Just copy and paste the url of your video into the search box, and hit go. It will pull up your video. Hit select. If you want the video to embed, change the little menu box that defaults to thumbnail over to embed. Hit submit. That’s it. You are video lecturing to your online classes.
Because this was just an introduction and not a lecture per se, I shared it on the discussion board instead. I just created a thread and clicked on the Mashup icon in the visual editor. The steps from there are the same as in a content area. Search. Select. Embed. Submit.
This is really very easy. The biggest hurdle is the emotional one over putting your face and not just your words on TV.
Blackboard now offers easy ways to integrate YouTube videos into course sites, and that’s a good thing. Lots of valuable academic information is posted to YouTube, and YouTube is a good place for teachers to upload their own class lectures and materials, or for students to upload their class projects.
It’s not the only place to find useful videos for the classroom, though. Try a few of these sites as well.
Great talk on “how photography connects us” from David Griffin and TED. I watched it for the first time a few days ago, and I’ve been thinking about what this all means for the teaching of visual literacy in classes like college writing where the focus isn’t necessarily in the visual arts.
One thing Griffin says that stands out to me is that great photojournalists know how to create a narrative.
That’s true of great communicators in any medium. We want students to synthesize information and make meaning out of it.
I’ve heard a lot of good arguments for having writing students do photo projects, but the idea that photography is narrative is among the best.
We talk about visual rhetoric so often in the negative. We talk about how we’re bombarded with visual stimuli in our digital lives, about how visuals so often are attempting to manipulate us. That they are. But this isn’t always bad. Visuals help us to understand so much of the world around us.
The point I think is that our lives are saturated with images and that those images are shaping meaning as we know it. If we want to be part of that conversation, if we want to contribute our own way of seeing and thinking, we have to respond in kind–with images. We have to know how to make narratives out of images.
And so, while I do appreciate visual analysis assignments in which students find images created by other people and write about how those images convey meaning, how they manipulate emotions and opinions, I’m even more interested right now in visual creations, in the writer as the image maker.
Writers have always been concerned with how to create pictures with words. It’s another kind of communication to create meaning with a combination of words of pictures. This is the kind of communication that influences us in the most profound ways, yet we have to think up ways to justify teaching it in writing classes.
Photography helps us to freeze the moments of our own understand of the world around us for further study. It gives us time to reflect on a scene without losing that scene in our minds. Time spent reflecting is one of the primary ways that we retain information and deepen understanding.
Put a camera in the writer’s hands. Through it and the close observations it affords, powerful narratives are born.
The traditional definition of podcasting, in so much as something that has existed for less than a decade can have traditions, is that is a “broadcast for the iPod.” As such, it is an audio show with recurring episodes that people can subscribe to in iTunes.
I don’t care about how recurring your episodes are. If you want to make a handful of class lecture recordings, post them into Blackboard, and not worry about how they are broadcast as long as your students can listen to them, that’s okay. I won’t be the one to report you to the geek police for calling something a podcast that doesn’t have subscription feeds.
I will, however, tell you easy ways to set up those feeds, but first we have to talk about how to make the recording.
To start, you need one of two things–a recording device or a computer with recording software.
You could purchase a voice recorder. They range from cheap to ridiculous in price, and you do get what you pay for. The cheapest ones yield the poorest sound quality. If you want something portable that you can carry into the classroom with you or allow students to use for projects, and if you don’t mind spending a little bit, try the Zoom H2. This is a mid-level device. Not the best, not the worst. Not the most expensive, not the least. You will get recordings from it that are every bit as good as you need to share online, though.
As an alternative, you could use the voice recorder on a gadget already in hand. The iPhone and the iPod Nano both come with a voice memo feature that can be used to make audio recordings. Those recordings can be copied into iTunes and from there converted to mp3s and uploaded to the podcasting site of your choice.
If portability isn’t a concern, you’ll be better off to record your podcasts on your computer. Assuming you already own a computer, this is the cheap and easy way. PC users can download the free program Audacity to use as a voice recorder and editor.
Download and install the software from the Sourceforge site, and then watch this tutorial:
An essential ingredient in the making of a podcast is the microphone. If you are on a Mac, you very likely have a built in microphone. Check that first, and use it if you have it. Some versions of PCs also come with built in mics now, but they aren’t standard in PCs like they are in Macs. You’ll need an external mic if you don’t have an internal.
The best kind for podcasting (unless you want to spend a lot more money) is a simple headset mic, the kind people use for Internet gaming and chatting. They start at around $30 or so, and the $30 versions will do just fine.
Exporting to MP3
MP3is the file format of choice for sharing audio online. It represents a compromise between the highest quality audio and easiest file size for sharing. Other file formats might retain more sound quality, but they would take too long to upload and download online. Thus, whatever format you’ve recorded in, you should always convert to mp3 before uploading.
If you’ve used Audacity or GarageBand, this is a simple matter of finding the export feature and selecting mp3 as your file format (look under Share in GarageBand and under File in Audacity).
If you’ve used a voice recording device, you may need to pull your file into a program to convert it. Audacity will work for that. So will iTunes. iTunes will also help you organize your library of audio files.
If you are in iTunes and logged into your account, you should be able to click on an audio file, go to Advanced and Create MP3 version in order to convert it. That will give you a file that is ready to publish online.
Storing Files Online
The biggest challenge to setting up a new podcast is probably finding a viable place to store your audio files online. You can set up a podcast feed on Blogger, but you can’t store your audio files in Blogger. They have to be hosted somewhere else. Blogger does not currently accept uploaded audio files.
If you plan to start a regular podcast with lots of episodes, you’re probably going to end up paying for file hosting. Though there are some free podcasting sites, they tend to come and go. We just don’t have the audio equivalent of YouTube or Flickr at this time.
If you just want to post a few recordings here and there, however, you do have some free options.
This “Sample Poetry Podcast” is an mp3 recording of one of my poems. It was recorded in GarageBand and converted to MP3. From there, it was uploaded to www.dropbox.com. At DropBox, I moved the file into my public folder, which gave me a link to share with others. I embedded that link here, and this is the result:
This is what happens when I use the embed code from DivShare to post the same file:
These are just a couple of options. You may need to do further research on your own to find what works for you. But this will get you started.
If that sounds too complicated, set up a Posterous blog. Posterous allows you to email audio files as attachments to be posted on your blog. It doesn’t require that they are hosted elsewhere. It will also format them for you into a Flash-based audio player. You don’t have unlimited space available for free on Posterous, but you have enough to keep you going for some time as long as your recordings are not too lengthy or too frequent.
Thedefinition of broadcasting in the social media age is loose at best. If you upload a single file to a site like DivShare and then post the link to that file on Facebook, you have broadcasted it to your friends. Let’s assume, though, that in this case we mean making your audio files available by subscription in iTunes.
The simple solution to that is to blog your podcasts. Most blogging platforms are set up with automatic feeds that can be opened and subscribed to in iTunes.
Here’s a video to help you understand how to use a blog to podcast:
On most blogs, if you find your rss feed, and type in “itpc” in place of the “http” that will give you an audio feed that will open in iTunes where you can then subscribe to it.
Again, if any of this sounds complicated in the least, start with Posterous.com. There’s nothing complicated about podcasting with Posterous. You record your mp3s and email them to your blog. To subscribe in iTunes, you use the “itpc” address for the rss feed.
For example, I have a Posterous blog at http://sharongerald.posterous.com. If I wanted to download the audio files from that blog in iTunes and then sync them to my iPod, I’d go to itpc://sharongerald.posterous.com/rss.
That’s all it takes. Really. Anyone can do this. All you need is something to say.
Scribd is a social sharing tool that allows you to upload documents to share. It’s a great way to push assignments out to students because they can download documents from Scribd in a variety of formats, including those used by mobile devices.
If you use Blackboard, and you want to upload your class notes to Scribd and then share them in Blackboard, all you need to do is to copy the embed code from Scribd and paste it into your Blackboard course. Don’t forget to toggle your editor over to html mode first, or you’ll just get a bunch of jibberish.
Otherwise, your embedded content from Scribd something like this:
Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.
There has always been a computer in the Oval Office.
Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.
There has always been a Planet Hollywood.
Salsa has always outsold ketchup.
These lists are always funny and disconcerting. Sometimes they are downright shocking. It’s important to stop and think where our students are coming from, though, especially when designing course materials.
Three-quarters have created a profile on a social networking site. One-in-five have posted a video of themselves online.
They are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults. They’re less religious, less likely to have served in the military, and are on track to become the most educated generation in American history.
Be sure to take the quiz, “How Millennial Are You?“ This places me, amazingly enough, right where I actually fall age-wise on their scale, as a Gen Xer.
Plenty has been said and plenty has been studied about working with the Milliennial generation, but for a quick intro, consider this clip from 60 Minutes.
And so it boils down to “lifestyle matters more than anything else.” What does that mean for the classroom?