Sunday, October 18, 2009

Podcasting Tool

1. Reflections on the process of learning about the tool
I have been hearing about podcasts for quite a while now and have listened to some podcasts on my computer, but my relationship with podcasts has really been distant. Like a spectator at a football match I have watched the ‘game’ of podcasts, but this week I came off the sidelines and became a player on the field.

These days I have really been going in fast forward motion. We spoke about information overload recently and how students engage in surface reading when there is much information to be processed. I read Richardson’s text on Podcasting about 2-3 weeks ago, trying to be one step ahead, and highlighted the process involved in doing a podcast. However, when I started creating the podcast, I went through the trail-fire and then went straight to Youtube and searched on ‘creating podcasts’. I found some tutorials called “Podcasting 101 By: Black Light in the Attic Podcast” and followed the steps in downloading Audacity (to create the podcast) and the Levelator (to equalize the podcast created). It was great using Audacity for the most part.

The one glitch that I encountered was trying to record a podcast from my micro-phone at first; the default was set to stereo and all that I was doing was recording music files already on my computer. I then went to the help section and discovered what the problem was and how it was to be remedied. It was after doing all this and successfully creating a MP3 file that I went online and read a question that one of my classmates had on using Audacity that I went back to the textbook and saw all the information that I had highlighted on creating Podcasts. I think my mind was just racing too fast for my own good.

Once again I went back to Youtube and found a tutorial called “How To upload Mp3 On Your Blogger Or Wordpress Step By Step” where there was detailed instruction to use DIVSHARE. DIVSHARE was pretty easy to use, I just logged on using a yahoo email address, and then accepted the confirmation email and right away I was able to upload the file and play it.
I wasn’t able to embed the podcast how I wanted to. I wanted to put it in between the text (this text), but I got an error when I pasted the html code in the editor and tried saving it. So I added it twice to my blog, both as a gadget and with a web link.

Ok....I've figured it out two days after my original post - after reading Lando Blogrissian :) . It's now embedded

2. Discussion of the tool in terms of my own personal learning
It was a different experience using this tool. I have always been told by my family and friends that I talk pretty fast, but now I heard it for myself. The first podcast that I created was way too fast, so I did a second one and tried to slow it down. Although it wasn’t recorded as slow as I wanted, it was better than the first.

As a learner, I have some hang-ups about the final product of a podcasts. I remember listening to the first podcast that was done introducing us to this course EDES501. I heard a cough two times in the recording and I thought to myself... ‘Ew, that recording should have been edited and that part removed.’ But then later on the same week I was watching a video on Youtube where a professor was doing a talk on ‘Open courseware’ and heard him cough while doing the presentation. The same editing thought came to me again, but with an additional thought. When persons are doing live presentations, all that they can do is apologize for the disruption and then continue. Maybe leaving little ‘uhms’ and ‘ahs’ while creating the podcasts will add to the authenticity of the process. After all, the editing process can become so time consuming in and of itself - a couple podcasts could be created in the time it takes edit one podcast and have it picture perfect.

As part of a social group, it really doesn’t matter quite as much. If its music then I just want live streaming, apart from that maybe I would just be interested in getting news feed. I feel that disconnect with this topic as I do not have an I-pod to get the real feel of having a feed updated on it daily and listening to it ‘on the go’. It can be quite relaxing to have music that you want to listen to within your reach, especially when you are travelling long distances.

3. Discussion of the tool in terms of teaching and learning
Compared to most of the new technologies that have been introduced in recent times, podcast seems to be the closest one that mimics a typical lecture. It would be interesting to do a study on the satisfaction level of educators who use podcast to deliver lectures as opposed to other (more interactive) tools. Podcast is less interactive, more didactic and may require little or no interaction with the students (depending how it is recorded).

Separate and apart from that podcast is very handy for adult education. As I had mentioned some time ago adult learners are usually self directed and prefer going at their own pace. Roy & Roy(2007) attributes the following to using podcasts in and adult education environment:
1. It facilitates self-paced learning and allows a restructuring of the use of class-time.
2. Allows for the remediation of adults who may be slow learners
3. Learners can listen and multi-task.

Class time can be used differently if students are able to listen to podcasts before class. It’s like reading a text before coming to class – thus allocating more time to discuss what was learned and clarify any topic that was unclear. In this respect, podcasts can allow for better use of class-time.

The way in which podcasts can be played over and over again, would really serve to help remedial learners to grasp concepts better. Slower learners who might have missed a concept in class would be able to grapple with the recordings and internalize what was being said during the lectures.

Of these three advantages, I hold the third one dear to my heart. Just last week I was becoming overwhelmed with the numerous journals that I needed to get through while doing my chores at home. So I downloaded DSpeech which converts text to voice to listen to all those journals while doing other things.....other than the getting used to the automated voice and pronunciations, it has worked wonders. It would be so awesome if all books were available in podcast format.

Podcast, however, is not appropriate for all courses. The nature of the course is a good indicator as to whether or not a podcast should be employed. Roy & Roy (2007) tells of the challenges of using podcasts to ‘teach learners how to do something’, and for ‘recording group sessions’. It can be very confusing listening to a group discussion via podcast, as learners would be forced to identify who is saying what and follow the line of conversation for an extended period of time.

Flanagan & Calandra (2005) sees great potential in using podcasts based on its cost-effectiveness in delivering instruction, its natural integration with voice-dependent courses (e.g. music and foreign language) and the inexpensive and quick way students can communicate with peers all over the world. While this may be true for some learners, the reality may be different for learners who are on the receiving end of the digital divide. Podcast, may however be the most inexpensive teaching tool that can be used in usher developing countries in the digital classroom.

Flanagan, B. & Calandra, B. (2005). Podcasting in the classroom. International Society for Technology in Education.
Roy, A. & Roy, P. (2007). Intersection of training and podcasting in adult education. Australian Journal of Adult Learning. 47(3).