In addition to Digital Campus, there are two more podcasts from CHNM that I want to mention: Voices from the Storm (Episode 6) and History Conversations. In Voices from the Storm, Sheila Brennan and I read stories submitted to the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank and in Episode 6 we read two stories that deal with how Hurricanes Katrina and Rita affected the elderly in and around the Gulf Coast. History Conversations, a creation of Tom Scheinfeldt, is an occasional dialogue with historians and history lovers about their interests, their work, and about history in general. In Episode 1 Tom chats with Peter Liebhold from the National Museum of American History.
I have also started podcasting my classes. George Mason has signed onto the iTunesU program from Apple and is encouraging faculty to podcast their courses. To make it “easy” for faculty to do that, the University has purchased some very nice Marantz digital audio recorders and microphones. I don’t know how much the University paid for this set up, but I’m sure it was well over $500 per kit…for something so big that the faculty members using them have to be pinned to the podium. That just wasn’t going to work for me, because I wander too much when I teach.
So I went for the lower cost but just as good (it turns out) solution. I bought an iTalk plug-in for my iPod Nano and then added a MemoMic microphone that I clip on my collar. At the “low quality” setting on the iPod’s voice memo function, I got excellent sound quality. Oh, and my total investment, including the cost of the Nano is under $275 and it fits in my shirt pocket (I use Audacity to edit my sound files).
It seems to me that the University would have been better served by just buying several of these set ups, rather than the more expensive (and admittedly marginally better in terms of sound quality) Marantz recorders.
Here’s what I won’t be doing. I won’t be putting up sound files of the entire class. I polled my students and they admitted that if they could download podcasts of their courses (not mine, of course!), they would skip many more classes. It’s worth noting that the average GMU student works about 25 hours per week, so any way they can avoid attending class helps with their work schedules. Instead, I’ll be uploading highlights of the class–one 10-15 minute segment that I think is worth having on file to come back to. I’m hoping this won’t cut into attendance.
2 thoughts on “More Podcasting”
I hadn’t heard of the podcasting initiative at George Mason, and a search of the university’s website reveals no mention of Itunes U, the Marantz recorders, or anything else related to the pilot program. So once again I am amazed by the lack of communication between IT and teaching faculty. In this atmosphere, the only way to make progress in teaching with technology is to do what you’re doing: pioneer your own method. Am I wrong in thinking that there is much, much more the Instructional Research Center should do to increase its outreach beyond the early adopters?
I think you are absolutely right. My sense is the that the iTunesU program was designed to snare those already doing some podcasting, try it out, then expand to the general university community. I think there has to be much more real communication between the IT folks and the teaching faculty–not only on issues like this, but in such things as the planning of future teaching spaces, etc.
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