KSC Instructional Technology

9.18.2006

The What, Why, and How of Podcasting

Coming up: The What, Why, and How of Podcasting; with Larry Welkowitz

Date: Thursday, October 5

Time: 12:30 – 1:30

Place: ESEC Lab, Rhodes 163


Free software, also known as freeware, isn’t limited to screen savers or kitschy cursors. There is a large market for software applications that allow the user to do something productive, such as create and edit audio files (Audacity).

Audacity is an exciting piece of software, even if you’re not an audiophile. It provides educators with a new way to reach students through something most of them use every day; their computers.

“I think it’s a natural extension of what they’re already doing,” said Psychology Professor Larry Welkowitz.

He began creating audiocasts* – streaming audio files that are accessible online and can then be listened to via a computer – for his students so they could access his lectures and other teaching points outside of the classroom. Hardware necessary to create an audiocast is minimal; either an MP3 player with a record function, or a laptop and a headset with a microphone. Audacity, the software, can record, import, edit, and export audio files.

Examples of the type of audiocasts Welkowitz makes available for his students can be found at his blog: Asperger’s Conversations.

Having students listen to the audiocasts outside of class helps to free up classroom time for discussion, he said. More than that, the use of the audiocasts and blogs brings students fully into the 21st century and helps to make them global citizens. What students write in response to the lesson becomes more than a paper for the professor; the writing becomes a contribution to a larger community.

“I want my students at Keene State to become global players,” Welkowitz said.

Some students are initially reluctant to use the technology. But by the end of the course, most of them are at least comfortable with accessing the audiocasts and posting to the Blackboard discussion board. Mastering the technology helps to involve students in the type of field participation necessary to become a global citizen, he said.

And the technology is readily available to anyone who wants to use it.

Many students already own iPods, computers, or MP3 players that can easily be used to both create and listen to an audiocast. Another readily available technology is online blogs. Students who use the online services MySpace or Facebook can easily transfer the online skills they use in the social realm into something more academic. Free blog sites such as Blogger.com allow anyone to create a blog dedicated to a specific subject.

Faculty have to be creative in their use of resources when working at small schools, Welkowitz said. Free software helps to meet some of those resource needs; it just takes a little effort to find out what’s available and how to use it.


*Two terms used when talking about online audio files are audiocast and podcast. While the basic idea of each term is the same – an online sound-file that is broadcast through an Internet/intranet connection – there are subtle differences in how each type of cast is accessed.

Audiocasts are accessible as streaming media, which means that the file is stored on the host site and a person listens to it by clicking the available link and the file is played through their computer’s sound card and speakers.

Podcasts are accessible through subscribing to an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed, and a person needs to download the audio file to a player, either on their computer or a separate music/audio file player (iPod, iRiver), in order to listen to it.

2 Comments:

  • Larry, I'd love to attend this, but I teach on Thursdays at noon. Is there any way you could post/share/email any resources you share?

    By Blogger Lorianne, at 11:52 AM  

  • Lorianne:
    Just picked up your message. Sorry you can't make it, but perhaps I'll podcast it!
    Larry

    By Anonymous Larry Welkowitz, at 9:55 AM  

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