143 posts categorized "Podcasting"

January 10, 2008

A little bit of audio blogging... from a broken voice

Gosh, it's been a long week... and it's only Thursday. I was working with some great teachers at BETT yesterday and in Oxford this morning, learning about podcasting, Myst and digital photography. But, oh, my poor voice.

November 29, 2007

Education Unbound Unwound: Lessons for educational publishers in a social media world

Textbooks The problem for publishers is this: they're one of the few industries who don't sell to the people who use their products. Ultimately, though, they need to keep making money, so let's see how the current model is working for them in the long term.

They sell to the middlemen (teachers), who then have to sell it to the customer (the student). The customers' feedback ("this is boring") merely makes the middleman feel even less motivated to spend any more time on the unit of work as necessary. The feedback stops with the middleman, there being no standardised feedback mechanism that is part and parcel of the purchasing-resell experience. If the middleman has the motivation, the original product merely serves to give more work to the middleman to create an alternative product that suits the customer's needs (resource-creation around the textbook course).

If this really were a business in any other product, I think I'd be calling in the administrators soon.

That was the feeling I had on Tuesday night after debating as one of four on a panel on what impact social media was having on education, what impact it could yet have and how this would affect the publishing and broadcast industry.

In Online Creative Communication's hour panel debate and the hours of informal debate that followed I'm not convinced we really got to the bottom of those last two questions, and I left feeling that a lot of the people doing the business of 'traditional publishing' have the same aspirations that many educators would have for something new and different from the textbook, CD-Rom and accompanying 'interactive whiteboard compatible' web or network service, but have the same fears of what 'them upstairs' would say about it.

Media Convergence Divergence
In an age where the buzzword is 'Media Convergence', the feeling I get resoundingly from the chalkface is that life in school and life in the real world are increasingly diverging. The average length of one session on Bebo is 36 minutes, averaging out at about 47 minutes per day (that means lots of kids going onto Bebo every other day and spending maybe more than an hour in one sesh). Your average UK teen currently spends 1400 minutes a week online, and only 60 of them in front of a computer in school (most of which may be offline, on a slow connection or on a networked proprietary exercise).

Just looking at the comparison between a social network like Bebo and the lack of interactivity in your average VLE by comparison, shows this divergence. We can also take a look at the kind of non-social simplistic games provided by publishers at the moment, games which amount to little more than drill and (s)kill, with a limited number of levels and only one (or a few) correct answers. Compare that to the ultra complex games made of hundreds of levels and open-ended plot lines defined by the player.

For publishers, though, until they see education getting more aligned with this 'real world' they will not pander to it - because the end-users of their products, regardless of whether they like the products or not, don't actually have the cash to buy them.

Publishers as Change Agents
For me, the whole industry needs to reconsider its role in education change. I'm not sure they see how powerful their role in education change is. They are the tail and they are wagging the dog. They have a superb opportunity, along with examination boards, to make a reality in schools the pedagogy of the world's top performing countries (based upon assessment for learning, not assessment of learning, and rich tasks truly centred around the desires and directions of the learners). The could be working on leading a change to quality teaching and learning of the kind we see in Finland, New Zealand, Australia and, to some extent, Scotland, rather than attempting to apply the summatively assessed high-stakes tested pedagogy of the world's biggest countries, such as the United States, India and China.

It's not an easy ride. Just last week I had a teacher from France ask why she would attempt to engage learners in creative writing with a computer game, when, for her, it was so much easier just to show a film. Sure, showing a film is a pleasant experience but you can't do it all the time. Likewise, video games and social networks are arguably just as or more engaging for the young person of 2007 and should enter the toolset of any teacher. It's not easy for them, but teachers like this one have to remember that it's not about them: change requires relearning, giving a damn enough to give a go with something that engages the students. Is lifelong learning just something to which we're going to pay lip service? Surely for publishers, to, there's more money to made in lifelong learning than from just thirteen year's worth of statutory learning.

My final point: the market is there. And if it's not it can be made. In East Lothian, in just one year, we've gone from a handful of teachers sharing their work around a table in one room and on their blogs, to over 300, over a third of the total workforce. Teachers talking not about textbooks and the latest course they're thinking of buying (the kind of thing I see on email discussion lists) but on the pedagogy they have been trying in their classrooms, and the positive results they are gaining from it. It didn't just happen; it was nurtured.

Publishers talk about the fear factor the teachers they speak to would have were they to go down the route of children taking more control of their learning, but especially using technologies the teachers themselves understand very little. Yet, few of these same publishers would say their resources were anything other than "learner-centred". Are publishers just paying lip-service to the notion? Would they put their money where their mouth is and engage in active re-training of teachers to make a better product sell? Softease have been doing this really successfully, showing many teachers and schools why podcasting is an important ingredient in changing the way we teach and learn by holding workshops and engaging further through their numerous blogs.

This, I think, is where the biggest dent can be made:

Five Things Publishers Can Do Now To Survive In The Abundance And Connectivity Of Social Media

  1. We need to help people over the barriers to change, rather than bullishly attempting to break these barriers down. If anyone tries to break a barrier they'll end up sore and failing. Helping the change over the barrier will let it run on.
  2. Publishers should start appealing directly to their end-users by giving them free stuff. There is a market in giving it away to them, and charging those with the purse strings. Just ask Mark at Coffee Break Spanish about the last 10.5 million downloads of his 'little podcast'.
  3. We never see a community of learners related to a textbook. There's a market there waiting to be exploited. I can see how it would work, too. Costs little, makes customers and end-users feel valued and involves everyone in making the product better.
  4. I will continue to avoid trade halls at conferences, because I just start to annoy the stall holders. "But I can do this already with these free tools", a phrase that has been met with every excuse you can imagine. It doesn't matter if I need to log in to two separate sites to do what I want, it doesn't matter if it's not a "one-stop-shop" if it does what I want it to do. When pretty much everything traditional publishers is available for free, and when really what I want my students to be doing is remixing and creating their own content, what purple cows are you going to give me to make me part with cash?
  5. I'd hope to see fewer publishers pandering to the digital natives/immigrants thesis in order to continue selling easy products, selling on the ignorance of customers about what is already out there for free. My pet hate is the school podcasting service that will charge you the best part of $5000 to host a podcast created on Open Source software (Audacity). The whole process could be done by a school for free or a maximum of $100 to do it really well.

Pic: Textbook Money

November 19, 2007

Six billion others

6millionothers French photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand, who took those breathtaking aerial shots of our planet, has been undertaking a long-term large-scale project interviewing some of the 6 billion souls on this planet about their cultures, hopes and fears.

Fascinating stuff, both from a global citizenship side as well as a French, Modern Foreign Languages reading and viewing point of view, you simply click on the face of the person who you want to hear speak about love, war, peace, fear, politics, desert, tundra...

November 17, 2007

In The Womb: more free podcast goodness

  SCIENCE AnimalsRTX 1 
  Originally uploaded by carolekhan44

On the way home on Thursday night from Derbyshire I was being entertained by (and learning loads through) the fantastic In The Womb video podcast (search for it in iTunes).

Each of the five episodes is only about 4 minutes, a summary of the ground-breaking National Geographic Channel series, revealing in a behind-the-scenes set of videos some of the science behind the foetus, the womb and birth. Fascinating stuff, and all of this sitting for free on the web!

October 24, 2007

Keynotes to go: Scottish Learning Festival iPodised

I don't even know if iPodised is a word (yet), but you can get all the goodness of the Scottish Learning Festival keynotes from the likes of Stephen Heppell, Michael Fullan, Pasi Sahlberg and Mick Waters right there, on your iPod video or MP4 player. Head over to Connected Live to see how.

The Connected Live Podcast can be found on iTunes and offers some smaller podcasts (2-5 minutes each) for those whose attention span or time for professional development is rather more limited.

October 10, 2007

(Wo)man of Web 2.0 Skypecast

I had a ball this afternoon, October 10th, sitting as a Scottish educator in New Zealand debating with teachers working in 'yesterday', October 9th, about tomorrow's opportunities. If only the time difference really did allow us to gaze into the crystal ball...

The Women of Web 2.0 invited David Jakes and me to their Tuesday night shindig of a debate, with over 60 educators from all over the planet tuning in to the live Skypecast 'radio show' and chipping in on the chat zone. It was great to see Neil Winton back home chipping in with some great wee points about the superb work he's doing, helping to back up some of what David and I were saying, and I was indebted to Suzie in my new 'home' of NZ for relaying the chat over to me, as I sat in a local high school which wouldn't quite let me get into that (but which was great at allowing YouTube, Flickr etc etc).

We covered a lot of ground, but the main things that I was trying to get across were:

  • We must make sure that we call a spade a spade when dealing with new technology. Pandering to 'baby speak' when it comes to new technologies will only delay the inevitable; better that educators accept the 'jargon' that their teens see as normal vocabulary.
  • It's easy to assume that all teachers have an equal understanding of educational jargon; we don't. Blogs, wikis and podcasts might be unsavoury vocabulary for many educators, used as a way to escape having to learn new skills. What about assessment for learning, assessment as learning, inquiry skills, rich tasks, cooperative learning... For many educators these still remain meaningless jargon, but arguably are even more worthy of attention than blogs, wikis and podcasts. At least with the former, the latter begin to make sense.
  • Small agile nations seem to be doing best in the education world. What can big nations do to become more like exciting energised startups than large corporations?

I think you'll be able to download the full hour long debate from the Women of Web 2.0 wiki soon. The full audio and text from the chat is available

October 08, 2007

Berkeley's 300 hours of lectures on YouTube

Berkeley_on_youtube I think it's great to see Berkeley University giving away over 300 hours of lecture content on YouTube, taking the notion of 'open courseware' from MIT that one stage further.

Wouldn't be great if the YouTubed lectures replaced the face-to-face ones, and liberated those 300 hours for some face-to-face collaborative work by the students when they come to the university building? I doubt that'll happen any time soon, even though I think it's a better idea ;-)

You can take the University into YouTube, but you can't get YouTube into the University...

October 05, 2007

Making your podcast more pro

Making a radio show, a regular podcast, that kids and parents can find on iTunes and listen to in their own time, has huge advantages of class presentations or even just plopping audio onto the school website without its feed. Jane's workshop, summed up by the Dragon, gave a rundown of these pedagogical outcomes from podcasting with youngsters.

Over the past year I've worked with scores of educators in East Lothian, Scotland, to explore ways of turning the turgid "school news" podcast in to something more. We've used Apple's Garageband, Audacity, and Audacity Portable for use on a USB stick: whichever one we choose has little to do with the output provided the thought process into content has taken place. Educators there have put together some great step-by-steps on creating your own podcasts and publishing them on a Word Press MultiUser blog. You could just as easily (more easily?) publish your MP3 as a podcast on Gabcast or GCast (both of which also allow American educators to record a podcast and upload it directly from their mobile cell phone).

Finally, if you want to get into adding images or even movies to your podcasts, then check out JumpCut: just record your audio as normal in Audacity or Garageband, export as MP3, then add it as a backing to your accompanying photos or video.

Upping our skill levels, upping our language skills
Getting the quality of interaction higher on a podcast is not so hard when our good friends at the BBC Training Unit make their official training manuals completely open for you to use. Their advice on researching and carrying out interviews is a great resource for teaching questioning and research skills.

Vox pops, the voice of the man (or woman) on the street, are a great way to get into the simple skill of cutting blocks of spoken language (and not mixing, which is the slightly more complex skill of blending sounds into one). Listening to as many as you can helps show what questioning skills are all about, and how tricky it is not to end up with 'yes' and 'no' all the time.

We also saw how colour from YouTube video audio tracks, or adverts pulled off the web can help contextualise your students' audio. One group, running a vox pops on whether Macs were better than PCs, used Audio Hijack on a free trial to rip the sound track of the recent funny ads. They could also envisage doing the same thing to interview students and teachers in other countries through Skype, for example.

Slide002 Main top tips for pro podcasting


Record an exciting advert to open your show. Get the voice track laid down first, and then add some music from a podsafe music source. Finally, cut it all together and export the file for use in all your future podcasts.

Slide003 Vox pops
Ask open-ended questions and then cut, don't mix, the answers.

If the background noise is different for each person you interview then make sure you hold the mic in the air for a minute or so just to record some 'atmos', some atmospheric sound that will cover over all those cuts.

Slide004 Interviews
Students need to learn how to ask as many good open-ended questions as possible, so let them rip! However, when it comes to cutting the final interview together, try to get them to cut together only four questions and answers. This isn't just learning how to synthesise information in your own words, but learning how to synthesise information in others' words. Tricky... but kids like the challenge.

Slide005 Listen in!
The best way to learn how to make better podcasts is to listen, listen, listen to others' efforts. There are plenty of ideas of podcasts for teachers and students to listen to, but even a poor podcast can help show what you shouldn't maybe do in your own.

Slide006 Planning your attack
Knowing how much time to spend on each element of creating a podcast is not as easy as planning a lesson based around textbook, where the exercises don't change in timescale from year to year. So, beforehand, have a plan of action for how much time you wan to spend on:

  • Deciding subject matter
  • Planning a show
  • Recording voices
  • Finding music
  • Editing
  • In-class première
  • Online launch

September 26, 2007

Connected Live sums up the Festival

Connected_live_blog I've been finding LTS's new web project, Connected Live, quite a challenge to help bring together, but its coverage of the Scottish Learning Festival both last week and now is second-to-none, thanks to the wide range of interesting folk writing for the main blog, the Tartan Podcaster's superb mini podcasts, and some great captures from the film crew.

I've just written a mega summing up of all things Stephen Heppell, covering all the keynote videos, filmed interviews and blog posts about perhaps one of the most inspiring honorary Scots I've heard speak (he only ever seems to say nice things about us; that makes him a Scot in my book :-)

Coming over the next week there will be more podcasts from Mark, interviews with fascinating kids and teachers at the Festival, and the Learning Festival mini documentaries will start appearing soon.

Connlive_2ndlife I'm also hoping to host a series of discussions on the keynote speeches from the Festival in Second Life, once people have had a chance to visit our Connected Live Virtual Conference Hall and have a look and a listen (you may wish to view them online instead). A (very) few of us met there the other night and had a wonder. A few others turned up late to the party and felt a bit alone.

How do you keep on top of all this cool stuff?
There are a few ways (aren't there always?) of keeping all this stuff on the top of your list of professional development. the main thing to remember, and something I'm really keen to have marketed a bit better by us (note to self), is that nothing we publish takes more than five minutes to read, view or listen to. It's snack-sized portions of professional development for the teacher that really doesn't have the time but does have the desire to learn.

Soon you'll be able to have text messages or RSS to your phone, with all the latest from Scotland's national education agency and hundreds of Scotland's schools.

We've had loads of positive feedback, and a few people saying they want more 'hefty' CPD. Is snack-sized the way to go? Well, we'll still be putting loads of full sessions out on audio podcast and carrying out plenty of video shoots with interesting teachers and classes around Scotland.

Hefty CPD can live on, but fun-sized has just entered the market.

August 13, 2007

What are your favourite podcasts for you and for your learners?

Teachmeetrs In East Lothian we're creating a new year of TeachMeet Roadshows, training events which, it's hoped, anyone can pick up and roll with. They follow a fairly 'samey' pattern, but it works since a whole school or set of departments in a school leave the event with a relatively high basic understanding of one new technology.

In the podcasting section I'm trying to work out what people reckon their favourite podcasts are, both for them as teachers developing professionally and also for students who are studying in a subject area. John and David's superb Podcast Directory provides more than enough choice for younger learners, but what about teachers? I'll try to do the same for the blogging training events soon, so feel free to add your thoughts there.

If you have a contribution to make, if you want to give a shoutout to your own podcast for teachers or learners, please do head over to the wiki and add a link.

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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