Friday, 31 December 2010

About those podcasts.....

I have had a horrid cold this last week and so, confined to my sofa with lemsip and laptop, I have been catching up on some reading (well, browsing Twitter).

An article about the growing interest in podcasting in HE took me to a video presentation from Gilly Salmon on the subject, and eventually to ipadio.

Gilly's talk about pedagogical podcasting ended by convincing me of two things: 1)that "podcast" does not have to mean lecture capture and 2) that there is value in the human voice supplementing written or visual material to encourage and support even on-campus students.

I have long been averse to podcasting precisely because I didn't want to offer recordings of lectures. I don't really DO lectures, so maybe that's why. I HAVE however used audio instructions to supplement written ones for students - on preparing assignments, for example - and I have had positive feedback from students about how they do indeed value that "human touch".

I am a big fan of screencapture and I still intend to do more of this - particularly in giving students feedback on assignments. There are times when the audio and the visual need to come together - to (literally) illustrate a key point, perhaps - but Gilly had evidence to show that pedagogical audio podcasting also has a place.

Where audio wins out over screencapture/video is in file size, downloadability, speed and simplicity. The almost universal provision of voicerecorders and mp3 players in mobile phones makes audio podcasting a very efficient way of getting information to students on the move.

So now we come to ipadio (rhyming with i-radio). This is a website hosting "phlogs" - voice based blogs that you phone in. It is also an iphone (and android) app that allows you to record high quality audio using "voice memo" and upload it to your phlog. You can also download the phlog post for editing or upload an mp3 file you have already created. There are one-click links to Facebook, Twitter, and many other blogging sites, codes to allow you to embed the phlog on your own website, upload it to iTunes or provide an RSS feed. One absolutely astounding feature is the incorporation of Spinvox speech to text software which provides a transcript of the phlog. This really adds to the application's accessibility. And you can add images and location data if needed. In fact there is so much going on here that the possibilities are endless.

My own modest ambition is to embed a regular phlog within the VLE Learning Room (I have already successfully done this in a test) as a means of supplementing the module I am teaching. As I have already abandoned the lecture format, my aim is to give the students online and printable material together with audio podcasts which direct them in key activities such as discussion board topics and further self-organised study. Our face to face time can then be used for more in depth discussion of the material and work on group projects.

I have embedded a phlog below, with a photo for illustrative purposes. Enjoy!