Monday, November 15, 2010

PodCast Nation

We are a people that wants, as Andy Warhol once said, our fifteen minutes of fame. We have finally reached that pinnacle in our frame of history, where the Internet has provided so much exposure and interaction the world over, conversations between like-minded people, where any topic or question can be sought out at the flick of a keystroke and any information that you want to share, can be. Today, more than ever, each individual on the other end of the modem or broadband connection is reaching out for someone to listen to what they have learned or what they have to say, watch what they have produced, or share in their ideas as unique human beings. The World Wide Web has done that for us.
So, when I was asked to create a podcast, I thought about what topic interested me and how I could possibly use this medium in the future, for teaching Art History at the graduate level (or even advanced high school, for that matter). I had used the GarageBand program, available on Mac, before and yet, it had been like anything else that I have creatively touched in my life, a toy to play with, and once uninterested, left it to lay. It had been two years since I had thought about podcasting and so, I approached the program recommended for this class, ProfCast, with more interest, since I now own a PC.
We wrote a planning worksheet last week, which seemed like a reverse-order thinking for me: to think about and plan out the whole thing before beginning. Okay, maybe that's how lesson plans are written too, but its always hard for my brain to work backwards just the same, to visualize what the end product will look like before beginning and finding a totally different outcome...
I ran into a few hurdles while recording and realized that every window needed to be open on my desktop screen, so that I could easily push a button to cue the music, power point that went along with it, and the voice recording program. I had it all done, or so I thought, told the program to share, saved my work and then went back to listen and double check it before finalizing a post: no recording at minutes of nothing-air and back to the drawing board.
Okay, start volume was on mute! Finished the recording in record time. Here's a taste,  but I'm sure your students will do better than I.

Things to think about when using this tool with students: first, you may want to make sure students are placed into groups, so that if something is not understood they don't get frustrated and just quit, instead they will have their peers to get feedback from; second, be sure to walk them through the steps of creating the script, recording the audio and/or video, and the making of the power point, making sure all steps are taken to break down the assignment; and lastly, give them time to pace themselves, hear themselves recorded and allow them to take the necessary time to rework what is not performing correctly.
If they don't feel too much of a pressure crunch about their pace, they will have a great time producing a short lecture of sorts on a topic that they're interested in and be able to share what they've learned with the Podcast Nation that we've helped them to become a part of through this invisible thing we call the world wide web.

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