Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Historical Podcasting

I have been asked a couple of times why I do not do any podcasting here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. My answer is simple:  I don't know how to do it and don't have the time to learn.

But after reading Chuck Tryon's recent post at Profhacker I can no longer use that excuse. Here is a taste:

The first steps involve uploading the free podcast recorder, Audacity and the free LAME MP3 encoder, which helps to make the audio file accessible to most computers and audio players. Recording the podcasts was relatively simple, and I was able to create a clean audio file using the microphone on my Mac. Although I initially struggled with integrating the recorder and the MP3 converter, once I managed to get that to work, the conversion usually took about one minute for a 7-minute audio file.

But making the podcast is one thing. Finding a space to host the podcasts where they will be accessible to students is another issue. Savage’s solution, which I’ve followed, is to host podcasts on the Internet Archive, where you can sign up for an account and begin uploading files within minutes onto their community audio archive. One valuable feature of using the Internet Archive is that files seem to upload very quickly. My 7-minute lectures were uploaded in minutes—just a few seconds after I’d finished filling out the title, description, and tags for identifying the video—and they play in both Flash and HTML5 formats

There are a number of other benefits to hosting your podcast on the Internet Archive. First, the file can be embedded on other websites and blogging platforms, including Blogger, so that they can be shared easily, without asking students to follow additional links. Second, because the files are hosted on the Internet Archive, they can either be donated to the public domain or shared using a Creative Commons license, which means that your podcasts can be used by others who might share an interest in the topic. The tagging feature also proved helpful for me in terms of organizing course materials so that I could find the podcasts I needed very easily by tagging them with my name. It’s also worth noting that the Internet Archive allows you to upload test podcasts that will be deleted automatically after 30 days, a feature that proved incredibly helpful after I had struggled for several hours to create and upload my first couple of podcasts.

So what kinds of content would you like to see on a The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast?