Archive for February, 2008

Let the Podcasting begin

Well, I did my first podcasting training last week. With all of the information about podcasting and different avenues that you could go down…image trying to fit all of that into a 2 hour session. Its impossible! I made it clear at the beginning to the participants that they would not be learning how to use any specific types of software in this workshop. I could have spent 2 hours alone on how to use each software. As a department we have decided to support Audacity, Camtasia, and GarageBand. So, we will do separate workshops for each of those.

Instead, I started off the workshop with a little discussion, asking them about their experience so far with podcasting and if they even knew what it was or had subscribed to a podcast. I always like to have a “get-to-know” the participants and what their prior knowledge is (this goes for any workshop I conduct).

I began with a discussion about terminology…what exactly is a podcast, podcasting, RSS feed, etc? I found that many of the participants where new to these terms. Since I work for a university I approached the workshop from and educational stand-point talking about how podcasting can be used in education and showed them some examples from our podcasting pilot faculty, how they are using them in their courses.

The first hands-on activity…I had them go out to a podcast directory (I gave them a list to choose from) and find a podcast they were interested in subscribing to and I showed them how to use iTunes to subscribe to their chosen podcast. I gave them an orientation of iTunes and talked to them about the iTunes store and finding podcasts through there.

Before jumping into the recording and publishing a podcast part, I felt it was necessary to discuss the planning process. Although there are many podcasts out there, I’m sure, that took no planning at all, when using podcasting for educational purposes, I think it is important to do at least a little planning before hand, especially if you want it to be beneficial to your students. You should decide on a consistent format for your podcast and ask yourself questions like:

  • What do I want my students to get out of it?
  • Is this required or optional for my students?
  • Should I use video or audio?
  • What software will I use to record?

Recording, of course, is an important part of the process, but due to the time constraints of this 2-hour workshop, was not able to cover much in regards to this. I covered, location, location, location….

We developed our own internal solution for publishing. We developed a podcasting application that allows our faculty and staff to login with their user id and password and upload their files and the application will create the RSS feed for them. We use a single sign-on using LDAP, so they don’t have to remember another username and password, they use the same one they use for everything else. Faculty and staff have the ability to create and manage podcasts and students only have the ability to view podcasts.

We also discussed issues of accessibility (captioning videos and providing transcripts for audio), copyright and permissions. As with any other technology, I believe it is so important to stress the appropriate use of it.

Overall, I think the first session went well. I was able to get a idea of what their expectations where and now am planning to do an Advanced Podcasting workshop, to hopefully get to the other material I didn’t have time to cover in the first one….there never seems to be enough time to cover it all.

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Virtual Classrooms are a new way to improve distance education

Virtual classrooms are becoming more popular in distance education. A virtual classroom is a virtual meeting room space that is fully-featured with audio, video, text chatting, and application sharing. It also includes an electronic white board, and allows the instructor to upload their presentations and images to share with the class. The virtual classroom will also give the instructor the user management tools to control the classroom. Some examples of virtual classrooms on the market include Eluminate Live and Wimba Live Classroom.

The video and audio in virtual classrooms allows for the simulation of a face-to-face course. It makes it possible for courses that might not have been able to be online in the past because of the lack of interaction now possible. There are some hindrances to using virtual classrooms in courses. It is not always possible for students to have the technology that is needed to make it effective. For example, using a dial-up connection can often make the experience very difficult.

We use Wimba Classroom which has really helped enhance our distance learning programs. For courses that really needed a way to interact effectively it has helped tremendously to make that happen.

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Welcome to The Instructional Technologist’s Blog

This blog has been set up as a place to discuss different technological tools that are available to use in instruction. It is also a place to discuss the challenges in using technology for instruction and best practices in instructional design. Instructional technology is the idea of using technology to enhance the learning experience. Instructional design is the process of applying a systematic approach in the designing of learning to ensure the most effective learning is taking place.

This blog will include tips and tricks learned from the perspective of an instructional technologist. Teaching faculty to use technology appropriately in the classroom can be very challenging, but can be very rewarding too when you see how the technology enhances the learning experience for the students. Technology is not meant to replace the act of instruction by the faculty member it is only meant to enhance the learning experience for the students and to aid the faculty member in finding new an exciting ways to make the learning experience fun.

I am an Instructional Technologist at a university in the United States and would like to use this blog to share what we are doing at our university with technology. I would love to get feedback from others and open up a dialog about how other organizations are using technology in education.

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