The Great Southwest CCS Group is on the road

The students and faculty of the SAU Great Southwest 2005 crosscultural studies trip left last Friday, heading for Arizona and New Mexico.

I expect they will begin posting their podcasts in the next day or two. I will link to their podcasts as they appear, but for now, you can visit their site and listen to their pre-trip podcast.

This group of students have the distinction of presenting the first ever podcasts in an academic program at Spring Arbor Univeristy.

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Creating more engaging media

In the past 2 weeks I have spent most of my waking hours (and some non-waking hours) on designing an online training course for our online faculty, or scrambling to keep up with the work load in my doctoral program.

The online faculty training program was actually written by an expert in online education, and good friend and colleague of mine, Dr. Robert Woods. He is a professor in our Communications department, and a heavy duty researcher and writer. He was kind enough to give me permission to use/modify/hack his faculty training course (for communications faculty) into a more generic version for all other SAU online faculty.

In an attempt to model the use of a variety of technologies, and engage faculty’s interest, I have created narrated presentations of some sections of the various workshops. As a result, I have learned about the quirks of Apple’s Keynote, Impatica (Mac & PC), Garage Band, and Powerpoint. The added benefit to all this practice and experience is I feel I can create a passable podcast without too much difficulty now. Here’s a link to one of the items I produced for the course.

Tools used for the presentation:

The opening slide of the presentation was re-purposed for this presentation. I created it originally for some flash based technology tutorials last year. The little music intro is one of the clips included in Serious Magic’s Visual Communicator Pro.

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Patience is a virtue

If I had just waited another 5 minutes, I wouldn’t have written the last post.

After meditating on the mysteries of podcasting and podcasting gremlins, I took another look at iPodder on my Mac. When I last looked, it was busy downloading the latest episodes of
Geekcast podcast. When I looked this time, there was the Podagogy podcast queued for download. I guess I need to understand the potential for delay between posting the podcast and having it appear in neighborhood aggregators. I’ll add that to my list of “things I need to learn”.

It’s a very large list.

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Well, it works…kind of

Obviously I have a lot to learn in the blogging/podcasting arena. I put my first podcast file up on this site, linked to it, and quick-like-a-bunny, I fired up iPodder on my Mac to watch my first podcast appear. Hmmmm…

The first podcat seems invisible on my Mac. I check, double-check, and re-check all my typing, syntax, table manners, etc., everything seems to be in order. Drat! My proxy setting in iPodder for the Mac was wrong. So I fixed that too.

I slumped into the chair in front of my PC and fired up the PC version of iPodder. Glory be! There’s the podcast, and it’s queued for download. Oh yeah! It works! (I’m moonwalking around the room). Ok, settle down. One podcast does not a podcaster make. I need to have a chat with my iBook and figure out why it doesn’t see the podcast.

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First podcast attempt

Now that final exams and final papers are behind me I can pick up on my podcasting activities. Oddly enough, my first podcast is a by-product of a narrated PowerPoint presentation I was experimenting with at work. If you haven’t tried to create a narrarated PowerPoint presentation on a Mac, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get it done. But, that’s another story.

I finished the narrated presentation, and also converted the audio track (recorded in Garage Band) into MP3 format. The presentation is about 6 minutes in length, on the topic:
Differences between teaching an online course and a traditional course. Not exactly earth shaking stuff, but I needed this presentation for a faculty training course I’m building.

I ran the finished presentation through Impatica to generate a nice, tight, flash version for use online. However, the compression used by Impatica resulted in pretty poor sounding audio. I ended up turning off the audio compression and finally got a decent final result. The downside is, uncompressed audio resulted in a much larger flash file. Bummer. On the other hand, the MP3 version sounds just fine. Hmmmm….. Maybe my voice is too deep.

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Getting started (restarted)

Just when I thought I was ready to do my first podcast my work/school/life responsibilities decided otherwise. So here is where things stand at the moment.

1. Final paper for Development Ed class due Friday (guess what I’m working on for the next couple of nights)

2. Two of our three kids were in town for a visit so they obviously get more attention than a budding podcast.

3. I’m cubeless at work! My cube has been dismantled as part of an office remodeling, so I’ve taken over some space in the university library. With the coffee bar just a few steps away I may have a hard time moving back to a cube (can you say Starbucks?).

4. I actually have made good progress on a narrated Powerpoint/Keynote presentation on the basics of podcasting. I may have that done before I produce a decent audio podcast.

5. I have to have all our ducks lined up for the university’s podcast pilot project by today. I think we are good to go, but I have to check with the faculty member to make sure he has all that he needs and feels ready to begin.

This podcasting pilot deserves a bit more explanation.

Academic Requirement
One of the requirements in our undergrad curriculum is to participate in a crosscultural experience. These are trips to places like China, Japan, France, Germany, England, Zambia, Kenya, Jamaica, the Great Southwest USA, Chicago Urban Studies Center, Italy, Russia, and probably several others I’ve forgotten to mention. The trips combine academic studies with exploration, and getting to know locals. The Chicago trip involves a couple of weeks ministering and working at the Urban Studies Center and the Olive Branch Mission. As stated on the CCS web site, these trips are “a basis of intelligently participating in the affairs of the contemporary world is to realize that we are no longer an isolated people, but part of a global community intimately linked to the rest of humanity and the world. This vague notion only becomes reality when there is actual interaction with those different than ourselves.”

Communication & Reflection
While on these trips, parents are concerned with the safety and well-being of their kids. Typically, the faculty leading these trips report back to the CCS offices on a regular basis by phone or email. These contacts provide a brief synopsis of the trip to date and assurance that all are well.

This year we want to test the feasibility of podcasting as a way for students to report on the trip themselves. Prof. Rubio has brought together the necessary equipment for the road, and will assign the students to teams. Each day one team will have the responsiblity of developing a post summarizing their activities and experiences. Whenever Prof. Rubio has access to the internet he will upload the posts and audio to the project web site.

It will be interesting to see how the project turns out, as well as how the students repond to the opportunity to create podcasts. The wild card in the mix is availability of internet connections during the trip. I’ll provide an update on this project later this month.

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