Podcasting Session at Henderson – Reflection

November 3, 2008

Dr. Patricia Weaver at Henderson State University had me do a 3 hour session on Podcasting and RSS tonight with one of her Ed Leadership classes.  This is the same class I talked to on October 20.  Having met with them once before made the session go smoother, but it was not without its bumps…

I had several goals tonight.  First, I wanted the students to search a variety of podcast directories on the web and listen to several podcasts in “consumer mode.”  Although iTunes makes podcast sampling a no-brainer, I wanted to avoid leaving the impression that podcasts are an apple-only affair.  Each of the web directories we looked at had a different interface, and there was no standard way for the users to listen to podcasts in their browsers.  This frustrated some.

Next, I wanted to introduce the students to Audacity, give them some “play time,” and then have them plan, record, and produce a short piece.  After getting the students to record their voice, drop in a background track, and export their work as an MP3, I only had an hour left.  At this point, the students were still with me, though.

Because few of the students had any experience with RSS in any context, I introduced Google Reader and had them subscribe to this blog.  Some of them may be reading right now!  (If you are, use the contact form on MoixLand and give some feedback on this session from your perspective, please!) They seemed excited to see the content aggregated in a convenient place.  I had them subscribe to a CNN feed as well as their own blog feed.  We watched RSS In Plain English.  We felt pretty good…

To demonstrate that podcasts are propagated using RSS, too, I had them subscribe to one of my podcasts using Google Reader.  During the introduction I played samples from my podcasts, so they had a rough understanding of what those programs are about.

Where I felt the disconnect was when we needed to use multiple web-enabled tools simultaneously to get the podcast published.  Task one was to get the MP3 file hosted online.  Each of the students had wikispaces wikis, so I walked them through uploading the MP3 to the wiki.  We then had to find the URL of the file on their space.  This confused a couple of folks.

Once we had copied the URL of the posted MP3 file to the Windows Clipboard, we had to log into Blogger to create a post referencing the MP3 file.  Some of the participants were exhibiting great frustration at this point.  We eventually got logged in, configured Blogger to support RSS Enclosures, and pasted the MP3 URL into the post.

Each of the students had previously subscribed to their blogs, so I had them refresh the Google Reader.  Some posts worked while others did not.  We discovered that some users’ wikis were public while others were private.  This meant that the MP3 files on private wikis were inaccessible to the aggregator thus making it impossible to listen.  Others experienced delays in the blog post reaching the aggregator.

Somehow, we muddled through.  Each student followed enough directions to get an MP3 posted to a blog entry that could be read in a podcatcher.  I, however, felt that I could have done better.

In hindsight, a number of the introductory activities could have been given as homework before the students came to the session.  If I had two class periods, we would have had a preliminary session on audio recording and production one week followed by another session covering just the hosting and posting issues the next week.

Students, I’m sorry that this process felt unfulfilling and hazy.  Take some time to practice these technologies and it will become clear.


2 Responses to “Podcasting Session at Henderson – Reflection”

  1. Alicia Steelman Says:

    The class was a little confusing, but is was great information. I was able to create the podcast. I was just not able to follow through with putting it on the website. You were a great help with that over the phone.

    I appreciate all you did for us.

  2. […] It took me nearly a year to pick up what I know about podcasting.  I know that it’s impossible to expect a workshop participant to walk in the door at 9:00 AM knowing nothing and walk out that afternoon and know everything.  What I do expect, though, is that they understand what a podcast is, be able to record and edit with Audacity, know that an MP3 file sitting on a web server isn’t by itself a podcast, and have at their disposal several resources to help them get their feed published.  So far, I haven’t been successful in getting all of those accomplished in one sitting.  Refer to my previous comments about the Henderson session. […]

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