Tag Archives: Podcasts

Podcasting Apps!

My laptop is on its last legs, if the number of times it has crashed in the past month is any indication.  Ever since buying an iPad when they first came out, I have been relying on my laptop less and less.  If I can do something on my iPad, great.  If not, then I’ll reluctantly fight with my old Dell.

When I saw the podcast assignment, my first thought was, “Oh no.  My laptop can’t handle this.”  Then: “Oh no.  I don’t have a microphone that can handle this.”

I was right on both counts.  My computer refused to recognize the microphone, and when it finally did, it sounded like I was underwater.  I didn’t want to go out and buy a new microphone because it might not be any better.

On a whim, I searched the App Store for podcasting apps.  One of the first results was Bossjock Studio.  It looked really cool, but it also looked simple enough that even I could use it.  At $9.99, it was going to be much cheaper than a second microphone.  I downloaded the app and then discovered what I should have realized earlier.  You can’t plug a microphone into an iPad.

I checked Staples and Amazon for iPad microphones and came across a few suspicious looking splitters.  Finally, I decided to try the iPad’s built in microphone before buying another microphone.  I launched the BossJock app and created a test recording.  The sound was crisper than anything I had recorded so far.  The microphone was excellent.  I was able to record myself, and the product didn’t make me sound like I was talking around a mouthful of cotton.

I recorded my podcast in short segments to give myself time to breathe and prepare for the next segment.  After about three minutes, I would start to lose my breath and my focus.  In my first podcast, the sound was crystal clear.  A little too clear.  About three minutes in, I heard my dog snoring.  Five minutes in, I heard a fire truck in the background.

I re-recorded the podcast and then exported it as an mp3 file.  I imported the file into Audacity and then used Audacity to add the intro music, transition, and concluding music.  Cutting and pasting in Audacity was surprisingly easy.  I probably could have edited the podcast in Bossjock, but I was more familiar with that feature in Audacity, so I used that.  Hopefully, I managed to cut out most of the “Ums” and “Uhs.”  I also cut out a segment that didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the podcast.

I still really hate listening to the sound of my voice, but a higher quality mic made a big difference.  I’m thrilled that I was able to find an iPad app that I could use for part of the assignment.

The BossJock interface:

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Podcasting…what is it good for?

I’m a visual learner to the point where anything that just contains audio can’t hold my attention.  As much as I love books, I can’t listen to audiobooks.  I have a difficult time following the plot, and that’s assuming that I can stay awake.  When I started college, I tried recording lectures and replaying them later to increase retention, but again, I couldn’t follow.  I needed something visual in order to retain the information.
When I first heard about podcasts, I tried to find ones that would interest me.  I listened to podcasts on iTunes U.  I downloaded podcasts from NPR.  Just like with audiobooks, I had a hard time finding a podcast that I could follow.
When creating or using podcasts in an educational setting, I think it’s important to remember the different types of learners.  Auditory learners will benefit from podcasts the most, especially if they are listening to podcasts that review lessons.  Visual learners need graphics, charts, or text in order to learn material.  These students may find themselves unable to focus on the content of the podcast.  For these students, a screencast or vodcast that gives them something to look at will be more beneficial.  In my case, I found it easier to pay attention to lectures when I could take notes.  Maybe I am a bit of a kinesthetic learner as well.  For kinesthetic learners, podcasts and screencasts may be difficult for them to follow.  Simulations where they can complete an activity would be the most helpful.
Instructors can’t control what types of learners they have in their classes.  Most likely, they will end up with a mix of all three types, so educational materials need to be available for each type of learner.  A course that just uses podcasts to teach the material will frustrate visual and kinesthetic learners.  A course that just uses screencasts will frustrate kinesthetic learners unless there is a hands on component.
When I am designing educational materials, I know that I tend to create materials that would appeal to visual learners.  Because I respond to graphics and videos, I rely on those tools heavily.  I don’t usually record podcasts because they never cross my mind as helpful tools for learning.  (Well, that, and the fact that I hate the sound of my voice.)
I think instructors need to make a conscious choice to create materials that appeal to all learners, if possible.  It is easy to fall back on what is comfortable and familiar, but in order to appeal to all students, we may have to step outside that comfort zone.