Day 28: Podcasting Upgrade

28 10 2009

Today was my birthday; if you’ll look closely at the iPhone in the picture, you’ll notice that it is actually a birthday cake (from debbiedoescakes.net). Nobody got me a birthday cake quite this fancy, however I was able to celebrate by spending all day in a computer lab while the seniors from my other two classes took an exit exam. Happy birthday to me!

However, my students in the connected learning class did not suffer too terribly from my absence (I’d like to think that they missed my stunning good looks and my rapier wit, but these are both doubtful as well).

This podcast class was a step or two up from my previous effort. I used very basic tools: Powerpoint will let you record narration (annotation) and custom timings; you basically play through your slides and say what you would say in class, making minor adjustments since you are not able to get feedback and answer questions. Once you have the annotation recorded, you save the file as a presentation and upload it someplace the students can find it. This one took me about an hour to prep, format, and record. A Powerpoint file saved as a presentation will play on almost any platform, so it’s a fairly universal format.

To close the circle and give them something to actually do (as opposed to just watching TV) I created an exercise over the chapter using Google forms. The students downloaded a file and submitted their answers automatically. Once again I had unusual problems with Google docs; about 27 students submitted successfully, 7 tried and failed, and 1 turned it in late (since it’s time stamped, there is not arguing there). Later I learned of others who could not submit successfully. My latest theory is that Safari doesn’t play nicely with Google docs, but I haven’t dug into this enough to know the truth yet.

For a class where I was nowhere around, I felt good about the material we covered. The students who attempted it were able to learn the concepts, then actually use them. This is a solid step up from a straight lecture, and two steps up from a day off. But as soon as the students start saying, “Can we just do the rest of the semester by podcast?” I’ll know I’m in trouble.

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