Podcasting lectures

Photo by pmarkham

John Hobbins is a fine scholar, and a great teacher (at least judging by what I see on his blog, which is basically our point of contact), but I just could not understand a passing comment in his recent post: Teaching “The Bible and Current Events” Online for he wrote:

I am not actually teaching the course online (though once I figure out how to podcast the lectures, I may do that).

Kiwis are used to making do, the national mythology sees Kiwis making aircraft before the Wrights from no.8 fencing wire, so, to podcast a lecture I just use my cheap mobile phone to record, placing it on the podium in front of me. I then convert the AMR file to MP3 using the free Mobile Media Converter, just drag the file and drop it, the program outputs it after conversion with a new name, it is as easy as that. The program works across platforms (at least Win and Linux – but I think Mac also). I then upload it to the class site, done.

[Sometimes I get hi-tech and edit out the faffing around, I use Audacity also free and also cross-platform for that.]

Using my phone instead of a fancy gadget means I have no need to do complicated technical stuff like noise reduction. It is simple, quick, easy and just works.

3 comments on “Podcasting lectures

  1. John Hobbins

    Hi Tim,

    The classroom I teach in is not currently equipped to record lectures. I need to get someone from IT to do a few things, like set up a microphone. I haven’t done that yet. Beyond that, I need to be able to edit out parts of class time before making podcasts available – privacy issues.. I don’t know how I go about that – perhaps I will have to send files to my laptop and edit them with software I may or may not already have.

    I’m convinced that if I were a Kiwi, I’d have all of this figured out and done by now, but alas, I’m a standard-issue Yank, convinced that podcasts of my lectures would not be useful to anyone except students I have who miss class anyway.

    Does it make sense to listen to podcasts that last more than 5 minutes? I have my doubts.

  2. Tim Bulkeley

    Hi, John :)

    Like I said above I don’t think you need to get a lecture theatre equipped to record lectures. I just put my fairly old and basic mobile phone on the lecturn and set it to record. The only issue is that it will only record in 59 minute chunks. But phones are designed to work well with voice.

    The one “extra” feature I wanted on my phone was bluetooth so I could move the files to my laptop. But if your phoine can’t do that then many (especially older and often cheap) MP3 players will do the same job. In that case I used to put the MP3 in my shirt pocket.

    If neither of those work dedicated digital recorders are available here for about $200.

    Again like I said above I use Audacity to do any simple editing needed, it is as easy as editing a text document except you use your ears instead of eyes, and can only “read the text” sequentially. But once I’ve identified the bit to cut I just block it and press [delete] if I make a mistake [Ctrl-Z] or [Edit – Undo] works fine :)

    Audacity is free, if there is a step in the process you don’t underrstand I can do a screencast to show you how it works in Win XP.

    On usefulness I get as many comments from students who were in the class and used the podcast to listen again to a bit they did not “get” – I find some distance students like them but not all, I don’t really recommend podcast lectures for distance, but again some find them great, students are different and all have different preferences and learning styles, some are aural learners :)

    Do try it, they’ll like it!

  3. Tim Bulkeley

    PS on the 5 minute question, the “revisers” above fast forward to the spot they want, which probably do only last a few minutes each… But as I said I have some students who listen to the whole thing. I sometimes listen to lectures in the car, or on a bus, I’m sure students to that too.