Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

A Face for (Edcamp) Radio

From the Shameless Self-Promotion Department: I’m surfacing from the depths of grad school work for a quickie post to say that I was honored to be interviewed for an episode of Edcamp Radio last month.  Kristen Swanson and I spoke about this past August’s Edcamp Leadership event, the second annual Edcamp designed specifically for school leaders.

Check the Edcamp Radio page at BAM Radio Network and see Episode 15, or just hit the direct link to the audio.

Now, once again, periscope down…

Changes You Can Believe In

Just a quick midsummer’s post to let you know about two new ways to access my blog:

  • Odiogo is an excellent text-to-speech service that has voice-enabled my blogposts.  If listening is more your style than reading, click on the “Listen Now” icon just below each post title.  You can stream the blogpost online, add it to your iTunes, download the .mp3, or click on the “More” option to subscribe to the podcast or send it to Facebook, Digg, Delicious, and all the other usual suspects.  I invite you to subscribe to my Odiogo feed to receive the audio version of my blog in your reader/player of choice.
  • The good folks at MoFuse provide a free (and optionally ad-free!) mobile interface for your blog.  If you have your own domain name, you can also map it to your new mobile site.  The mobile version of this blog can be accessed at

Multiplicity of access is something that’s been on my mind lately; I don’t think that adding a voice to my blog is anything but a drop in an otherwise huge bucket, but as these tools come across my path, I try to be mindful of how students can utilize them – at least the concept, if not the specific tool (e.g., mobile phone access, text-to-speech).  Of course, the fact that I’m no longer in the classroom is turning out to be a double-edged sword in this regard – theoretically, I can reach more students in my current position than I could as a classroom teacher, BUT my removal from “the trenches” means that I now have an extra degree of separation to overcome in order to identify those in need and implement those changes.  I plan on being more proactive in that regard this coming school year, however, and I’ll be sure to report on my progress (or lack thereof) here.

I hope your summer has been as enjoyable as mine has been thus far; a little hard to believe there’s only four or five weeks left for some of us.

Hi-Tech Lo-Fi

 I posted last week about my attempts to mashup a slide show with sound at I took an Impress show on the life of Thomas a’ Becket I created about a year and a half ago and recorded some narration, simply to see how the service works. The results were very positive: it was both a Featured Slideshow (without sound) and, once I added the audio, the Slidecast of the Day. To date, it’s had over 400 views, and I’ve had some nice comments and private e-mail sent my way.

While I think bulletpoints have their places, I remember distinctly wanting to move in a more visual direction when I first put this together. Unfortunately, as any of my students can tell you, my lack of ability in the visual arts is legendary. Stick figures are about as detailed as I can get.

Mulling that over in my head, I asked myself, “Why not just go with stick figures, then?” Several hours later, the first of my Stick Figure Theatre presentations was born, and it was a hit with my Honors Brit Lit class. I share it with you folks not to garner e-pats on the back, but rather to give hope to the artistically disinclined that with a little creativity, even an utter lack of talent can’t stop you!

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For the teachers asking themselves, “So what does this mean for me?”, the biggest takeaway lesson I got was, “Less is more.” I could have made a 50-slide presentation with a million bulletpointed facts and gorgeous backgrounds (well, I couldn’t have, but someone else could have), but for some reason, I think the DIY ethic of this show struck a chord with my students. It certainly has none of the elegance of some of Dan’s stuff, and I’d never call it great art, but I think it has a bit of rough-around-the-edges appeal that you can’t get from a PowerPoint template.

It’s a timely lesson, as the New York Times recently ran a piece on the constant re-branding of merchandise in an effort to be more in our faces (and our students, as a major target demographic, bear the brunt of this). There’s something to be said today for simplicity in design – just because we have a million design tools at our disposal doesn’t mean we have to use them all (especially not all at once!). Just something to keep in mind as we prepare those first month of school and Back-to-School Night presentations.

Update, 8/14: If you’re reading this in a feedreader, there’s an embedded video that may not show up in your reader (it didn’t in mine, anyway) – come to the site to check it out.  Also, I realized after I uploaded that in the third from last slide, I mistakenly referred to Beckett as “Henry”.

A little recognition goes a long way…

My first official slidecast is not only up and running, it was selected as’s Slidecast of the Day. You can check out my take on the life of Thomas a’ Becket right from the front page of (I’ll post it here after it leaves the front page).

Word to the wise: if you plan on doing a slidecast, you can upload your Powerpoint, OpenOffice Impress, or Keynote (as PDF) files to Slideshare, but you must find your own separate hosting site for the accompanying mp3. I’ve used MediaFire and MyDatabus for hosting and streaming in the past (and I highly recommend both those services), but for some reason, their servers didn’t play nicely with Slideshare. I had to post the narration mp3 to – it worked flawlessly from there, and best of all, it’s free (as are Mediafire and parts of MyDatabus)!

If you’d like to download this slideshow, you can do so directly from If you’d like a copy of my lecture notes or the “script” (and I do use that term loosely), leave a comment or Twitter me.

Addendum: Dave Sherman recommended in a comment that I check out I did, and I was impressed by how much more dynamic it is in function than Slideshare. Every service suits a purpose, but in my mind, I see more possibilities for collaborative student work at Voicethread. Check out Dave’s thoughts on his blog, then go to Voicethread and run the demo.

Due to Technical Difficulties…

Looks like my slidecast debut will have to wait. I recorded narration for a slideshow I did a while ago on Thomas a Becket, but for some reason Slideshare can’t retrieve the MP3 from my hosting service. I’ve got an email in to Slideshare support; I’m hoping for a quick response, as I’d really like to get this up and posted.

I can offer the following reflection – the slide show I’ll be putting up usually takes me anywhere between 3o-40 minutes to go through in class. I know that sounds like a long time, but that includes taking questions, asking questions, elaborating, etc. Still probably on the long side, though, as I never script these things, and just run from either my head or a list of bulletpointed notes.

After the first 1500 or so takes of my narration, I got tired of stumbling, bumbling, saying “ummm”, and all those other wonderful aspects of public speaking (I’m fine in front of an audience, just don’t get me in front of a mic), and wrote a quick script. Nothing fancy, just basically what I wanted to get across, in an informal, conversational tone. The total running time of the MP3 (pre-Slideshare syncing)?


Again, this is without stopping for questions, repeating myself for those who didn’t hear, or anything like that, but holy cow – the demands and restrictions put on me by the audio recording forced me to trim this down to at least a quarter of its normal presentation time. I was planning on turning some of my lectures this year into podcasts, but was still a bit hung up on recording a 25-40 minute lecture. I wonder how short I can get THOSE with a little tightening of the script?

In class, I try to deliver material as seemingly “off the cuff” as possible – I know my stuff, and I don’t need or want to read from a script. I think that engages my kids; however, what comes off as stiff in person actually sounds much smoother in recording, and if I do make the leap to podcasts this year, I’ll do so without the trepidation of overly lengthy downloads – with the right script, I’ll probably be able to cover an entire movement in 10-15 minutes. Think about how much class time that’ll free up.

Before I rack out for the night (it’s been a long weekend), I want to give a heartfelt thank you to the folks who’ve visited and left comments so far. As I said before, I really am excited about the communal, collaborative element of blogging, and I’m heartened to know that what I’m putting out there is being seen. Looking forward to continuing the dialogue with all of you, both here and at your places! I have some thoughts on Twitter I’ll be fleshing out here later this week, as well as getting my slidecast up (hopefully).