Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mathcast Central

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I decided to podcast all my classes this semester. The tech at my school is helping me as we try to make this "push button easy." It's not quite there yet -- I'm on a bit of a learning curve. Using a mac has been of tremendous help!

I created a site in iWeb (click a few buttons). It's hosted on my school's server. I record the podcast in GarageBand . Intro and outro music are preselected from the canned list of jingles and placed in advance. Before each class I simply delete the audio track of my voice from the previous class and record a new one in its place. At the end of class I select from the share menu > [Send podcast to iWeb]. (Audio file sizes between 30Mb and 50Mb+ result in this being a little time consuming ... I'm working on this.) In iWeb, from the file menu I select [Publish to Folder]. Then, using Transmit , I copy the contents of that folder to the server. Done. (This sounds more complicated than it is; total steps after recording podcast = 3.)

Using the new Blogger I've added a feed window to the podcasts in the side bar of the class blog . It shows the most recent 5 episodes. 

I was going to do this with all my classes this semester but have scaled back to only one as I learn the mechanics of making this as easy as possible. I'm also intersted in exploring how this practice changes my pedagogy and improves student learning. So far, the greatest impact has been on me.

Publishing everything that I say in class has made me more conscious of what I'm saying and how I'm teaching. Also, knowing that my students (or other members of the audience) wont be able to "see" what I'm talking about has resulted in me restating questions that students ask and being more descriptive about what I'm doing as I'm doing it. After only two classes like this my teaching is more deliberate. I'm also constantly thinking of catchy titles for each episode which makes me situate the content in a larger context -- generally, the history of mathematics as told through stories. ;-)

Another thought: Education researchers often look for classes within which to pursue their investigations. With all my classes online there will be a source of easily accessible raw data for people doing research in mathematics education. I will continue to make this content freely available online. I ask only that if you use it in some other context that you please share back your learning or observations. I'm always on the lookout for ways to improve what I do. I'm still working out some technical glitches like the sound quality. If anyone decides to listen to any of the mathcasts from my class (to be added to iTunes soon) let me know what you think.

On another note, Chris Harbeck shared a new tool with me, writetomyblog. I used it to craft this post (how does it look?). It may be a solution to easily typing some math and other special characters on the web too ... I'm droping a link to it on all my blogs.

10 comments:

Terry said...
6/2/07 16:35  

Great to hear you are podcasting one class. If you get yourself a smartboard you can record your voice as well as all of the notes you write and publish them to the web. Only downside is that the file sizes are hundreds of megabytes.

I obtained a smartboard this fall and have been posting my notes to a wiki. Check out the following wikis to see pdf files of my smartboard notes.

puremath10.pbwiki.com
puremath30.pbwiki.com
appliedmath20.pbwiki.com

Karl Fisch said...
6/2/07 21:40  

Wow! Can you share any details on the recording equipment you are using? Are you wearing some kind of wireless microphone, or do you have something like the Blue Snowball mic plugged into the computer?

Darren said...
6/2/07 22:17  

Hey Terry! Great to hear from you.

I very briefly checked out your wikis, unfortunately some of the links in the puremath10 wiki were broken.

We need to talk. I'm getting a smartboard ... actually, it looks like they went with an interactive whiteboard from Hitachi Software, something called a StarBoard. We're getting a trial period so we can turn it in for a smartboard if that's what we prefer. The hitachi is not touch operated. All interaction is done via a pen and tablet. I kind of like the touch capabilities of the smartboard. What do you think?

And Hello to you too Karl! I've been blogging so infrequently lately that it feels like catching up with old friends. ;-)

The mic is actually a Jabra BT150 bluetooth headset. My tech got it free with his cell phone and loaned it to me to make this project easier to do. I'm not very happy with it. Under the best of conditions it makes me sound like I speak with a lisp. We're looking into a bluetooth lapel mic so that it will better pick up the voices of the students.

What's a "Blue Snowball mic?" Should I be looking into that? Is it bluetooth enabled? This mic is the first bluetooth device I've ever used and while the quality leaves something to be desired I'm really loving bluetooth technology. ;-)

Karl Fisch said...
7/2/07 08:43  

No, a Blue Snowball is a USB microphone, but one that lots of folks have recommended for skyping/podcasting more than one person. We've purchased one to try out, hopefully to connect one of our Language Arts classes to a class in Alabama and/or Korea (depending on how it goes). Definitely not wireless, though.

In my head, I had dismissed Bluetooth for recording "lectures" like you are because I thought the range wouldn't be good enough. I know Bluetooth has improved, but I still didn't think you could get reliable connections past a few feet - which wouldn't work well for walking throughout your classroom. If you get a chance, blog about whatever microphone you end up with.

I know Bud and some other folks use an iRiver, but then I think that might require additional post processing for podcasting? Not sure about that . . .

Ryan Maksymchuk said...
7/2/07 10:20  

Darren...once again, good on you, and thanks for leading the way. We (well, me...) watch from up here in the middle of Manitoba with bated breath... Thanks again, and we'll be watching (and contributing, hopefully)...

I have and use a Sympodium (SMART Board's little brother), and all of my notes have been available for my students on our own LAN for sometime now...hopefully my blogs have incorporated content soon.

I've included a link here to my most active wiki where students are creating solutions to help each other solve 'type-problems' using that Accelerated Math software that I'm using...take it easy, hope your second semester is fun...later...

appliedmath.pbwiki.com/

e said...
7/2/07 19:10  

writetomyblog ate my post, then your blog ate my comment! I have no luck today. Anyway, I do not know if I did something wrong. I'll have to try again.

Leif said...
11/2/07 13:47  

Interesting - I will after having written this short comment have a look at your class blog to get an impression of what kind of podcast you create. My question is: how do the students benefit from you podcasting? What are their reactions? Is it something they listen to while commuting to school? You say you are the one that has learned the most. I guess this is often the case when you prepare a lesson.... (Leif from Norway)

Leif said...
11/2/07 14:36  

I took a quick look at you math podcasts. Have you thought of creativing podcasts that are somewhat more independant of the class you are teaching at the actual moment so that you actually could use it again. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts about this. Greetings from Leif in Norway

eddie said...
16/2/07 09:18  

Mr. Kuropatwa,
I am a fith grade student from Georgia in a Blogical Minds program with my blogging teacher Mrs.C. The way I got to your blog was by Lani informing me about it through a comment. Then when I was commenting back Mrs.C also showed me this extraordinary blog. During that weekend I was flipping through your blogs from the past and the present and I saw your "scribes." Mrs.C thinks that I can be a scribe for our blogging class. Also I want to be a scientist and math takes part in science. I want to specialize in Health,Chemistry,and Marine Biology. In Health you usually have to take a mathmaticl observations of the 14 maridians of the body. I hope many teachers in Georgia start having classes like yours so I can learn what you class is doing.
What is your favorite math subject? You can contact me at itc.blogs.com/mind2

Darren said...
19/2/07 02:14  

Thanks for the link Ryan, there's some good stuff there. ;-)

e: Sometimes blogger gets hiccoughs ... maybe writetomyblog.com does too. ;-)

Leif: Your' questions are good ones. I'm only two weeks in to this experiment right now. I'm going to give it a little more time and then try to capture a class discussion where the students share, in their own words, the answers to your questions. I'll publish it here when I do. As for recording instructional podcasts that can be reused from semester to semester, well, I haven't thought about that in terms of podcasts. I have thought about it in terms of screencasts. Now that my SmartBoard has been installed I'm thinking about it more seriously. I hope to publish at least one such screencast before the end of this school year. Again, when I do, I will publish it here. ;-)

Hi there Eddie! I've read about the blogicians. I haven't had a chance to visit your blogs much but after such a warm invitation I think I'll drop by and give you a proper reply on your own blog. Thanks for visiting mine. ;-)

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