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Podcasting Maths lectures: how and why? (3 minutes : 2 seconds)

Joel Feinstein (School of Mathematical Sciences).

Kate:
So I understand that you’ve been experimenting with the use of audio podcasting; tell me how that’s gone.

Joel Feinstein, Mathematical Sciences:
That’s right, yes. The University was kind enough to lend me a professional quality mp3 recorder which I’ve been using to make audio podcasts, audio recordings of all of my lectures this semester, and that’s been working quite well.

Kate:
How do you actually practically go about recording yourself?

Joel:
Right, so this professional quality mp3 recorder is not a comfortable device to be carrying around, and with trailing cables and things can be also awkward, so fortunately I’m mostly standing on the spot writing on my tablet PC and so I have the audio equipment on the floor and I’m attached to it by a cable with a mic. I still occasionally have trouble with cables, but apart from that it works very well.

So at the beginning of the lecture I’ve got to get the thing set up, check that the recording level is right (which I can do by looking at a dial to see what sort of level I’m hitting to make sure I’m not too soft or too loud) and that works ok, and it’s got a nice recording pause mode as well so if I do want to stop and say “Ok, we’ll just pause for a minute there”, then I can just carry on after I’ve given people time to think about a particular question, so it’s not just a minute’s silence on the recording.

Kate:
And once you’ve got it recorded, what’s the next step? What do you do, and what do the students do?

Joel:
Ok, well it only records my voice, so if the students ask questions I have to repeat them, or it would have to be obvious from my reply what the question was, otherwise it’s not going to work very well as an audio podcast. So I try to get that right.

What do I do afterwards? Well, it produces this rather big mp3 file, it’s about 20 megabytes for a lecture – I think that’s right; I can’t remember exactly – but anyway, quite big, and so you’ve got to manipulate the big file. Well, I’m not going to get involved in editing it (which would take forever) so I decide it’s going to go on the web exactly as it is. And that’s what I do. On WebCT there is a podcasting uploader tool which means you can upload it straight to the University’s podcasting site and broadcast it from there, which saves the School from having to use any resources on it.

Kate:
And how do the students end up using the podcast, what’s the kind of feedback you’ve had from them this year?

Joel:
The overseas students were very pleased with the podcasts for reasons that I had mentioned before, where they may have missed some of the words I said and they like to be able to listen to it, and other students also like to have the audio podcast going at the same time as well as working through the annotated slides. One student said that they had considered putting it under their pillow over the vacation, hoping that some of it might sink in!

Produced: June 2007, in collaboration with the University's Promoting Enhanced Student Learning (PESL) initiative.

This video available in:
Module design: Podcasting (inclusive teaching)

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