eLatin eGreek eLearn

More wired than a Roman Internet café

Enhanced podcasts, podBooks, and GPS phone scavenger hunts

Most educators who create podcasts usually create them in one of two formats: audio-only or video. While these can be useful tools for a short lesson on Catullus 64 or for diagramming the first two lines of Cicero's First Catalinarian, the podcasts are usually a single track and can, at times, stretch to an hour or more. Not that there's anything wrong with that -- far from it. We have a number of members here who confess to jamming to their favorite podcast while taking their morning constitutional (read as "walk", people), perhaps filling their 60-minute amble with the soft, soothing sounds of NPR.

For some teachers, however, the podcast does have more potential which allows one to merge audio, images, and even chapter-breaks (like on a DVD) into a single podcast tailored for eLearning. As a primer on the subject of enhanced podcasts, click here to read a summary on the subject by About.com's John C. Havens.

Instead of reinventing the enhanced podcast wheel here, let me direct you to a couple of great, on-line, oft-cited sources for creating such a beast. By far the best tutorial out there was written for MAKE by Phillip Torrone and can be found here. Don't worry about the length -- there are plenty of illustrations to help you work through his easy-to-follow, bullet-pointed documentation. Until recently, only Mac users could create this type of podcast. Now, Windows-based users can create their own enhanced podcasts using something called Windows Media File Editor. For a brief tutorial on how to download and use this tool, click here.

For those of you (and your students) who don't have iPods (or other MP3 players) but do have mobile phones with the ability to play color video, you can broadcast your enhanced podcasts to mobile phones. Click here for more information on how to make the transfer to mobile phones via MMS messages or J2ME Midlets.

I know how much some of you enjoy assigning summer reading, so here's a great educational blog (grades K-12) that further clarifies hand-held platforms that can be used to deliver educational content. Take a gander and then start dreaming about creating a GPS scavenger hunt game for your archaeology class that includes audio and image hints matched with a set of coordinates for your student teams to locate and document. Imagine creating a podBook, an eBook for the iPod with chapters, art, maps, and more, that collects your notes, graphics, and maybe even PowerPoint slides -- upload the podBook to your Moodle site for students who miss class or who want to get ahead.

Let me know if some of you are creating any of the above examples of new media so we can share them with the group and the rest of the world! The goal is to present quality content that students will want to learn via technology many of them already know and use for fun.


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