Monday, August 3, 2009

Podcasting for LLN - a taster session

Vickel Narayan and I ran a 1 hour workshop (with Yong Liu as invaluable support) at the LLN symposium at Unitec NZ on 15th July 2009. The abstract for the session was: "Ongoing results from the field indicate that using multimedia with learners can be highly effective, especially where LLN challenges are being faced. Have you considered using audio tools? Would you like to try podcasting? In this 1 hour session you will find out how to adapt existing resources to audio, record in a digital format, and make the resulting files easily available to students as podcasts. You will need to bring print material (about 1-2 pages of text) which you have found students have found challenging in the past."

It was a little frantic during the setting up as we arrived 1/2 an hour early to get all of the laptops set up (with headphones that we'd begged, stolen and borrowed - mainly Vickel). A compromise was reached and the 26 participants rolled up. We had set up a Ning ( for the session with resources participants could access after the 'taster' workshop. We had also set up a Podomatic site so that podcasts could easily be uploaded ( After introducing the session and showing a great short video that explained what podcasts are (, we asked everyone to work in pairs at a computer. We used a 'how to...' video that went over the basics of recording an audio file in Audacity, exporting it, and then uploading it to Podomatic.

There were some glitches, but on the whole everything went smoothly and everyone enthusiastically figured out what to do. Toward the end of the session we played a successful podcast that had been made and uploaded during the session. It seemed to go really well and people seemed to be pretty inspired.

The feedback for the session was mainly positive. People were excited by the possibilities and potential for LLN, and others had a real sense of achievement, mastering skills that they did not previously have. The hands on nature of the session was appreciated, although the very large number of participants who had been signed up meant that even with Vickel, Yong and myself, it was tricky to keep up with requests for assistance. The ideal size of sessions like this is around 10 participants maximum. Some people were frustrated by technical glitches (for instance the Podomatic site ground almost to a halt once 15 sets of people started to upload the same account. This meant that some people were not able to listen to their podcast during the session, but had a link and login details in the Ning so that they could have a listen later - not quite the same though). All in all, though, an invigorating and exhausting session! :-)

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