New courses and iPods

My goal of using this summer to write on a semi-daily basis did not go completely as planned. As per usual I had several projects working at the same time and was not able to complete everything before school started. That said, the school year offers something that summertime lacks, routine. With teaching multiple courses, coaching and graduate school I do not expect to be able to write on a daily basis; however I do plan on several articles a week. The majority of my writing will focus less on new technology that I find and more of my ideas and how these ideas work out with such technology in my courses.

This year I am teaching on freshman level English course. This is a new course at our school as it is specifically paired with AP Human Geography, a first time offering at our school. This is the first time that we have offered an AP course at the freshman level. It is exciting to think about the possibilities that will await these freshman who are challenging themselves by taking a college level course. As Ms. Lipscomb, my social studies counterpart in this pairing of courses, stated to one of the classes this week, “Welcome to your freshman year…in college.” It should be a great year.

Another new program for our freshman is our partnership with Apple. Following the lead of several prominent universities, Bishop Dunne Catholic School is issuing iPods to freshman students for academic use. Last year I explored the use of podcasting in my World History courses and I feel that it went well. My ideas for academic use this year include my podcasts, students created podcasts and interviews.

Personally, I will try to podcast several of my lectures. The idea is that students who are absent can review the discussion and not completely miss out on the class experience. I would say that students could review the lecture on their own time, but the realist in me understands that few students will listen to a discussion a second time. Some of these lectures will be recorded prior to class using Audacity and the $15 microphone I purchased at Fry’s Electronics. If you have questions about how to create a podcast see my previous posting. Also check out Eric Langhorst’s posting from the Midwest Summer Institute. I intended on using Belkin’s new iPod recorder to record in class lectures as I pace a lot when I talk; however this will now be delayed by about a week as FedEx dropped the ball.

Not to side track too much, but since I have your attention. Apparently FedEx’s policy on obtaining signatures for purchases that require such confirmation of delivery is a waste of time. FedEx delivered my Belkin recorder yesterday, but someone other than myself or my wife signed for the package. Since no one else lives with us I am not sure who that was, but they signed my name. Afterward someone, presumable the same person who signed for the package, opened the box and stole my new recorded. Thankfully they left the boxes and the packing slip for me the throw in the trash. Apple is investigating and I should receive a replacement in a week. After speaking with FedEx’s customer service representatives I doubt high that I will every use FedEx or purchase a product from anyone who uses FedEx again.

Back on track.

I will also use podcasting to distribute exam review sessions. I spent the past eight months listening to several teacher podcasts to gain ideas. Following the lead of some of these podcasts I will included some type of bonus question within the podcast as an incentive for students. Our students, like most, have a commute to school that provides a perfect opportunity to listen to podcasts.

My students will also be creating podcasts. I plan to have students create audio for some of the presentations in our class. While I recognize that students must become comfortable with presenting in front of an audience, I feel that creating a presentation and performing in front of an audience are two different skills. If we as teachers can isolate these skills, then possibly students will understand the differences and be able to excel at both.

Additionally, interviews and field research is another addition to courses that iPods enable. By using recorders such as the Belkin device I purchased both teachers and students can bring into the classroom the expertise of people who normally do not have the time to present within normal school hours. While I have no specific plans for this, I am keeping my mind open and my eyes lurking.

Finally, let me say that I do not believe that those students who are not issued an iPod will be excluded from this program. In addition to the freshman English course, I am teaching a pair of sophomore English classes and an AP Economics course to seniors. Ninety percent of the students in my classes have internet access at their houses and will be able to take advantage of these podcast. Since iTunes does not allow for transferring of files except to iPods, I will outline some of the other podcatchers in future articles.

In addition to my how to posting on podcasting and the Speaking of History blog there are several articles on educational resource. Make sure that you check out Wesley Fryer’s Moving at the Speed of Creativity.
Enjoy your day,



One Response to New courses and iPods

  1. John Blake says:


    Thanks for reading my post and commenting. After reading your article, I know why the FedEx guy actually carried my Belkin TuneTalk mic to my wife’s school for her to sign the reciept. I got luck. I liked your idea of using the Ipod Video to bring in experts from outside your classroom. Last year, I had a student that lived with her elderly grandmother. I learned late in the school year that her grandmother was a retired professor and lived in Harlem as a young girl. If I has thought about it, I could have gotten her to record a podcast from a conversation with her. Teachers can use this technique to build bridges between school and home. WOW. Now, I would not send my iPod home with my students. However, Miguel Guhlin talks about digital storytelling in his school district and how they bought iAudio U2 devices to check out to students. I noticed on the site that they sell refurbished mp3 players that retail at our Target store for $180.00, for only $89.95. That is almost as cheap as an TuneTalk mic. So, check that out if you want something that does a decent job as a voice recorder. I think our teachers with a mini-grant might be able to justify that over an iPod.

    Also, you asked if I knew a good place to host vodcasts- I love my .MAC account and this is why: the vodcasts or quicktime movies are hosted on their server, and when a parent clicks on the video play button (and if they have Quicktime installed). I have tried to teach my students how to navigate to the Apple site and download and install QT if they computer does not play it. The streaming video is really cool.

    I also have posted student videos on Google Video. I know there are some issues with this, but my students are all over 13 years old, and I never use their full names. We have posted some of these on our school’s homepage– look for the link titled videos. The videos are hosted on Google.

    One more tip about videos. I learned this from Bob Sprankle, in Maine: Burn your podcasts to a cheap CD as mp3 files! Let the students take them home and share them in the family car, on a cheap CD player, or even their Sony Playstations.

    I just learned about a company called VoiceIndigo. This could really be the best way for teachers to share podcasts with parents, and students yet. Not all our families have high speed internet, but they all have cell phones. I have not invesigated this completely, and I am not sure what it costs to download the podcast and plan to test it soon. It this works, parents and students could use their cell phones to listen to podcasts, not even need a computer, iPod, or CD player. Technology is changing so fast. Hard to keep up. Hope this helps.

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