Archives For podcasting

We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished. Much of what we’ve pioneered in the past ten years is now commonplace. Our goal was to make it easy for others to produce audio recordings of events and make them available to the world for free. That’s now the norm. We have succeeded.

We’ve helped event producers and podcasters to create and publish programs themselves, and increasingly that’s what they’re doing. There simply isn’t as great a need for a service like The Conversations Network. So we’ve decided to complete our mission by helping our remaining partners continue their podcasts on their own websites.

Doug Kaye, of IT Conversations fame, announced last Sunday that The Conversations Network had accomplished its mission and will be shuttered this December.

It would be difficult to overstate Doug’s influence on the podcast medium over the last decade and 3,300+ podcasts. I’ve listened to hundreds of them myself. IT Conversations was an enormous source of professional development for me as I started my work in educational technology leadership seven years ago, commuting two hours a day and absorbing as much as I could from the amazing conferences IT Conversations covered. It was just what I needed at the time.

Once I started listening to IT Conversations it was only a matter of time before I had to try it myself. The Savvy Technologist Podcast started in June, 2005, and Doug’s influence was apparent from the beginning. I’m pretty proud of most of those episodes, and I copiedlearned almost everything I know about podcasting from IT Conversations. (Doug’s “Secret Lives of MP3 Files” presentation alone was worth the price of admission.)

I stopped doing my own podcast once I started producing Apple’s Conference Connections podcast. (Although I still have copies of all of those episodes, I fear they’ve disappeared off the web.) Those were inspired even more directly by IT Conversations. In fact, I always considered that series “IT Conversations for the ed tech crowd.”

While I’m personally sad to see it come to an end, it’s clear that the original vision of IT Conversations has been accomplished. So thanks, Doug. You have contributed mightily to my development as a leader and a technologist. I wish you the best in your new career as a photographer. I owe you a beer… or two. Maybe more.

I did a 45-minute podcasting presentation at MEMO yesterday which focused on some of the practical aspects of podcasting. One of the things we talked a bit about was equipment for video podcasting. (I really don’t like the “vodcasting” or “vlogging” name.) I’m thinking about starting a video podcast, so I picked up the following gear to enable me to use my high-quality microphones with a low-end camera.

  • Canon ZR800 ($200) is low-cost camcorder that records onto DV tape. Canon has always provided a low-end camera with an audio input primarily intended for the education market. The audio input is key. Without it, you’re stuck using the relatively sucky built-in mic.
  • Studio 1 Productions XLR-BP Pro ($180) XLR microphone adaptor. The Canon ZR800 audio input is a 3.5-mm miniplug which means that it will be almost impossible to find a decent microphone to plug in directly. This adaptor makes it possible to use standard XLR microphones with the ZR800’s audio input. It has two XLR inputs plus a miniplug and a ¼" plug. You can mix and match any two of these input simultaneously. It’s got a clip on the back that makes it easy to hang it from your belt or attach it to a tripod.
  • ARTcessories Phantom II ($60) phantom power supply will deliver the phantom power you need to use condenser mics. I got this model because it’s battery powered and thus more friendly to mobile applications. If you’re using dynamic mics then you wouldn’t need this box. Most good lavalier microphones (aka lapel mics) are condenser mics that need the 48V phantom power.

We talked about microphones, and I recommended USB headset microphones like this Logitech model for student use. The beauty of a headset microphone is that once the proper levels are set, the student can move around and not change the distance to the mic. You’ll get much more even sound levels than with a microphone on a stand.

The crew at Mashable put together a really useful post entitled Podcasting Toolbox: 70+ Podcasting Tools and Resources last July. I get a lot of questions about the production and publication side of podcasting, and I’ve started sending people to that list because it’s really a comprehensive collection of all the web-based tools and services out there.

I’ll be at the MEMO conference tomorrow participating as a panelist talking about literacy (moderated by the Blue Skunk himself) and later doing an advanced podcasting session where I’ll probably do a lot of Q&A. I’ll do my best to post some summaries here.

Joe Morelock and I are presenting a podcasting workshop at this year’s NECC. Here are some links to various things we mentioned:

Podcast examples

Equipment

Copyright

I’ll update some more after this afternoon’s session.

If you want to catch a lot of great content from this year’s NECC, make sure you subscribe to Conference Connections. This is the podcast channel that has taken all my attention away from my own podcasting for the past 6–9 months or so. I’m really stoked that we’re the official podcast channel for ISTE. We’ll be recording at least 25 sessions (including the keynotes) plus as much other content as we can assemble.

If you can’t make it to NECC, or even if you want to expand your NECC experience, you can subscribe to Conference Connections in iTunes by clicking here.

Spread the word. Tell your friends. Heck, you can even tell people you don’t like all that much.

NECC here I come

20 Jun 2007

7:16 a.m. Ugh. That’s a bit earlier than I like for air travel departures. But at least I have several days of interesting conversations and endless audio editing to look forward to.

NECC is back and in Atlanta this year. I’ll be doing two identical half-day workshops (Podcasting—The New Voice for Learners) with a fellow ADE and all-around cool guy Joe Morelock from Oregon. In addition, I’m leading a team of Apple Distinguished Educators who will be producing the official NECC podcast channel on behalf of ISTE.

I’m really looking forward to NECC this year. Every year there are more friends to meet and greet. I’m very impressed with how ISTE continues to embrace blogging, podcasting, and other forms of web publishing. ISTE is really way out in front on this stuff compared to any other conference I’ve attended in the last couple years. They’re even getting on board with a systematic approach to Technorati tagging courtesy of Steve Hargadon.

See you there.

HirePodder screenshot

I’m a pretty sneaky guy, and I believe in the power of leaders leading with technology. So when our Director of H.R. asked me if I had any ideas about how we could streamline the process of recording applicant interviews, I thought it was a great opportunity to get the rest of the administrators podcasting.

So we bought a bunch of 30GB iPods with Griffin iTalk microphones for the principals and district administrators. We use a very structured interview process which ensures that the administrators can trust one another’s evaluations. That means that one elementary principal can interview a candidate and put that person’s interview recording into a pool that all the other elementary schools can draw from. The whole process goes like this:

  1. Record (it’s a one-click operation with the iTalk)
  2. Connect the iPod to the computer and transfer the WAV file
  3. Compress the interview to MP3 format
  4. Upload the file to a special area of one of our servers
  5. Subscribe to a podcast feed that delivers all of the interviews for a given licensure area

No more sending cassette tapes around the district. Everything is password protected to ensure that only authorized people can upload or subscribe to interview podcast feeds.

I told my colleagues that I was treating this like a gateway drug to get them hooked on podcasting and digital media in general. How cool would it be for principals to be the ones on the frontier leading the charge for innovative uses of technology in the classroom? With a totally new web site going live in the fall (more on that later), I’ve challenged each of them to blog and podcast regularly next year. And wouldn’t you know that the iPod and iTalk mic each of them has makes a perfect little podcast recording platform. Sneaky aren’t I?

I’m working on a new podcasting project that I’m excited about. “Conference Connections” is a new podcast channel hosted at the Apple Learning Interchange. I’m at FETC in Orlando right now getting ready to record sessions and other interviews from the conference. I’ll be at TCEA in Austin, TX in a couple weeks doing the same thing there.

The Conference Connections page at ALI has all the information about the channel including a chance to rate each episode and leave comments. Our goal is to capture some of the best content from ed tech conference throughout the year. I’m thinking of it as IT Conversations for the ed tech market.

Here’s the RSS URL for the podcast. Click here to see the podcast info and subscribe in iTunes. I hope you’ll give the podcast a listen and that you’ll find something really interesting.