In the days before the printing press, the only way for a teacher to disseminate ideas was the lecture: teacher talked, students listened, and perhaps some of them learned. With the invention of moveable type and cheap paper came the added possibility of spreading one's word as an article or book. This new technology sparked many teachers to learn to write so that they could take advantage of the new medium. Five hundred years later came the ability to record sound, and an additional means of reaching new audiences. A short while later, video arrived on the scene. Then PowerPoint, then the web site, then the podcast, all in relatively rapid succession. Each new technology provided the teacher with a new channel to reach students. And a new skill to learn.
So today the conscientious teacher might prepare a lecture on the topic of the day, then publish it as an article, and record it as an audio file. Next, create some PowerPoint slides to support the lecture, then create a web site full of information and hyperlinked cross references. And to please the mobile learners, prepare a podcast, preferably with explanatory images.
Each of these formats, of course, requires the teacher to purchase a new set of equipment, learn a new authoring technique, and publish through a different network. Lectern, microphone, keyboard, computer, PowerPoint, video camera, data projector, iMovie, GarageBand, iPod, CD, and DVD take over the faculty offices. Cables, connectors and adaptors snake their way down the corridors of academe.
In preparing my own lectures and publications, including this weekly article, I have learned to consolidate and combine these efforts and technologies in such a way as to allow me to create once, and yet publish in many forms. This article describes a workflow that allows you to take a single idea and develop it simultaneously as a lecture, as a slide show, as an enhanced podcast (which can also play as a video), as plain text, and as illustrated booklet.
Follow these steps.
The best candidates for this workflow are presentations of single ideas or concepts, that might take 15 minutes to deliver as a lecture. If your talks are organized into hour-long pieces, it's wise to break these up into shorter chunks that are easier for your students to work with. The shorter pieces can be sequenced into a longer series if necessary.
If you have not done so already, think through your idea, teach it a few times in the classroom, and discuss it with colleagues. Try a variety of examples and metaphors to see which ones work best. Because you are going to publish as a slide show and as an illustrated podcast, consider visual images and examples for each step, which work well in these formats.
Now that you have developed your idea, and delivered it a few times, write it down. In prose, with complete sentences. This will add some discipline to your talk, and help you economize your words and examples. And also tighten up your organization. Write in the style of a conversation or informal lecture, rather than for a print journal or essay. The same phrases you used in your best oral delivery, with a bit of editing, will work well here.
Write in chunks if you can, a paragraph at a time, with a subhead for each. This works better for the type of multi-mode communication that you are creating. It also helps to provide chapter titles for your podcast, an essential feature for its ease-of-use by students. Edit your writing for style and flow; consult Strunk and White for guidance, rather than the AP, MLA, or APA. Ask a colleague to read it and suggest improvements; a student as well. Read it aloud and make sure it flows in that mode, and can be spoken in 15 minutes or less.
Next you will prepare a slide for each paragraph of the piece you have just written. And as you do this, you will take into consideration the other publishing formats, and prepare your slides accordingly. Here's how to do it:
- Set the slide show for plain white background, 600 pixels wide by 600 pixels high. This is big enough for projection in the lecture hall, yet small and square enough to display well as a podcast on a tiny mobile device. (If you are working on Macintosh, use Keynote instead of PowerPoint; it eases the conversion to other formats later.)
- Set the slide show software to display the notes for each slide. Copy and paste the first paragraph from your writing into the notes area of the first slide; insert a new slide and paste the second paragraph into the notes; and so forth. For now, leave the slides blank.
- Find an image to place on each slide. This should be easy, if you have been thinking visually all along. If you need help with this, read The Power of Images in this series. If you need two images for a contrast or comparison, duplicate the slide with its notes and place the second image on the new slide.
- Don't use builds, animation, or text unless absolutely necessary. These make the conversion to other formats difficult, and often violate the principles of healthy instruction. See PowerPoint Playwright and Power Pointless in this series.
Now deliver this slide show, with oral narration, in the classroom a few times. Print your text and read from it if necessary (but by now you should have it pretty much in memory). Revise as necessary as you learn from this experience.
From the slide show, it's easy to develop your work into a podcast. If your slide-lecture is short, and you want to publish it quickly, Use Method 1, and simply record your narration into the slide show and save it as a podcast; if it's longer, and you want to spend more time making a professional podcast, use Method 2, and make a GarageBand podcast instead.
Method 1: Quick recording. Follow these steps, using Keynote:
- Play the slide show you just created, rehearsing aloud your narration as you go along.
- Get beck into editing mode. From the menubar, choose Record Slideshow.
- Speak your narration in a strong voice, clicking through the slide as as you go along. (You'll see a voice-level meter in the upper left -- keep it at the 75% level for a good recording.)
- At the last slide, click once more and the recording session will end.
- Play your slideshow again, and listen to your narration.
- Repeat steps 2-5 as necessary, until you are satisfied.
- From the menubar, choose Share --> Export, then click the iPod icon.
- Choose Recorded timing. Click the Next button.
- Save your podcast (it will be in QuickTime movie, .mov format).
Now double-click your podcast file to see and hear it. This file can be:
- Distributed through iTunesU to your students.
- Posted to your course on Blackboard or Moodle or other learning management system.
- Copied onto a memory stick or a CD and distributed.
- Copied onto a web server and linked to.
- Sent up to YouTube or TeacherTube or other online video repository.
...and played on your students' computers, iPods, and other devices.
Method 2: Professional Editing with GarageBand. Follow these steps:
- Launch GarageBand, and choose to create a new podcast.
- Move the playhead to the 5 second line.
- Click the red record button at the bottom of the screen, and introduce the podcast: "This is Professor Thomas Hunter from the City University of New York. This podcast is about the influence of Mayan culture on the Inuit tribes of north-eastern Siberia in the 10th century."
- Touch the spacebar to stop the recording. Go back and listen to what you have recorded. Move closer to the microphone and re-record if your voice was too soft.
- Record your narration, one paragraph at a time. Speak with expression, as if you were in conversation with a small group. Delete and re-record each paragraph as necessary.
- Record a short conclusion, so your listeners will know they've reached the end.
- Drag a musical jingle into the beginning of the podcast, at time 0:00. (To see the list of jingles, choose from the menubar Control --> Show Loop Browser, then click Jingles in the list at the upper right.)
- Drag the same jingle into the conclusion. Place it to begin just a few seconds before you say your narrated conclusion.
Now you've got the audio elements completed. Listen to what you've got: an audio podcast. The next step is to enhance it with illustrations.
- Drag the lower-right corner of your GarageBand window to make it as small as possible.
- Open your slide show in Keynote. Make the window as narrow as possible, and drag it to the far right of your display. Like this:
- Drag the thumbnail of your first slide from the Keynote window into the Podcast Track of GarageBand, and place it at time 0:00.
- Drag the thumbnail of your second slide from the Keynote window into the Podcast Track of GarageBand, and place it where it belongs. You may need to listen to your narration, and take note of the time, in order to synchronize the picture with the narration.
- Repeat the step above for all of your slides.
Now you have all your illustrations loaded. Leave no space between your images in the podcast track. To review the synchronization, follow these steps:
- Click the icon in the podcast track selector to open the Podcast Preview window.
- Play the podcast, and watch the images change as it rolls along.
- Adjust the timing of the images by dragging the ends of the images in the podcast track, until you've got it right.
- Optional: You may add chapter titles to your podcast by selecting the podcast track, then choosing from the menubar Control --> Show editor. Enter your chapter titles -- the paragraph subheads from your text -- into the spaces next to each image icon (each new image represents a chapter). These chapter titles show in iTunes, in QuickTime, and on the iPod.
Now you are ready to publish your GarageBand project as a podcast.
- Choose from the menubar Share --> Send podcast to iTunes.
- Watch and wait as it compresses and converts the information. When it's done, it will start playing all by itself in iTunes.
- Optional: In iTunes, you may add a text track to your podcast by choosing from the menubar File --> Get Info --> Lyrics, and then pasting the text you composed earlier into the box. This text will show on the iPod when the user clicks once on the display as the podcast is playing.
Not everyone learns best through lectures and podcasts. You can help them by publishing your work as an illustrated booklet, in PDF form that travels easily over the web. It's a two-step process:
- In Keynote, choose from the menubar Share --> Export --> PDF.
- Choose Slides with notes. Click the Next button to save this to your disk.
This file contains the illustrations and text, page by page, a format that for many students makes learning and review easier. It's a small file, plays on all computers, without special software, and can easily be added to your course on Blackboard, Moodle, or iTunesU.
Want to take it a step further? Publish an online companion to your work, something that students can follow along in the classroom as you speak, or use for review. See Student Companion in this series for ideas and instructions.
Follow this workflow to prepare your presentation once, and publish it in many forms.