Last week's article examined the concept of audio homework -- brief assignments that students listen to on their iPods or computers. The article provided directions on creating your own simple podcast. This week takes the process a step further, showing you how to add images to your podcast. Next week you'll learn how to make a video podcast.
Most audio homework consists simply of words and music for listening. But the newest iPods can also display pictures, allowing the homework assignment to contain photos, maps, diagrams, and other visual information essential to learning. A podcast with pictures as well as sound is called an enhanced podcast. Such an assignment will play on all computers, Windows or Macintosh, and on all iPods with screens made in the last two years. As you listen to the audio, a series of still images plays in the window.
Think of the possibilities for learning:
- To explain the slope of a line in the equation y = mx + b, a difficult concept for many students, the math teacher presents a series of Cartesian diagrams with various values for m, along with a narration that explains the concept of slope. Equation and diagram appear simultaneously as he/she speaks the explanation.
- To show the growth of the American republic during the 19th century, the history teacher narrates the story of westward settlement -- embedded with contemporary song clips -- as various versions of the map appear, showing the entry of states into the union and the moving center of population.
- To introduce the modern poetry unit, the teacher of English first introduces the three poets as their portraits display, then reads an excerpt from their poems as photos of their childhood and adult living settings show on the screen.
- To introduce new vocabulary words, the French teacher displays a picture representing the word as he speaks it slowly, then another picture of it as he says it in a sentence.
Audio first, pictures second
To make your first enhanced podcast, it's best first to construct an audio podcast, as described in last week's article, Audio Homework. Follow the directions there to create and save a sound experience for your students.
Now listen through your podcast and make note of the types of images that might enhance it. Consider diagrams, photographs, scans, charts, graphs, maps, and drawings, or displays of key words in big letters. All of these can aid in understanding. Make a list of the images you need to enhance this podcast.
Prepare your images
Now prepare your images one by one. There are many ways to do this:
- Find them on the web. In most cases, your use of these images in a podcast for your students is well within the fair use of copyrighted material. On a Macintosh, simply drag the image from your web browser to the iPhoto icon on your dock. On Windows, right-click the image and choose Save image to disk.
- Create them in PowerPoint or Keynote, which many people know how to use. These are especially good for producing diagrams, words, and simple drawings. Create one image on each slide. When you are done, save each slide as a JPEG image, and then put these images into iPhoto (Mac) or My Pictures (Windows).
- Scan them from a book, photograph, or other source. Save the scans to your iPhoto library or MyPictures folder.
- Take snapshots with a digital camera. Connect the camera to your computer, and the snaps will be downloaded into your photo library.
- Take a snapshot with an iSight or built-in video camera. Drag the picture to iPhoto to get it into the library.
- Make a chart with Excel, and then select the chart and copy it. Open TextEdit and paste the chart into it. Save the chart from TextEdit to the Desktop. Drag the icon of the file you just saved onto iPhoto.
The idea here is to get your images into the iPhoto library, whence you will drag them into your podcast. It's best if the images are more or less square; tall, skinny or short, wide images don't display well on the iPod. And make sure they are at least 300 pixels (about four inches) wide so they'll look good on the iPod. Don't worry about exact size or resolution at this point; GarageBand will take care of that for you automatically when you drag the images to your podcast.
Open the audio-only podcast that you created earlier in GarageBand. You'll be dragging your images into the Podcast track at the top. Follow these steps:
- Open the Media Browser by choosing Control --> Show Media Browser from the menubar.
- Click the Photos tab at the top of the Media browser to show your iPhoto Library.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the photos to see the ones you've just added.
- Drag the images from the Media Browser into the Podcast Track, and drop them where you want them to appear.
- Drag as many images as you need into the podcast track.
- Adjust their placement by clicking and dragging their edges in the podcast track.
To see what the enhanced podcast will look like, choose Track --> Show track info from the menubar. This will replace the Media Browser on the right with a Podcast Preview window. Rewind the podcast and play it. You'll see the images displayed in the Preview window as the audio plays.
Publish your work
Your enhanced podcast can be saved and distributed in the same way as an audio podcast. When it's complete, send it to iTunes. From the menubar, choose Share --> Send song to iTunes. This will combine the tracks, compress the data, and save it in a format suitable to the iPod. Then open iTunes, and listen to your new creation. To hear it on your iPod, drag it from the iTunes library to the iPod icon. Eject your iPod, disconnect, and listen. (On the iPod, it will be listed under Songs, not under Podcasts -- that latter category is reserved for online podcasts to which you subscribe through iTunes.)
How do you get this aural assignment onto the iPods and into the ears of your students? You've got several options:
You have taken the second step down the path toward a mine full of MP3 homework.
- Copy it to a USB memory stack and pass it around for copying. (Give it to one student, and they'll find ways to get it to their classmates.)
- Copy it to a recordable CD, and pass that around to the students.
- Copy it to your school's web server, or to your own web site, or to your course in Blackboard or Moodle, and let students download it from there.
- Attach it to an email and send it.
- Send it to iWeb, and post the results to .Mac or to your school's web server. To do this, choose Share --> Send Podcast to iWeb from GarageBand's menubar.
- Copy the podcast to your Public folder, and then turn on Personal File Sharing in the System Preferences --> Sharing. Your students can access your public folder through the local areas network and copy the podcast to their computer.