Two years ago in this space, we presented an article entitled 50 Ways to Make a Podcast, in which we suggested many different tools for creating this new form of presentation and education. Alas, many teachers have complained, looking instead for just one way to make a podcast. This week's article is a compromise: three ways to make a podcast, aimed especially at beginners, teachers just embarking on the podcast journey. Method #1 is for those teachers who use a computer running the Windows operating system; methods #2 and #3 are for Mac users. These suggestions are based on my work coaching many faculty members to make their first podcasts.
What is a podcast?
It's really a narrated slide show that's distributed over the World Wide Web and played on a variety of devices, such as the iPad, the iPod, computers, and smartphones. The podcasts most popular these days with students and teachers include visuals, voice, and perhaps music to get their educational points across.
Method #1: ProfCast for Windows
Got Windows? Then try ProfCast, developed by David Chmura, a former faculty tech support person who understands what teachers need. You can download a trial version before you buy it. (There's also a version of ProfCast for Macintosh.)
To make a simple podcast with ProfCast, follow these steps:
1. Build your visuals with PowerPoint, and save the file.
2. Launch ProfCast.
3. Drag the file icon of your PowerPoint into the grey box in the middle of the ProfCast window.
4. Click the red record button in the ProfCast window.
5. Watch PowerPoint display your visuals.
6. Speak your narration as you click through your slides.
7. Click once more after your last slide to get back to ProfCast.
8. Wait and watch as ProfCast completes the recording.
9. Click the Share button in the ProfCast window.
10. Enter a name, and other meta-data for your podcast.
11. Save your podcast.
The podcast you create will be in the standards-based MPEG-4 format, with the .m4a filename extension. On most devices, it will play with iTunes, or other applications that can play MPEG-4 files. Users will see the visuals and hear your voice.
Method #2: Keynote for Macintosh
Got a Mac? Then use Keynote -- Apple's version of PowerPoint -- to make a simple podcast. Follow these steps:
1. Build your visuals as slides in Keynote.
2. Play your slide show, rehearsing your narration as you click through the slides.
3. From the menubar, choose File --> Record Slideshow.
4. Narrate your slide show in a loud, clear voice as you click through the slides.
5. When you get to the end, click once more to end the recording.
6. Play your slide show again, listening to your narration.
7. If you are not happy with what you hear in step 6, then repeat steps 3-6.
8. From the menubar, choose File --> Export --> iPod.
9. Watch as Keynote compresses your slide show into a podcast.
The podcast you create will be in the standards-based MPEG-4 format, with the .m4v or .mov filename extension. On most devices, it will play with iTunes, or other applications that can play MPEG-4 files. Users will see the visuals and hear your voice.
Method #3: GarageBand for Macintosh
Most of the professional producers of podcasts use GarageBand to create their work. It takes some time to learn this powerful tool, but many teachers tell me it produces the best podcasts.
1. Open your slideshow with Keynote. (Keynote can open PowerPoint (.ppt) files directly.)
2. Shrink the Keynote window down so it fills about half the display, on the right.
3. Open GarageBand, and choose to make a new podcast.
4. Shrink the GarageBand window down as far as it will go, on the left.
5. You should be able to see both windows at once. At least parts of both.
6. Look at your first slide in Keynote. Think through your narration for this slide.
7. While you are thinking, drag the thumbnail icon of the first slide from the Keynote window to the podcast track of GarageBand. Drop it there.
8. Drag the image to the far left of the podcast track.
9. Move the playhead to the 5-second mark on the timeline.
10. Select the Male or Female Voice track as appropriate.
11. Click the red Record button at the bottom of the GarageBand window. Speak your narration of the first slide in a friendly but firm voice, a bit folksy, but not too informal. Try to sound like FDR doing a fireside chat, or Walter Cronkite describing the way it is.
12. When you are done narrating the first slide, click the play/stop button (or tap the spacebar).
13. See your narration appear as a blue sound wave in the voice track.
14. Slide the playhead back to the beginning, then play back your piece.
15. Edit or re-record as necessary.
16. Go over to the Keynote window and look at your second slide. Think about what you are going to say.
17. Drag the thumbnail icon of the second slide from the Keynote window to the podcast track in GarageBand. Drop it about one second after where your narration track ends.
18. Move the playhead to the beginning of the second slide.
19. Select the voice track and record the narration of the second slide.
20. Repeat this process for the rest of your slides.
21. Add a musical jingle at the beginning or at the end of your podcast if you like.
To review what you have created as you go along, open the Track Info window, rewind the timeline, and play. When your podcast is finished, choose Share --> Export podcast to disk. The podcast you create will be in the standards-based MPEG-4 format, with the .m4a filename extension. On most devices, it will play with iTunes, or other applications that can play MPEG-4 files. Users will see the visuals and hear your voice.
The new technologies get it to you quicker. They help you find it faster. The GPS in my mobile phone helps me find my way without getting lost. Email saves paper, stamps, time, and fuel for mail trucks. We get our work done with less waste, and perhaps more fun. Technology makes us more productive.
Madonna's most recent melody migrates to the masses in a minute. The time from its recording in the studio to playing in the ears of our students is measured in minutes. Recalls of unsafe toys or automobiles or spinach reach worried consumers in hours, not weeks. Videoconferencing lets my cardiologist review my EKG in real time even if I'm in China. Teachers in France and Boston collaborate over the web to conduct classes for students in Algeria and Malaysia. Today's panoply of choices for sending and receiving messages is unprecedented. Technology helps us communicate with ideas and with each other.
Google is helping the world's greatest university libraries to digitize and index their entire collections, and make them available to us for free. The NOAA has just put all of the nautical charts for U.S. waters online and downloadable to my laptop. Online databases allowed the folks in Woburn Massachusetts to find a heretofore undiscovered link between the location of water wells an incidences of cancer in town. DNA sequencing, all done on computers, is incarcerating criminals and uncovering genetic diseases. The new technologies let us research our way to a better world.
Music, film, radio, television, and newspapers today are all produced on computers. And most are available online. The quality is better, the resolution finer, the colors more accurate. We have more choice of what we can see, where we can hear it, when we can read it. And it costs less. (Much of the media is trash, but it's diverse and cheap trash.) Technology enables us to think and express ideas in whichever of the media works best.
We can all be authors, thanks to technology. While I might need a big company like Pearson to publish my book, I need only a laptop to reach the world with my blog, or persuade the proletariat with my podcast. Everybody I know owns a digital camera and I can see their pictures on Flikr. Any idiot can post a video on YouTube for the world to see, and millions of them have. At the national technology conference for higher education last month in San Antonio, the number one educational trend for 2008 was identified as grassroots video. The new technologies enable more and more of us -- and our students -- to publish their ideas to the world.
And notice that the technologies that enable us to produce, communicate, research, mediate, and publish are for the most part small, flexible, portable, interconnected, and democratic. More so than they have ever been before.Why Technology? Technology is changing the world because its helps us do the work we want to do. Now it is our task as teachers to help us do our work as well -- which is what this series is about.