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Graham Davies

Podcasts

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I have created my first podcast which, if you are in need of a serious laugh, you can hear here (scroll down to the bottom and it's called black death podcast)

This idea definitely has potential. Have you considered asking your students to prepare raps/poems on historical topics?

One possibility is to look at how protest movements have used songs as political propaganda. For example, how would the Chartists have used podcasts or blogs? This could raise all sorts of issues about how new technology could be used to develop political consciousness.

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A technical question, Dan: how are you dealing with the storage of the sound files involved?

The way I'm doing podcasts at the moment involves the creation of about 1 GB of sound files per full-time course per term (that's at a rate of about 2 hours of podcasts per week). If the students were podcasting too, this figure would be many times greater.

Our IT department has managed to get the management to create an 'internal market' for IT services, and their going rate for 1 GB of storage is about 10,000 Swedish kronor (say, 1,000 euros) per year … which is clearly absurd, since you could buy a very large capacity server of your own for that amount of money. I suspect that their policy is going to implode under the pressure of developments …

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Mark Pentleton, whom I have already mentioned in the context of the Partners

in Excellence project elsewhere in this Forum, informs me that a

34-minute podcast can be reduced to no more than 1.9MB without a severe

fall-off in quality. I downloaded one of the Partners in Excellence podcasts

and I can vouch that the quality of the voice recordings is perfectly

acceptable. If you record a human voice at 24kbps and 16.KHz mono it is

completely intelligible and does not take up much space. You can even get

away with  8kbps and 8KHz mono, which is no worse than medium wave radio.

However, recording music is a different matter and nornally requires a higher

bitrate for it to sound acceptable. See:

Partners in Excellence (PiE): A Scottish secndary schools initiative for the promotion of language learning and teaching using ICT. PiE are creating their own series of PodCasts for languages learners, which they refer to as PiECasts: http://www.pie.org.uk

An issue to bear in mind is copyright. Obviously, your texts have to be

original, but if you use background music you may have to pay for it. There

are so-called royalty-free sources of music - "so-called" because this often

means that you may still have to pay a small fee if you use a music recording

on a public website. Look out for Creative Commons licences, which allow you

more leeway: http://creativecommons.org

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