Faculty Podcasting Tip Sheet

Podcasting can contribute to your students learning experiences in a number of ways. This Tip Sheet provides tips based on the experiences of UA faculty who have included podcasting in instruction. As with any educational technology, it works best when it is part of your pedagogy. You may find O'Reilly Digital Media's "Ten Tips for Improving Your Podcasts" helpful too.

Why Should I Do This?

There are a number of good reasons. 1) recording one’s lectures can enhance student learning, preparation for tests and other assignments. 2) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines - recording lectures can help level the playing field fro students with a disability. 3)  to reach and challenge your best student. 4) if you create your own podcast, you can supplement course material with real-world experiences,address more complex issues, and suggest additional resources for students to consult. EDUCAUSE's President and CEO, Diana Oblinger, wrote that student learning may also be enabled by the use of cell phones, iPods, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and laptops.

Recording lectures for podcasting

  • Have the recorder's microphone close to you.
  • The recorder will pick up other noise, but usually only noise that is close by. For example, if walking on a wooden or tile surface while lecturing you may pick up the sound of your shoes meeting that surface. If you are wearing a jacket or scarf that brushes against the mic, it likely will record that as a "scratchy" sound.
  • When students ask questions, or when they respond to questions that you pose to the class, try to repeat the question and response so that you capture it on the recording.
  • Put a reminder in your class notes or in your calendar to alert you to change the recorder's batteries after approximately 10 hours so you don't miss recording a lecture because the recorder lost power.
  • Try to transfer your recorded lectures after no more than two sessions. Remember, students with learning disabilities may find following class lectures difficult and will use your lectures to keep up.
  • If you show visuals with your lectures, such as images or Powerpoint slides, post the Powerpoint files to your D2L site, course website, or course blog.
  • If video is captured of your lectures, you can podcast that video if it is converted to MPEG-4; you can convert the audio portion to MP3 and podcast only the audio, if you prefer. Format requirements for iTunes U video: MPEG-4 with H.264 compression, data rate: 256kbits/sec, image size: 320 X 240 or 640 X 480 (currently we recommend 640 X 480), frame rate: 30, key frame: every 24 frames, file extensions: .mp4, .m4v, .mov
  • Remember that your students may request a transcript or a captioned version of your podcasts as a disability-related accommodation. Send an email to the UA's Disability Resources for information.

Lecture capture

The Office of Student Computing Resources manages a server running software called Podcast Producer. With Podcast Producer you work with a simple workflow that enables you to log in to begin recording your lecture and log off when finished. Podcast Producer then automatically processes your lecture and uploads it to your iTunes U site, usually within an hour. Contact Gregory Anderson gka@email.arizona.edu to use this.

Podcasting for break-out sections

  • Record lectures, discussion topics, questions for students to address.
  • Organize students into break-out sections of 10-20 each, led by honors students or grad assistants.

Recording podcasts that complement your course

  • Relate real-world experiences.
  • Podcast summaries of the key points made in the lecture.
  • Add new material rather than repeating what you covered in class.
  • Summarize a point that students may have had trouble understanding in class.
  • Discuss something relevant to the course content. e.g., a report or journal article that you read; research results; remarks of a conference speaker.
  • Suggest a particular topic that your students can Google for more information and invite them to share what they learned in the class discussion forum or course/student blog.
  • Suggest a website that your students can visit for more information and invite them to share what they learned in the class discussion forum or course blog.

Content tips

  • Work from a script, unless you are comfortable speaking extemporaneously.
  • Edit the recorded version to: remove long pauses, mistakes, "ums," coughs, and other unintended sounds.
  • Provide a script whenever one is available to adhere to ADA guidelines. If you have a hearing impaired student or student with a learning disability for whom following the spoken word is difficult, text of the podcast gives them an opportunity to learn with the other students.
  • Consider having your students create podcasts related to course content.

Distance learning tips

  • Podcasts connect students and instructors in ways that text-based communications tools do not.
  • Have students create podcasts part of assignments, summaries of exercises, readings and activities instead of submitting them solely as text documents.
  • Make podcasts that act as presentations to up-coming material. Camtasia Studio, Adobe's Captivate (PC platform) and SnapZ Pro (Mac) do screen capture with voice over. Camtasia Studio and Captivate also interface with Powerpoint enabling recording a voice-over Powerpoint. You can then export the finished project to a format compatible with iTunes.

Hardware & software tips

  • Use a hands-free USB headphone/microphone headset.
  • For PCs: Audacity is free, open source software to use to create your audio and export your recording to an MP3 audio file for use in the podcast. Download a copy at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ Be sure to download and extract the LAME MP3 encoder. It is required for exporting to MP3 in Audacity.
  • Macs: Use GarageBand (included in Apple's iLife suite). You can insert images that display with your audio. Images may include URLs so students can click and go to a website. GarageBand also comes with music and sound clips that are copyright clear and free for your use. Contact the OSCR Multimedia Learning Lab for instructions on using GarageBand.
  • The Office of Instruction & Assessment provides SanDisk digital audio player/recorders to faculty interested in recording a lecture and events for podcasting. These recorders come with an armband and easy to follow instructions.
  • The Office of Student Computing Resources (OSCR) has iPod Nanos with microphones available for loan faculty interested in recording lectures. They come with a lapel mic connected to the microphone attachment and are easy to use. OSCR also provides instructions. You may check one out at OSCR's Multimedia Learning Lab.

sg v. 2.1 10/18/2010