“Exaudio, Comperio, Conloquor”
By the time students graduate from St. John Fisher College, most of them will have strong competencies in comprehending, writing, and presenting. Live presentations in front of the class that tether students to note cards and PowerPoint slides can grow incredibly mundane. Consequently, I look for fresh ways to have them deliver content and demonstrate their mastery of concepts. Developing podcasts offers the instructor a new mode to distribute content and the students a much-needed injection of creativity for demonstrating how well—or how poorly—they have grasped material.
Recently, I’ve begun to create podcasts of my own for students to watch. Podcasts are multimedia digital files that can include elements of video (film clips, slides, photos), audio (voice, sound effects, music), or both. They can be downloaded to a computer, streamed on a tablet, and played through a smartphone. If you’re headed out of town for a conference, your students can listen to your lecture or feedback on their papers while they’re running on the treadmill, eating lunch between classes, or sitting in traffic.
There are numerous free and simple programs to create podcasts, including Echo360 (contact OIT for a short training seminar), GarageBand (available on all Macs), and Audacity (Mac and PC). Often the best way to find the best/simplest/worst programs is to ask the students directly. For instance, one of my students had no idea how to create a podcast, and so she used her cell phone to record her voice and produced one of the class’s best presentations. As Professor Jeremy Sarachan in the Communication/Journalism department has explored, students can record videos directly to YouTube of themselves responding to course readings (our Macs have built-in cameras, or you can either borrow a camera from a videoconferencing kit from OIT or purchase an inexpensive web camera).
As Dr. Charlene Smith of the Wegmans School of Nursing and I discovered in our recent research collaboration, students lack confidence in delivering oral presentations but are more likely to apply what they learned from their ability to review their recorded presentations. They can observe their verbal and nonverbal communication and hone their delivery techniques. Furthermore, by offering podcasts as an alternative for (or a flat-out substitute to) the live oral presentation, I noticed that some of the more reserved students embraced the opportunity to show some personality and creativity in their podcasts.
Here is a podcast created by Brett Vergara ’14 for our COMM 264 – History of TV and Radio class in the Fall 2011 semester. (You may wish to right-click the file below and save it to your desktop to listen.)
As a Mac user, I find GarageBand to be the easiest and most user-friendly program to produce my “Toddcasts,” which I have used to develop tutorials for video production students, edit interviews with remote guest speakers, and record instructions for out-of-class assignments. GarageBand allows the user to record his or her voice and add stock music and sound effects. For instance, let’s say a student is creating a podcast that examines how sport culture has evolved in recent years. In addition to recording her voice (see screengrab below), she might also want to include a sound effect of fans cheering as well as a cinematic score to heighten the emotions of her claims.
A USB podcasting headset with built-in microphone.
In short, making podcasts allows faculty and students to communicate and archive their work more easily. Students can record and review their presentations, and instructors can produce their own lectures and deliver—in their own voice and tone—thorough feedback on student assignments.
Todd Sodano – FisherGeeks – Podcasting Oct. 2012
Right-click this file to save and listen to a podcast of this blog entry.
 This Latin phrase, which translates “To listen, to learn, to speak,” comes from an episode of writer Aaron Sorkin’s first television series, Sports Night (ABC, 1998-2000).
 Smith, C. & Sodano, T. (Nov. 2011): “Integrating Lecture Capture as a Teaching Strategy to Improve Student Presentation Skills Through Self-Assessment” in Active Learning in Higher Education, 12(3).
 Both of which are available through GarageBand and thus permissible for use. However, you may not sell those musical loops (songs, sound effects, etc.).