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Enhancing Audio Podcasts for Online and Mobile Learning

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Chapter podcasts delivered to students through their electronic courses offer promising online and mobile (using iPods or iPhones) learning alternatives that traditional audio podcasts can not easily …

Chapter podcasts delivered to students through their electronic courses offer promising online and mobile (using iPods or iPhones) learning alternatives that traditional audio podcasts can not easily provide. Join me in this session as we review and create chapter podcasts and custom audiobooks, including text-to-speech for assisted learning.


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  • This morning Liz Lawley talked about moving technology off the computer screen to interactive tangible and social devices that are “light on the brain”. iPods, iPhones, and other touch-controlled multipurpose players are examples of such devices and not surprisingly they are popular among all generations. This presentation defines audiobooks and chapter podcasts and demonstrates how these unique resources can enrich online and mobile learning.
  • MP3 audio podcasts are the most prevalent format, although there is an increasing number of video podcasts. An aggregator such as iTunes or Google Reader is required to subscribe to podcasts, which are automatically downloaded to your computer as soon as they are published (and when your PC is turned on and connected to the Internet).
  • We will look at two ways of enhancing podcasts: audiobooks with or without full-text and chapter podcasts that include images timed with audio, chapter markers, and built-in links to web sites. To the left is a a chapter podcast (AKA enhanced podcast). Clicking on a chapter marker jumps to that location in the podcast and displays the associated image. To the right is an example of an iPod touch displaying text while the associated audio plays. These special podcasts offer promising online, assisted, and mobile learning alternatives that traditional audio podcasts do not easily provide. Please note that this presentation does not cover full motion video podcasts.
  • Audiobooks are a collection of spoken-text file in human recordable or computer synthesized format. The format is usually MP3 or AAC (Advanced Audio Encoding) format and can optionally contain a graphics cover, which is usually a JPEG image. In this slide you see a collection of audiobooks displayed with iTunes version 8 grid view. AAC: http://tinyurl.com/99hm4.
  • Audiobooks enhanced with iTunes 8 provide important advantages for readers and listeners. Audiobooks can be organized into a series of lectures, chapters in a book, or related collection of stories. Remembered playback positions allow listeners to return to where they left off in one or more chapters. The speed can be set to slower, normal, or faster when audiobooks are played on iPods or iPhones. Full text added to audiobooks enriches the learning experience by interacting the senses.
  • There are a number of free online resources that provide books in text-only, audio-only, and text-audio combination format. Audio CD’s can be imported into iTunes as a series of MP3 files. iTunes 8 provides tools to easily combine, sort, and identify any related collections into audiobooks, including a series of recorded lectures. Audiobooks can be delivered as podcasts or downloaded as a Zip archive from web sites. Be aware of the copyright implications when distributing audiobooks, especially those purchased commercially.
  • iTunes includes a AAC Encoder Spoken Podcast setting: 32kbps bit rate (mono) and 22.050 kHz sampling rate. The results are lower quality than the recommended settings in this slide, which includes higher bit and sampling rates.
  • After initializing the audio import settings, convert the audio files into MP3 format and add metadata to consistently label your audiobook collections. Common fields such as Album and Album Artist can be changed all at once.
  • New in iTunes 8 are special settings to convert multiple MP3 audio tracks into Audiobooks media type. Settings such as Remember position allow returning to the last position played for each chapter and to skip during music shuffling. By changing all selected tracks to the same Album name and adding artwork, the result is a bundled Audiobook with a book cover. DEMO Heart of Darkness > Import > Tags > Artwork > All at Once > Options.
  • Text to Speech recordings converted to iTunes and mobile devices such as iPods provide multipurpose solutions that are practical, educational, and assistive. Convert news articles on the web and listen to them while exercising or driving. For assistive learners text can be read and listened to at the same time or listened to during long commutes. The Macintosh application iSpeak It used with Leopard’s high quality voice Alex automatically records and transfers text into iTunes. Online apps such as Spokentext are useful for quick access but have limitations.
  • Although the Info tab’s Comments box is limited to the 256 characters, the Lyrics tab can contain full text for Audiobook chapters. Simply copy and paste the text into the Lyrics pane for each track unless special software such as iSpeak It does it for you automatically. DEMO Text from NYTimes Red Meat article > iSpeak It > Tags > Send to iTunes
  • 1. Click the Music button. 2. Choose Audiobooks 3. Click to open your audiobook such as the Heart of Darkness. 4. Click the Chapter that you want to listen to. 5. Tap the screen to toggle between display text and chapter art. 5. Tap the Index button to display all chapters. 6. Tap to choose another chapter and press the Chapter button to return to the play window. Tip! Select all tracks in the audiobook, check the Track box and leave it blank. This will insert the track name (vs. number) in the Audiobook list. DEMO Using iPod Touch
  • A chapter podcast displays still images in time with audio and contains chapter markers for each of the images. When played continuously a chapter podcast is like an audio slideshow but offers much more (see list above). Listeners jump to different chapters in the podcast by choosing the associated image from a list and clicking on available hyperlinks in a slide to open the related web page.
  • Subscribe to chapter podcasts within iTunes for Windows or Mac and then play the audio slides on an iPod Classic, iPod with Video, iPod Touch, or iPhone. Chapter podcasts are saved in .m4a or .m4b format. Although it is possible to create a frame-by-frame video podcast of these images, the file size is much larger and there is significant loss of resolution.
  • Go to http://delicious/sunycit09/ and click the tag enhancingaudiopodcasts to bring up these web sites. Let’s look at an enhanced podcast from American Public Media’s Weekend America. DEMO APM Weekend America Chapter Podcast
  • There are a number of tools to create Chapter Podcasts, most of them available for the Macintosh operating system. Profcast is one of the more popular tools in education that allow instructors to create chapter podcasts from PowerPoint or Keynote (Macintosh only) presentations by recording lectures in sync with the slides. The Windows version of Profcast is in beta and should be ready by the end of the summer.
  • Garageband for Macintosh provides tools to record or import audio in sync with imported images, which works well for a small number of images. However, Garageband is especially useful for editing enhanced podcasts exported from Profcast and adding embedded URL’s.
  • Chapter podcasts can be published through ANGEL Course Syndication or Blackboard Podcasts, a hosted web site set up for podcasting, or iTunes University. Podcast publication on hosted web sites is somewhat involved so let’s look at ANGEL Podcasts …
  • If you are familiar with creating folders and uploading files in ANGEL, then creating a course podcast is straightforward. Click the Lessons tab and choose Add Content > Course Syndication Folder. The Course Syndication title is the podcast name and album title for each episode. The file upload title in the Syndication folder is the podcast episode name. Use iTunes to consistently tag (label) and organize your episodes before uploading them to ANGEL.
  • Students subscribe to ANGEL podcasts by logging on to their course, opening the Podcast (Course Syndication) folder, and clicking the Add to iTunes button. Items last added to ANGEL display at the bottom of the folder list and show up as the most recent iTunes episodes. REVIEW The Course Syndication title is the podcast name and album title for each episode. The file upload title in the Syndication folder is the podcast episode name. DEMO Show how to subscribe to an ANGEL course podcast that includes chapter podcasts.
  • PowerPoint slides converted to video podcasts are a series of continuous frames (roughly 500 per minute) that are highly compressed into mp4 format. The result is lower quality text and images despite the larger file size. Although QuickTime will map chapter markers at the start of each new slide, navigation between slides is not available in iTunes or on portable players. Nevertheless video podcasts provide an interesting alternative that may be preferable depending on how the medium is communicated to listeners.
  • If you are podcasting a series of episodes through RSS, and want to move them from the Podcast to Audiobook Category, then all the files must first be converted into MP3 files (even they are already in MP3 format). Podcasts can not be directly converted to Audibooks using the Media Kind option.
  • Settings for AAC Spoken Podcast. Efficient but the quality is not always the best. Instead choose MP3 Encoder, Stereo Bit Rate = 96 kbps, Sample Rate = 44.100 kHz, and Channels = mono.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Enhancing Audio Podcasts for Online and Mobile Learning Joe Fahs Elmira College SUNY Conference on Instructional Technologies May 2009
    • 2. Supporting Documents  Go to http://mpondu.blogspot.com  Chapter (Enhanced) podcast of this presentation! iTunes for Windows or Mac is required  QuickTime movie of this presentation  Play the Chapter podcast or QuickTime movie on iPhone, iPod Touch, iPod with Video, or iPod Classic.  Slideshare presentation with presenter notes  Link to related web sites: http://delicious.com/sunycit09/enhancingau
    • 3. Audio podcasts  Audio content on the web that you subscribe to, which is delivered to your computer.  Example: American Heart Association
    • 4. Audiobooks and Chapter Podcasts  Audiobooks: with or without full-text  Chapter Podcasts: images timed with audio, chapter markers, and built-in links to web sites
    • 5. Audiobook Basics  Collection of spoken-text files  Human recordable or computer synthesized  Format is usually MP3  Artwork for a unique audiobook cover
    • 6. Reading and Listening Enrichment  Organize chapters or lectures for easy retrieval  Playback position can be remembered for each chapter  Control playback speed on iPods and iPhones  Add full text for multimodal learning.
    • 7. Delivering Audiobooks to Students Resources Delivery  Loudlit.org  Download from ANGEL  Librivox.org or a web site as a Zip  Spokenword.org archive.  Gutenberg.org  Unzip, and add to  Audio CD’s iTunes  Subscribe as podcasts  Recorded but … lectures
    • 8. Voice Import Settings  Choose Preferences > General > Import Settings.  Choose MP3 Encoder, Stereo Bit Rate = 96 kbps, Sample Rate = 44.100 kHz, and Channels = mono.  20 MB per hour of voice recording  Possible to reduce even more
    • 9. Importing Audio Files – iTunes 8  Convert into MP3 format (mono, low bandwidth)  Add metadata (e.g. Name, artist, track, …)
    • 10. Converting to Audiobooks - iTunes 8  Select all related audio files.  Choose File > Get Info and click Yes to edit all at once.  Click the Options tab.  Choose Audiobook, Remember position, and Skip when shuffling. DEMO
    • 11. Text to Speech Software  Macintosh iSpeak It – http://zapptek.com  Windows: FlameReader http://www.flamereader.com  Online  http://spokentext.net/  http://vozme.com
    • 12. Adding Text to Podcasts  Comments limited to 256 characters  Lyrics tab – use for adding full text to your audiobook chapters (lectures, etc.) DEMO
    • 13. How It Works – iPhone/iPod Touch Index 1 5 2 Chapter 3 6 4 DEMO
    • 14. What Are Chapter Podcasts?  Images displayed in time with audio AND  Chapter markers like a DVD movie  Slides can contain links to external web sites  Playable on iPod Touch and iPhone
    • 15. Format and Playback • AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) format • m4a extension • Playback on iTunes Windows or Mac • Playback on newer iPods and iPhones
    • 16. Chapter Podcast Examples  CBC Radio: http://tinyurl.com/bd9d9t  Beethoven’s Greatest Hits: http://tinyurl.com/dy4jvp DEMO  Weekend America: http://tinyurl.com/27w7la  Vu d’ici: http://tinyurl.com/cvq7e3  History of Photography: http://photohistory.jeffcurto.com/
    • 17. Creating Chapter Podcasts  Use Profcast: http://profcast.com for Macintosh to record lectures using PowerPoint or Keynote. Windows version in beta.
    • 18. Garageband  Edit lectures and add links (URL’s) with Garageband for Macintosh.  Send to iTunes
    • 19. Publishing Chapter Podcasts Create an ANGEL course podcast Publish to a hosted web site Add to iTunesU
    • 20. ANGEL Course Podcast Add Content Course Syndication Title and Subtitle  Upload media files  Last added = most recent podcast episode
    • 21. Subscribe to iTunes DEMO  Start iTunes  Click Add to iTunes. 5. Clicks Launch  Application 6. Podcast is  published to  student iTunes  Library
    • 22. Discussion Session  Multimodal Learning  Learning foreign languages  Learning English as a Second Language  Lectures (classroom, presentations, conferences)  Resources for at risk students  Photography slide shows  Audiograms
    • 23. Windows Video Podcasts  Podcast your PowerPoint slides with Snapkast for Windows.  Creates video podcasts  Does not create Chapter podcasts de   vi p4 o m
    • 24. Abstract SUNY CIT 2009: Enhancing Audio Podcasts for Online &Mobile Learning Where: SUNY Oswego When: Thursday, May 21 4:45 - 5:15 pm Lanigan 103  Course management tools such as ANGEL's Course Syndication or Blackboard's Manage Podcast allow instructors to deliver audio-formatted course materials to their students. Although creating, optimizing, and tagging these audio recordings require planning and preparation, the actual process of creating a course podcast requires just a few basic steps. Students subscribe to the podcasts, typically with iTunes, and organize them in their personal music library for listening on their PC or Mac. Subsequently uploaded episodes (recordings) are automatically delivered to iTunes, even if students are not logged into your course.  Audio podcasts are familiar to most everyone; however, enhancing podcasts with timed images, chapter markers, web site links, and text over audio is less well known. Yet these enhanced podcasts offer promising online, assisted, and mobile learning alternatives that traditional audio podcasts do not easily provide. When formatted for mobile learning on devices such as iPods and iPhones, enhanced podcasts and audiobooks engage students in new, unique, and exciting ways.  Join me in this session as we look at and listen to enhanced podcasts and custom audiobooks, including text-to-speech for assisted learning. Software solutions that create these special materials will be demonstrated including converting PowerPoint presentations into audio-enhanced lectures.
    • 25. End of Presentation Appendix slides follow
    • 26. Converting Podcasts to Audiobooks  Podcasts can not be converted to Audiobooks using iTunes Media Kind option.
    • 27. Converting Podcasts to Audiobooks  Select all podcast episodes (chapters, lectures) and choose Create MP3 version. Select the converted files– now located in the Music  Library –apply recommended settings (e.g. Media  Kind = Audiobooks).
    • 28. AAC Spoken Podcast Settings