Archive for the 'Podcasting' Category

Media-rich can = learning bonanza (so can teaching from the child’s environment)

I tend to learn better and have things sink in deeper when I see real-live examples of things. Call that a failing of my generational learning style.

Now, I happened to wander over to Allanah K’s podomatic site, and I was able to see some examples of students learning using web media such as podcasting and blogging that were inspirational. It’s really nice to see children being stimulated to learn or even apply what they learn. They are being encouraged to engage in web media-rich environment and even reach out to people all over the globe, and therefore learn from them. I believe in America we are so bent on teaching to tests (due to political influences and the obsessive desire to quantify learning via numbers and stats) that it’s difficult for teachers to have the freedom or ability to use new media to teach.

I recently debated with a boomer member of our family over the need for students to learn the old-way… the rote way at our “4th of July” gathering. He insisted that the reason why they pushed the testing is because of the experimental failures in education during the 70’s and 80’s. So we need to make sure that student’s learn the basics. I replied “…and then what…?” I said, failure aside, the testing is doing more harm than good because you don’t have rich curriculum which creates a learner who can successfully think or think creatively.

Being creative isn’t just about being spontaneous and helter-skelter. It’s not just about being free-form and spirited and unconventional. Being truly creative requires discipline. But we can’t even begin to marry the connection between discipline and creativity when we are teaching to tests. I love to learn, and sometimes I have to push myself a little harder in the motivation area than say a seven year old, but I realize that if I don’t put my 2-3 hours a week of learning Flash Action-scripting, I’m never going to be able to make the things I covet on other people’s websites. (Though I may never make them perfectly, at least I’ll understand what went into making them). If I learn from others and try to apply what they learned, I may make something good or I might help myself and others make connections into what they wouldn’t have seen on their own.

If the US wishes to truly take advantage of the creative economy we are really going to have to get our butt into gear and make sure our children are learning to be creative, and think creatively. More we have to wash ourselves of this notion that creativity is for ‘free-spirited’ social anomalies. My greatest fear that this drive to test will continue to hinder us. Testing was there when I was in school and I fear it will always be there, but I suspect that over the decades schools and districts have learned to “duke their stats” in order to survive. That’s human nature – play the game (and cheat at it if you must) in order to win/survive.

An excellent example of a school applying Web 2.0

Wonderful stuff! A New Zealand teacher, Allanah King, explains her and her classroom/school’s journey through the world of web 2.0 (social tagging, blogging and podcasting).

It’s just a reminder of how rich learning can be with technology and using the web. Now how could the powers that be choose to limit this? In this example, each classroom had a blog and students could post news and responses to what they were learning about. A natural network of collaboration was set up because students could post comments to each other’s blog postings.

I love how the students got to watch the Clustermap of their blog to see who was looking at their site. It would be a great segue into a geography lesson.

Download: Posted by AllanahK at

Great guidline for creating podcasts using Captivate

Silke Fleischer authored a great article on using Captivate for creating podcasting. The article provides great tips including recording screen size settings and how to help viewers see mouseover cues when you are creating a software demo. I have tried using SoThink software for converting .swf files created in Captivate to podcasting format. It works pretty seamlessly.

A couple things to remember when developing for podcasting with Captivate:

  • Remember not to use click boxes, input, or anything which requires end user interactivity. After podcasting is suited for lecturing format
  • Record your audio files separately using Audacity or another audio recording device. You may be able to reduce the file size of your output
  • Stick to creating visual podcasting content in small chunks again Captivate tends to create hefty files.

Mobile learning: Adobe Captivate content on video iPod devices

Choosing/Designing great interactivities for e-Learning

Lately, I’ve been challenged to think of better and sensible ways of bringing learning experiences to people online. I found some great resources recently for designing great e-Learning taking into consideration proper learning intervention selection (instructional design) and web accessibility.

From my past experience, it’s always been good to start with Gagne’s Nine Events for learning. The link below provides a good example of how to apply Gagne’s Nine Events to an e-Learning.

For me one of the greatest challenges I’m facing is translating or explaining what’s possible and feasible for online training to folks who are primarily focused on designing face to face training or for people who are used to authoring learning materials for the printed page. I started brainstorming some additional possibilities to add on to the Gagne Nine for eLearning. It’s just a start… I’d like to think that there are additional possibilities and we can stretch our imagination to see what’s really possible. If we really want to help ourselves out we should start by looking at how people learn naturally first. Then look at what people are actually doing today in the real-world with the help of technology. Again, it’s all about making connections.


I actually was able to post a “handy decoder ring” or matrix of possibilities for online learning solutions. It’s not complete or comprehensive, but it’s a start.

Gagne’s Nine Events

Possible solutions/applications

1. Gain attention
  • Story
  • Flash/Captivate visual
  • Video story or scenario
  • Animation
  • Cartoon
2. Inform learners of objectives
  • Presentation slide with audio clip
  • Avatar relating course objectives
  • Video cast or podcast of instructor introducing the objectives
3.Stimulate recall of prior learning
  • Captivate, wiki page or blog for course (asking participants to post their own experience regarding the subject/topic being treated)
  • Students post brief podcasts
4. Present the content
  • Audio visual presentation (Flash/Captivate)
5. Provide “learning guidance”
  • Synchronous meeting online (Adobe Connect, Elluminate) including speaker/participant access to audio sharing/microphone.
  • Use of online chat for “Office Hours.”
  • Question and answer/discussion thread
6. Elicit performance (practice)
  • Captivate performance based test
  • Discussion thread
7. Provide feedback
  • Synchronous meeting online
  • Wiki/blog where instructor and peers can post comments to students work
8. Assess performance
  • Interactive quiz or test
  • Self-survey or assessment or skills
9. Enhance retention and transfer to the job
  • E-Portfolio or project either individual or group work. Portfolio judged by instructor.
  • Students build blog site and interact with live responses

Excellent summary of Learning 2.0 offerings

Haza has provided a terrific summary of what Web 2.0. offerings (blogs, wikis, podcasting, rss feeds, etc.) can bring to an informal and more democratic learning solutions.

It occurs to me often that within a learning environment that cherishes and values the ‘formal’ training experience, it’s very difficult to get people to understand or embrace these concepts and how they apply to learning:  democratic and informal.

I believe that the difficulty comes from a number of assumptions and values that have been built around the way “learning should happen.” Some of these assumptions aren’t just corporate learning environment related, their origins link back into the world of academia.  Part of my training in college was to determine what the causes of argument against a position were and then attempt to correct or reverse them. For now I only have the time to list a few here so I will start with two. Also, I’d like to save my counter argument against these for another post.

  • Democracy in learning –  assumption that countersThe teacher/instructor or expert is the center of the learning environment – not the Student or end user.
    • The teacher is the boss and must run the show
    • The learner/student must be passive and just soak information in rather than learn it actively
    • Only experts can provide this information not peers
  • Informal learning- assumption that counters- You cannot measure or track informal learning. In corporate training much of our focus has been on evaluation, we must be able to measure that we’re doing our job and that learning is happening. 
    • This is why we do Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, etc. evaluations
    • This is why we count butts in seats or how many courses/learning interventions we do*
    • Informal learning maybe be harder to evaluate for performance success (except if you are attributing all performance behaviors to the informal learning environment that you’ve set  up – i.e. performance behaviors are happening…. period)

I also have a hunch that the very nature of corporate life implies ‘the formal.’  Naturally, saying things are informal or even organic may go counter to the corporate grain.  Jay Cross notes that his message about “informal learning” found either a hot or cold reception from the audience at the ASTD TechKnowledge conference.

I believe that its worth exploring the application of the “informal” and “democratic” to learning environments. However, I think we need to understand why these same concepts may not be adopted by members “the Body.”   Jay Cross draws the analogy of application of “informal learning” as being similar to landscaping a garden.   I’m going to draw out this analogy a little further and suggest that some of the counter-assumptions against the informal/democratic development of learning environments are rocks or items in the garden.  As a gardener you can do one of two things:

  1. Pull the rocks out
  2. If the rocks are too big, build your landscape around them (or overcome the rocks)


* Which by the way can be part of the problem if we are creating training just to create training.  This is often not an intentional move, but sometimes an unintended consequence if your system rewards you for accomplishing things by the number rather than by the actual effect or effect on quality

Favorite Podcasts

I’m really pleased with my iPod purchase from earlier last year.  I confess, I actually don’t use it so much to keep my music. I use it more as a learning and entertainment tool.  I’m rather protective of my podspace.  Also, I don’t have all day to wait for the darn thing to update. This morning I spent some serious time cleaning out my podcast aggregator feeds.

I’ve actually created two categories for my podcasts

  1. Watch or listen to them now– Stuff for entertainment, better to listen to them right away and then remove them from the podcatcher rather than load them into the ipod.  Also, I’d rather scan through the video podcasts from my desktop or laptop first than just upload them to the ipod. They take up too much space. Also, obviously, you can’t multitask when you’re watching video on the ipod.  I could see the video feature being somewhat attractive if I had a daily commute that was about 1 hour long.  Though, honestly, I still see potential in the video pod format for learning and communication by sending animated presentations via video podcast. 
  2. Save for later – Generally I listen to these while I’m doing household tasks or walking the dog, etc.  Almost as great as books on tape.

Save for later podcasts

  • Nova –  Science Now  (Podcast Link) – Science nuggets for all to enjoy
  • Killer Innovations– Phil McKinney’s podcast with good coaching and methods on building innovative teams and work environments.  He’s entertaining and refreshing to listen to on top of that
  • Smart City with Carol Colletta  (Podcast Link) – Interesting stories and features on urban development. On of the more noteble ones was on “The Potential of Creative Industries” (8/31/2006)
  • The Works with John Moe – This is one of my favorites, started listening to it when I first got my iPod and found that it has the staying power to stay in my pod queue. Features on business, tech, and entrepeneurs from the Seattle area, but it was the first place I actually learned and heard about “The Long Tail” and it’s implications for marketing and selling from the web.
  • HBR -Ideacast – Reviews some of the featured articles from Harvard Business Review.  Nice, if you can’t afford the subscription.
  • KCRW’s Martinishot (with Rob Long) – I don’t work in Hollywood, thank, God!, but Rob long humorously reminds me why

Watch or listen to right away

  • Podcast Salad– good place to start learning about interesting or featured podcasts
  • The 10– podcast from Microsoft. Good sharing on techtrends and tech events
  • NPR’s Pop Culture – entertaining pop culture stories including more recently a real interview with Sacha Baron Cohen.

Why Podcast?

Created this presentation to present to my own group. Please feel free to leverage any of the information I’ve gathered here if you are sharing or trying to convince people within your organization to adopt podcasting as a communication, change management or learning format.

Click on the image to view the presentation

How to convert SWFs into podcastable format


I was finally able to meet with limited success.  Success was limited because I wasn’t able to find out how to complete the task for free or with free-ware that didn’t paste that irritating reminder/logo to register/pay for the software.  I’m sure there’s a free version or opensource version of a SWF -> Podcast conversion tool; however, the shareware sites and ad-redirects are obscuring a clear path to these places and I’m just not geeky or savvy enough to find them.

I did discover that SoThink does offer software for about $65 dollars that converts both the SWF and audio into either .avi or MPEG4 (Quicktime movie).

One thing I would recommend before you even start creating those SWF’s is to make sure that your stage is proportional to the viewing output on most MP3/Video players and your text or graphics are easily readable on such a tiny little stage. The Videogrunt site has a pretty good resource on learning about video format.


One company’s way of leveraging Web 2.0/Learning 2.0 Tech

Love this! Check it out:

 This group is rewarding their employees for exploring uses of Web 2.0 technology. Way to go! They started this initiative in August.  And their exploration areas included:

  • Blogging
  • Photo-sharing
  • Mash ups
  • RSS feeds
  • Tagging
  • Folksonomies
  • Wikis
  • Podcasting and Videopodcasting

I love how the kicked off the initiative by having life-long learners share their philosophies and techniques. This gives me hope.

Plea for help: Anyone able to convert .swf files with audio to MPEG format?

Anyone? Anyone?  Are their any shareware tools for conversion that actually work?

A colleague and myself tried using a video conversion tool called Squeeze.  Looks like it’s possible just to do the video without the sound using some conversion tools.

On a related note, I found that it is possble to create a podcast with a slideshow. A Google search did lead me to instructions on Make magazine’s website on how to create “enhanced podcasts,” but unfortunately it looks like I have to own a Mac to use this technique.  Though I’ve been considering it lately… maybe making my second computer an Apple.


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