iPods & Podcasting in Higher Ed Bibliography

I’m participating in several projects at the moment which are centred around using podcasts and/or iPods in higher education. To gather resources for these projects, I’ve set up a wiki page entitled “iPod Use & Podcasting in Higher Education: An Initial Select Bibliography“.  Can I invite anyone who has any suggestions to either add them to the wiki yourself, or to email them to me.

I intend to leave this resource online indefinitely, so if anyone else wishes to expand it and use it for their own purposes, please feel free.

iPodium: Student Podcasting and Participatory Pedagogies

I’m back in Perth after spending most of last week at the Internet Research 7.0: Internet Convergences conference which was held by the Association of Internet Researchers. It was a great conference and I heard some thought-provoking papers (which I’ll write more about in a day or two when time permits). The “Participatory Pedagogies: Convergence and the Extended Blogosphere” panel I was part of when well despite James Farmer sadly being unable to contribute as originally planned. Adrian Miles and I ended up with a whole panel which actually worked pretty well since his paper, “Networked Knowledge Objects (videographic pedagogy for new knowledges)”, and mine shared a lot of ground, with my focus on podcasting and audio, and his on video more broadly. Partially to record the event, and partially to test the new Belkin TuneTalk microphone for my iPod, I’ve created an mp3 recording of my talk. I’ll be writing up the paper on which the talk was based, but as I’ll be making some changes based on feedback at the conference, that’ll probably take a little to appear. For those interested, for now feel free to listen to a recording of my talk along with the powerpoint slides …


The term podcasting is a combination of ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast’ and describes type of syndicated digital audio that results in automatically downloadable files which are playable in portable media devices, such as (but not limited to) the iPod. Podcasting has proven extremely popular in the last year and a half, with many online citizens creating their own regular online audio shows. Australian universities have been making lectures available as streaming audio for some years now, but with learners anchored to a computer in order to listen. Podcasting has also allowed students to take lectures and other audio wherever they go, but this ‘coursecasting’ or ‘profcasting’ model still relies on the top-down structure of lectures as academic content for student’s to consume. However, in The University of Western Australia’s Communication Studies course, in an honours-level unit ‘iGeneration: Digital Communication and Participatory Culture’ the tables have been turned somewhat and students are also podcasting in the tertiary setting. For their major assignments, students were asked to create an innovative audio podcast which engaged with the notion of participatory culture and the results ranged from a ‘pod play’ in the style 1930s RKO radio theatre to an alternative commentary for a Simpsons episode focusing on consumer culture and intertextuality. These podcasts are also cultural output themselves – they will remain downloadable indefinitely, allowing students to use them in future ePortfolios and also providing a resource (or entertainment) for others. Moreover, the same system which enables the creation of streaming and podcasted lectures, the iLecture or Lectopia system, is also been used to host and deliver student podcasts; in effect, students are stepping up to their own iPodium. With student’s having an opportunity utilise the iPodium, student podcasting acts as something of a leveling process, allowing two-way street for teaching and learning.

Extrapolating from the iGeneration experience, this paper argues that student podcasting can be usefully situated as part of a broader range of emerging participatory pedagogies wherein the socially-emergent tools and modes of participatory culture allow a more meaningful traffic between tertiary settings and the broader community. For students, podcasting can be far more than a content-delivery mechanism; it can be part of their ongoing participation in knowledge communities in both tertiary settings and beyond. Student podcasting also levels the playing field in relation to ideas of content-creation and can be part of the processes of helping learners develop the tools of cultural interaction, not just consumption, which are increasingly an essential part of digital literacy. This paper also focuses on student podcasting as something which can easily take place without reliance on institutional infrastructures. As such, student podcasting blurs the boundaries of formal educational settings and points to digitally enabled learning and teaching modes which link educational and social spaces via a nexus of creation, discussion and interaction enabled by digital tools and technologies.

The presentation: mp3 recording (with many other formats available); and the powerpoint slides.

The podcast and powerpoint slides are hosted by the Internet Archive using a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license.

Feedback is most welcome!

[Cross-posted from Ponderance.]

Is the new iPod Nano as good (or better) a podcasting recorder as the iPod with Video?

Over at the iLounge, they’ve pointed out that the new iPod Nanos now support podcasting and work with the existing iPod Video microphone accessories.  With a flash drive rather than a mechanical hard drive, these devices use a lot less power to record and thus may actually last a lot longer in recording mode (no moving parts versus continual spinning of the hard-drive in the full-sized devices)!  As you can see, they don’t exactly look pretty with the microphones, but they do work …

… and Nano-sized microphones may just be around the corner (although, after the delay on the last Video iPod Mics, I’m not exactly betting on it!).  [Via Steve Rubel]

XTremeMac MicroMemo 5G Video iPod Microphone Evaluation

XtremeMac MicroMemo Microphone Plugin for iPod VideoWay back in November last year I got excited about the prospect of the increased recording quality allowed by the software in the (then) new 5G Video iPods. With three different microphone plugins fairly quickly announced, but more than half a year later, Belkin’s page for the TuneTalk Stereo has been up for months, but still displays the disclaimer “Coming soon. Please check back for updates on availability”, while Griffin Technology haven’t even got an official page yet for their upcoming iTalkPro. Thankfully, the first microphone plugin to hit the market, the XtremeMac MicroMemo has arrived!

At first glance this is actually a pretty impressive little device. The MicroMemo plugs straight into the iPod Video (5G) with no fuss, and instantly the record menu pops up. There are two quality settings (16-bit audio at 22 kHz and 44 kHz) which can easily be toggled between and recording starts at the press of a button. Unlike past iPod mics, the MicroMemo has a microphone on a flexible lead, so it can be positioned easily for recording either one person or two in an interview setting (although, it should be noted, the recordings are not in stereo). The MicroMemo also has a switch to allow you to record line-in from any mini-jack (the bundled microphone can be unplugged, unlike the design of the iTalkPro or the TuneTalk). There is also an embedded speaker that’s by no means loud, but is adequate to check that your recordings are working properly (this can be toggled on or off by holding how the single button on the front of the device). Even though it records in uncompressed WAV, with a 30Gb iPod as the lowest usable size, you can record more than the average interview (and far longer in low quality). The only major drawback is that the while recording the iPod’s harddrive continuously spins, so the battery life is only a few hours for continuous recording (and, annoyingly, you can’t charge while using the MicroMemo). That said, in usability terms, it’s pretty smoothly designed and straight-forward to use.

In order to check the quality of the recordings, I conducted four tests of the MicroMemo with the microphone very close to my face (about 10 -15cm away) and also with the mic about 50cm away (which is the more likely distance if it was on a desk during an interview or similar circumstances). I recorded for roughly thirty seconds at both distances on the High Quality setting and the Low Quality. You can judge with your own ears, as I’ve posted these four tests, completely unedited (in their original recorded WAV formats) here:

[1] MicroMemo Audio Quality Test – Low Quality – Close to Face (1.5Mb)

[2] MicroMemo Audio Quality Test – Low Quality – Mic 50cm from Face (1.4 MB)

[3] MicroMemo Audio Quality Test – High Quality – Mic Close to Face (6.1 MB)

[4] MicroMemo Audio Quality Test – High Quality – Mic 50cm from Face (5.9 MB)

While there was a notable difference in the volume moving the MicroMemo away even to 50cm, a quick tweak with Audacity or any other audio editor to increase the volume finds pretty decent sound quality. The low quality is a lot smaller in size, but more than adequate for playback and for most podcasting recording (unless working to professional production values). For more detailed tests of the MicroMemo, check out reviews at both iLoungeand The iPod Observer.

In a nutshell, I wanted to know if the MicroMemo would be a useful device for student podcasts, recording interviews and other audio production citizen media rather than professional media in nature. I think the MicroMemo is more than up the the task and I hope with all the iPod projects going on in universities across the world, this little plugin will make student podcasts (not just lecture recordings or coursecasts!) a more sizable part of university curricula. My only major gripe is that the MicroMemo can’t record directly to a compressed format like mp3 – that functionality would really make this device ideal!

The iPod Video FINALLY Has a Microphone Accessory!

The first of three microphones for the iPod Video has finally arrived! In the mail today was my xtrememac micromemo

XtremeMac MicroMemo Microphone Plugin for iPod VideoThere has certainly been a long wait for this microphone and it’s (I presume) soon to be relased competitors, but it seems that the wait has been worth it.  I’ll be testing and posting audio samples soon, but from my first try, this looks to be the interview-recording and podcast accessory I was hoping it would be!  More soon …