Over the course of Edinburgh Napier’s 2013 autumn term I’ve been experimenting with Audioboo.fm as a podcasting platform, adding another level of communication with the students on two of the modules I’ve been working on. The process has been pretty straightforward:
- using the Audioboo app on my phone I record up to five minutes of audio, give it a title and a category and click ‘Publish’
- a bit of magic happens in the cloud then after a minute the post is visible on my Audioboo page
- from there I copy the embed code and paste it into a Label on Moodle that’s positioned next to that topic’s other resources
I try to get the recordings done in a single take – maybe I should put together a bloopers reel, complete with coughs, expletives and a fair smattering of umms and errs. From the beginning the intention has been to try to link one week’s topics to the next, reflecting upon seminar discussions, guest speakers, relevance for assessments and whatever else makes sense at the time. I’ve avoided the temptation to add music, jingles and the other paraphernalia of a radio show, but who knows what treats might be in store for future modules? The simplicity of the Audioboo platform helps too: a free account gives me just five minutes to play with and that’s enough to be getting on with. The app and the web page are easy enough to navigate, though can feel underpowered in terms of statistics and metrics.
Speaking of which, I have (according to Audioboo) had some impressive listening figures:
TSM08103 ‘The Impacts of Festivals and Events’ (40 students):
- 12 recordings (11 topics + one revision post)
- Highest play count: ‘1.5K’ (this was for the introductory week)
- Total play count: 9,370 (average = 780)
TSM09102 ‘Planning and Public Policy for Festivals and Events’ (95 students):
- 16 recordings (11 topics + five revision posts)
- Highest play count: ‘4.7K’ (again for the introductory topic, which is embedded below)
- Total play count: 35,930 (average = 2,245)
All of Audioboo’s play count information is neatly rounded up to the nearest ten, then the nearest hundred once you get over 1,000 – for this reason I do have some doubts about the accuracy of some of these data. What counts as a play? Is it enough for the embedded player to be called up from their servers? There has been a drop in play counts across both modules from earliest to more recent, apart from a single reverse among the TSM09102 batch, so the jury is perhaps out on that one. If actual plays (partial + full) are what counts then this would appear to be a success – that’s a lot of listens. The posts are all publicly available too, each one automatically announced through my Twitter feed during its publication.
It is of course little surprise that so many people would want to hear my utterances, but I’m sure I hardly need to add that. Ahem.
Looking ahead to future modules I’ll carry on working out how best to use this technology. I could take it out on the road, exchanging my bedroom for the streets of Edinburgh on Hogmanay later today, or the pitch of Murrayfield at the 2014 Six Nations games. A further step would see students themselves contributing to a recording, or taking it upon themselves to do the whole thing: contributions from different seminar groups to the same podcast perhaps. There’s plenty of potential in some coverage of the events that the students themselves organise and attend, linking their work to both the module and the broader programme of study. I may start playing with SoundCloud as well, which seems to offer more but might see a return to the simplicity/flexibility debate.
Overall: podcasts have been good for me and hopefully good for the students.