podcasts

Ted-Ed and all that

There’s been a bit of bite-back recently around the ‘Ted-Ed’ concept and the usefulness, relevance or otherwise of the whole shooting match of powerful people spouting powerful ideas. Apparently, they censored a Ted Talk that was critical of the inequity at the heart of American society. That idea sure ain’t going anywhere fast. Gary Stager had a field day. He’s hated the Ted Talk thing from day one. Salon described Ted Talks this way

Strip away the hype and you’re left with a reasonably good video podcast with delusions of grandeur. For most of the millions of people who watch TED videos at the office, it’s a middlebrow diversion and a source of factoids to use on your friends. Except TED thinks it’s changing the world, like if “This American Life” suddenly mistook itself for Doctors Without Borders. (here)

Admission 1 – I was always a bit sceptical about the $1000 a seat, or invite only idea that the Ted Talks seemed to be about in the first place. Yes, I too, smiled and nodded in hearty agreement when Sir Ken Robinson told us all how schools were killing creativity, but not a lot of the videos interested me, and the education ones always seemed a bit ‘off’ somehow. Too American maybe? Or too corporate? Or is that the same thing?

So, I hadn’t paid much attention to them really. I like video, and I think that they are a great resource when used carefully and judiciously. I’ve been actively campaigning for YouTube access at my school, first for teachers and, just this week, for senior students too. So far, the sky hasn’t fallen.

Admission 2 – However, I’m very dubious about the Khan Academy kind of approach to learning. **Maybe** the drill and drill kind of repeat and rewind thing might be useful for a skill based kind of subject (a concept in Maths?) but for Literature? I want to show that part from Olivier’s Hamlet where he finds himself in the graveyard as Ophelia is brought there, or the amazing swordfight at the end of Branagh’s version. I want to show it at the right moment in the teaching, that three to ten minute scene, then talk about it. That’s not anything to do with a chalkboard screencast of factorisation repeated until you can say it too.

But (Admission 3) I have become very interested in the concept of the *flipped classroom* and how that might supplement and enhance the classroom work I’m involved in. What if I could deliver that 20 minute overview of the SAC *success criteria* in a podcast or vidcast, and then gets the students to watch that at home? Wouldn’t that leave that 20 minutes or so free for the class to actually talk, collaborate, seek support, get on with things? That’s tempting. And (Admission 4) the tools for creating and delivering some of these enhancements, these ‘flipping’ tools, are so powerful and accessible and first time ever that they’re almost too good not to use. I can add audio to a PowerPoint with Adobe Connect and put it online so my students can watch it, and listen to the audio. I can set up an online meeting (I’ve talked about this before) with Adobe Connect and have a revision session prior to the exams, everyone in their own homes, meeting together. And that’s not to mention Skype, Slideshare, Edmodo, Class Dojo and good ol’ podcasts themselves to support student learning. So many geat tools, so little time.

Which brings me back to Ted-Ed, and their next innovation, allowing teachers to ‘frame’ a Ted Ed video with some questions: questions for understanding, questions for deeper meaning, deeper questions. And, they promise that it will work with YouTube videos too. Which is pretty exciting. A YouTube video taken away from the hideous comments and un-related playlists and brought into a learning context.

I couldn’t get it to work at first, and of course if that YouTube video goes away, so does your lesson. But it’s a much better way of looking at and framing a YouTube video in the classroom, or set for homework like the example below.

Here’s one I put together for Literature homework on Frankenstein. 

Getting started on thinking about ideas in Mary Shelley’s text: http://ed.ted.com/on/Cd3PnwNz

Or this one for the students I’m working with in Pen Club: http://ed.ted.com/on/US1FygmB

I’m still not receiving invites to Ted Talks, and console myself that any club that would have me as a member I don’t want to join. Andrew Douch said recently that he thought audio was more powerful and effective than video anyway, but here’s another tool for learning which, when combined with thoughtful teaching, might make a difference.

Advertisements

The power of the voice

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I had one of those, ‘thank goodness that effort wasn’t  totally wasted’, moments a couple of weeks ago when doing some revision work with literature students to do with podcasting.
 
Teaching the poetry of Gwen Harwood earlier this year I was very keen to include as much audio as possible; after all poetry really lives when it’s spoken I feel.
 
So, I organized for each of the poems to have a definitive ‘reading’ by a student who knew the poem well. Hearing the poem is critical so I recorded each student reading in Audacity and saved them out as .mp3s which I put on the class wiki. I also recorded a series of mini-lectures on each poem, about five minutes each just talking through the poem like I would in class. So, each poem had a wiki page with a reading, a mini-lecture and the student contributions and notes.
 
 I didn’t think much about it, although to be truthful I was a bit disappointed that students didn’t see to see the value in the audio. So, in the very last lesson of the year I was pleased and surprised that a student from another class told me that she’d been listening to the audio and that it had been the most powerful thing for her own learning. That made it worthwhile somehow.
 

And justified me buying a new Yeti microphone in the recent Apple sale and putting it under the Christmas tree for a present to myself.
 

So, next year, more audio supplements to the teaching, more attempts to bring these works to life and maybe even a return to some of those rambling Ed-tech style podcasts I did a couple of years ago!
 

Keeping a sense of wonder

I was pointed to an interesting post this week, an interview with award winning primary school teacher, Tim Thompson, on how he uses technology such as podcasts, blogs and video in his classroom. I liked the following observation particularly; a key thing for teachers I think, is to continue to play with these technologies. And that’s my excuse 🙂

Thompson says:

I’ve found that the most beneficial strategy in finding and choosing new classroom technological initiatives is to try them myself. Whenever the opportunity arises I sit in on our school district’s technology seminars and classes. Without fail I always hear of something new to try. After I first give it a try I am much more apt to give it a go with my own students. As educators, we ourselves never want to lose that sense of wonder. When we are open to new ideas and processes our students will be too.

You can read the full inerview on OpenEducation here