Suggestions concerning the use of audio podcasts etc., Part I

As a follow-up to my questions about audio podcasts, I do have some suggestions if you do want to use them. I will make further posts on this in due course

The first part of the below already appeared as a comment on my previous post, but I am repeating it here for greater visibility.

If you do decide to use audio podcasts, I have a few tips that you may find useful.
– Some students find it frustrating when there are longish pauses, of unpredictable length, in the audio. I have found it useful to use software to automatically delete silence. The software which I found easiest to use (so far) to do this was Adobe Audition. Audition also has a helpful “batch” feature which allows you to process multiple files and give each of the resulting modified files a sensible new name.
– Automatic silence deletion is, however, still an imperfect operation. I usually offer the original and the “pauseless” versions of the audio in parallel.
– Automatic silence deletion will often delete questions from the audience (which in any case may not be picked up clearly by your recording equipment). It is good practice to repeat the question yourself, both for the rest of the audience (who may not have heard the question) and also for the sake of the recording.

Many students do find my web materials, including audio podcasts and annotated slides, a useful resource. My second-year Mathematical Analysis students have certainly been accessing last year’s audio podcasts to supplement this year’s annotated slides (notes from lectures: last year’s annotated slides are also available), and have been enthusiastic about both the slides and the audio. Dyslexic students and students who are not native English speakers have also been very pleased to have these resources available.

Last year, when audio podcasts and annotated slides for that year were made available as the module proceeded, more students were enthusiastic about the annotated slides than the audio podcasts. This year, audio podcasts were more popular than before, even though the current year’s audio was not available. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned there? Or possibly my introduction of “pauseless” versions of the audio has helped. However, the web logs indicate that the pauseless versions are, so far,  less popular than the full audio.

Joel Feinstein

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