Testing... Testing... Testing...  Preamble
One crucial “test-phase” was to establish an exposure to the new forum while considering some flexibility in the learning curve for the student participants. At the outset students were provided with text tutorials and video instruction within Blackboard to aid them in properly downloading and installing iTunes onto their personal computers. We believe this reduced the amount of campus support staff required since, for the most part, students were able to prepare their computers for podcasting on their own without additional assistance. To establish both familiarity and lecture content reinforcement of the syllabus, we created the initial project as a status quo orientation with added value. Initially we established two podcasts that created an understanding of the formal and proper utilization of e-mail correspondence called “E-mehl” (a play on the instructor’s last name). As a feedback mechanism, we solicited the students to reflect the content of this podcast in an appropriately structured e-mail that was sent to the instructor.
To verify that both audio and text file downloading savvy had been established, we additionally required the students to access a second podcast. The second podcast reinforced the “code of conduct” guidelines, with its content available as both an ADA compliant text file and as a broadcast. As feedback, students were required to print out this one-page text document and initial it in various spots as well as date and sign it as evidence to syllabus comprehension. This “contract” was due to the instructor by the second class meeting. Upon completion of both deadline-oriented tasks, we had assurance that students were ready and prepared to use this tool confidently and reliably. In the process of the first two podcasts, kinks were worked out such as the students’ confusion over the collapsing arrow within iTunes (which permits one to attain more than one podcast and ADA compliant text file at a time.)
We intentionally did not utilize the podcasts’ functionality to “auto-update” material, but opted instead to use the course’s Blackboard online portal. By utilizing Blackboard we were able to clearly control the exact time that information would become available to the students. However, upon reflection we have decided that if we were to offer a weekly lecture podcast, the iTunes subscription tool would be the easiest way to regularly implement the downloads. In our case, the use of Blackboard as the conduit for the podcasts also allowed us to make use of Blackboard’s Course Statistics tool, which provided us with some data on the peaks and valleys of student podcast usage. Through the testing phase we learned the limitations of the podcasting server to restrict accessibility of uploaded data and the necessity to control when students attain, at least for the first time, the desired information. Our pilot clearly taught us that it is indeed important to have a learning phase for both the users as well as the providers.
Preamble Podcast
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Download the PDF transcript:  emehl.pdf5816980B-625F-424C-8198-6BA1A22F4659_files/emehl_transcript-1.pdfshapeimage_2_link_0