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Category Archives: Media

Podcasting is hot stuff. Again!

There seems to be a growth spurt for podcasting.

I love the fact that the audio format has been on the upswing, even despite the explosion of screen-based communication options. Depending on who you ask, they will tell you video didn’t assassinate the radio star for various reasons. Such as

  • Podcasts is immensely portable, and does is perfect for multi-tasking
  • Podcasts capture the ‘authentic’ voice of the person or the moment being represented – no fake ‘DJ voice’ required
  • Podcasts have in their DNA something akin to long-form journalism – deep dives into content, rather than skimming a topic

  • Podcasts lend themselves to drama, even while being authentic. The nearest thing to the documentary.

My recent favorites are Snap Judgement, Serial, Invisibilia (former radio Lab producers), and Star Talk.

Apart from the usual line up of This American Life, For Immediate Release, and EdReach, an education podcast for Ed-tech matters I now dabble in.

 

Interestingly this year will be six years since I first got into podcasting. And this year may be the year we begin podcasts at my school. More on this in a later post!

 

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Permanent home for Mars Day

One of my other hats is to build content for my school website. This gives me a chance to dabble in some of the areas I used to, in my previous life :-)

I work with our Web person, Lori Diab, who created this marvelous spot on our website. Lori just happens to be a former IABC Member, so we kinda speak the same language.

It’s a work in progress, but contains:

  • Links to past activities
  • Scientists with whom we have connected
  • Winners of competitions
  • Organizations supporting Mars Day
  • Media reports
  • Interviews – upcoming 
The idea for the page title, ‘Next Stop, Mars’ was from Lori. Which is timely, considering so much being discussed –NASA, and aerospace companies — about humankind’s next planetary home. Astronaut, Scott Kelly, who is the twin brother of astronaut Mark Kelly, is on a mission that begins in March 2015.
Kody Ensley - Tim Olson

Kody Ensley, working on Robonaut-2 at Johnson Space Center. Kody spoke to our students in Oct. 2012.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Education, Media, Technology

 

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“This is Salt River Radio!”

Audio is a powerful medium. Overlooked, but extremely powerful.

While video gets all the attention, audio programs –basically podcasts — have been steadily growing recently. This week, I began the new semester by upping the ante for 5th and 6th grade students, showing them how to become producers of content. To start off, I got them to think of themselves as owning their own radio show. A news show, a sports show, or a show about events in the community.

How do they plan and create content? What are the elements of a good show? Good information? A nice pace? A strong personality? Music? Sound Effects?

I plan to use some of my prior radio experience to get students to create their ‘shows.’
Audacity-2.0.png
The software we will be using is Audacity, which is really powerful software. All computers in the Computer and Technology Lab are now loaded with Audacity, and we just got started understanding how  tracks and buttons work, and how to export an editable audio file, to work on it as we move along.

I’m sure you’re wondering: how could digital natives get so excited about ‘old media’? You would be surprised!

‘Salt River Radio’ is the tip of the spear of something bigger I have in mind. I am also looking for input from anyone with radio experience, who would like to be a part of this project, either as a guest instructor, or otherwise.

Stay tuned, if you’ll pardon the pun.

 

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“Time Bombs of the Mind” – A journalist’s take on science, technology, and a media-saturated world

The first thing that strikes you when you meet Nalaka Gunawardena is how grounded he is. Someone introduced him as a citizen journalist, but he’s larger than that, with his antennae in many places, covering science, and pop culture, information technology and social media.

Meeting this new generation of media-savvy writers (he’s a blogger and journalist) who are comfortable in both mainstream and new media, makes me optimistic that in a media-saturated environment where one-liners and tweets pass off as news, there is serious journalism underfoot. Nalaka covers such topics as climate change, space science, and road safety, among other areas.

Nalaka’s just published book is, Wanted: Time Bombs of the Mind

 

Full disclosure: I met Nalaka last year in Sri Lanka –we were on a panel discussion related to my book, Chat Republic.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2014 in Book, Media, Social Media

 

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The “Windows in our Palms” and Digital Practice

There is no shortage of studies about the value or misuse of smart phones. It’s hard to find an adult who does not carry one. (For the record I know three people, and they are doing just fine!)

As a technology teacher in an elementary school, I must take into account the downside of too much tech, and too little ‘think time’ whether my students are involved in writing, weighing in during a discussion, or sometimes, even listening to instructions, undistracted by the screens to which we give them access.

These Digital Natives may rarely find a space that is free of technology, or an object or space urging them to turn to technology. For this reason I kicked off my classes with a unit on Digital Citizenship.

Technology is a tricky beast. Should we ban phones and roll out the cart of tablets? Should we discourage social media, but ask them to become familiar with ‘journaling’ a.k.a. blogging, one of the earliest forms of social media? Hmm!

Here are two pieces worth reading and watching:

“Why I quit Twitter” – Patton Oswalt, TIME Magazine 
Not just a discussion of Twitter, but a wonderful, commentary on how people are “peeping at windows in their palms.”

“Kids with cell phones. How young is too young?
A short video by CBS News about the pros and cons of cell phones for young children, and the need to model good practices, and teach ‘digital hygiene’.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2014 in Education, Media, Twitter

 

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Chromecast Vs Roku case rests (for now)

While many of you are staking bets on whether to back Germany or Portugal, I’ve been wrestling with another tough choice: Extend my content to other screens using Chromecast, or go with a media player such as Roku.

Chromecast is a slick little piece of engineering, with some issues not well explained when you open the delightful little box. One needs to figure out which platforms support Chrome and find a workaround those that don’t. To make matters worse, the Kindle does not support some apps that are available on other Android devices.

Which made me long for something quicker and needs no workaround. Roku has raced ahead and given us about three choices, so this week it was one hearing on my bench: Roku original, Roku 1, or Roku 2. Actually there are four choices: One’s a ‘streaming stick’ (just like Chromecast), and the other three are nifty little media players.

All this about the same week that the Supreme Court ruled against streaming television content via that other little rogue box, known as Aero. In an earlier hearing, some of the judges wondered if this was not what streaming media from the so-called cloud’ was all about.

 

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2014 in Media, Technology

 

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‘Doodles’ push up the audio channels on Google

If you’ve been on the Google search page today you couldn’t have missed the tweak to the traditional Google Doodle. This one is for International Women’s Day.

To call it a tweak is to both understate it (and to state the obvious!) These Google Doodles are always a tweak up on what we have expected.

Notice, too, how these Google doodles now have a neat audio quality? On Valentine’s Day it featured mini stories by Ira Glass –the best ‘radio voice’ today in the U.S. Just like Ira’s show This American Life, Google encapsulated vignettes related to romance in (what else?) little colored hearts. You could read about that project here.

The point of all this is that plain old audio appears to be making a comeback. Big time comeback, if you consider how services such as Sound Cloud, and VoiceThread have become popular.  Is it that we have become jaded by video and pictures –with every mobile phone on the planet generating all this flotsam that wears us down? Or, is it that we may be kicking our habit of glazing over stuff, and now yearn for deeper content?

I didn’t mean ‘plain’ when I said plain old audio. Recording devices now capture a lot more quality than before. We can capture a lot more conversations, and almost make our mini audio documentaries with them. Our own little ‘Audio Doodles’.

And we are richer for this!

Now if only some rich uncle (or Google) would underwrite this idea

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in Media, Podcasts, Social Media

 

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