Podcasting in Plain English

Another gem from Common Craft and their excellent “In Plain English” series, this time about podcasting.

The trouble I tend to experience with faculty, especially faculty who are fairly new users of technology, is explaining the key difference between a podcast and traditional streaming audio, which is subscription. I often find that until people actually see a podcatcher in action, they sometimes can’t wrap their head around what that subscription model looks like, especially if they have never been exposed to RSS feeds before. This video will help.


3 months of Twitter

I was about to add my name to Alan Levine’s Twitter Life Cycle when I realized I have been using Twitter for 3 months now. Has it really been 3 months since I hopped on board the Twitter train? Wow. Time flies when you are having fun. And Twitter is fun.

But beyond fun, in the past 3 months Twitter has quickly become an indispensable tool for me. It is allowing me to connect with people at a completely different level. Clive Thompson at Wired puts it well when he says Twitter creates a social sixth sense.

It’s like proprioception, your body’s ability to know where your limbs are. That subliminal sense of orientation is crucial for coordination: It keeps you from accidentally bumping into objects, and it makes possible amazing feats of balance and dexterity.

Twitter and other constant-contact media create social proprioception. They give a group of people a sense of itself, making possible weird, fascinating feats of coordination.

I experienced one of those “feats of coordination” a few days after I signed up for Twitter. Northern Voice was happening in Vancouver. I was unable to attend, but was able to virtually attend as my network kept feeding me information via Twitter. Links to supplemental materials and live videocasts of keynotes were popping up, allowing me watch and listening real time. I followed the backchannel conversations and was able to get a sense of what was happening, from multiple independent sources. People who did not know each other, but happened to be at the same conference in the same room all commenting on the same points. It was incredibly rich – an aha moment for me that convinced me there was something to this Twitter thing.

Since then my delicious account has been filling with Twitter specific content – how academics are using it, both professionally and pedagogically. Tools and mashups to leverage it, and guides and resources I can use to help me convince others to join in.

So, after 3 months with Twitter I can say that there is something there, despite the frequent outages. If you want to find me I’ll be at twitter.com/clintlalonde.


Walls Optional: The 2008 DE Conference at Camosun College

Just wrapped up a planning meeting for our annual in house distributed education conference. Walls Optional: Promoting Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Technology is going to happen on May 6th at Camosun College. It’s a good opportunity for both our faculty and our department to showcase some of the work we have been doing in the past year, and setting the groundwork for the year to come.

I’m very happy that both Brian Lamb and Scott Leslie have agreed to present. The 2008 Horizon Project has caught the attention of some fairly high level administrators here, so it’s great to have someone like Scott here to speak directly to the report. And I’m very excited to meet Brian in person after having followed his work for the past few years.

I’ve got a space to present and am kicking around a couple of workshop ideas. Being more “Tech” than “Ed”, I’m leaning towards something hands on. I like the idea of doing a session on personal homepages and aggregation services (ala Netvibes or Pageflakes). Not only would many people find it useful to help organize their online life, but it would give me an opportunity to toss out a whole bunch of other technologies – blogs, RSS, podcasts, Flickr, widgets, delicious, and so on.

There is also a part of me that wants to do something around embed and how powerful and revolutionary I think that idea is.

But the session that will probably win out is the less than glamorous PowerPoint is Evil as a web content delivery tool. Judging from the number of PowerPoint presentations I see being posted online, I think this is something that will yield the biggest immediate bang for the buck. And I can still hang some Web 2.0 goodness onto this, showing off tools like Google Presentations and Slideshare.

So, if you were going to do a presentation to faculty about why they shouldn’t use PowerPoint on the web, what would you talk about? What alternatives are there to PowerPoint? Can you point me to any good resources? And, most importantly, should I use PowerPoint to do the presentation 🙂