Discover Your Inner Geek!

Podcast catchup post.

I love radio, and I wake up to it every morning. I listen to it in the car. I play it while I’m doing other stuff. I have listened to podcasts from the CBC, the National Post and the Toronto Star.

I used to also, once in a while, listen to The Ongoing History of New Music on podcast, because I could never remember when it was on the radio. It seems, though, that copyright issues have made it illegal to podcast all the music that is played on the show, so you can only get transcripts, which are infuriating to read because they’re not formatted! So this is interesting, when you have a show about music and can’t play the music you’re talking about. As the host says, the law needs to catch up to the capabilities of the internet.

In the meantime, I’m still ambivalent about the usefulness of podcasts. First, you have to find them, which can be hard. Second, you have to take the time to listen to them. Third, I don’t get videopodcasting at all – what’s the difference between that and YouTube? Why would you bother?

But – I know there are people who are auditory learners, who can benefit from listening rather than watching or reading. I know that if you missed a lecture, it can be very valuable to have the entire thing available online. So I think it has a place. I think they have to be short, though, and the important information has to be near the beginning for those with short attention spans.


Chris G

The Cricket Track

I don’t have much to say about podcasts listened to over the week but “Audio Week” stopped me from skipping the Cricket Track as it started to play.  Has anyone listened to the Cricket Track on Neko Case’s recent album?  It really is 30 minutes of crickets.  I believe Case recorded the crickets in a field behind her recording studio, something like that.

What to make of the Cricket Track?  Is it indulgent, like 30 pictures of sunsets from someone else’s travels?  When I wasn’t consciously thinking about sound, my impulse was to skip the track.  As I listened to it, consciously choosing to let it play, I liked it more.  It actually is a pretty impressive recording of crickets, evocative of a quiet field full of them out in the countryside at night.  I think Case manages to share with us what she wanted to, something that she heard out there in the field.  Making podcasts, like making music and other art, I imagine, will involve thinking about the audience and what we can ask of them.  Another part will be our own desires to include content and other things that for whatever (quirky) reasons might be important to us.


How I became a fan of Weird Al Yankovic…

(Just to make sure my post is attractive enough: You will see my position about the essay if you read until the end).

Week 7 was so much fun! Besides reading all the info on podcasts, I spent more than an hour watching Weird Al Yankovic. This will not give me any geek points, but it was a blast! This is my favourite online course ever, KUDOS to Cheryl! All right, back to learning and reflection:

A bit about my experience: I love podcasts. I have been deleting music from my ipod in order to make space for more podcasts. Here are some of my favourites (please share yours, too!):

Months ago, I realized that it was much easier for me to comprehend something I listened to, instead of something I read. It happened with the New Yorker, I used to read the Comment and -as it happens with everything I read- I had to go back and read it over and over. However, when I listened for the first time such a clear voice, with perfect intonation and pauses narrating the Comment, my comprehension levels increased and now I can’t get enough!

Note: The problem of listening to podcasts while I walk to work is that I really get into them and sometimes I will find myself crossing a street without noticing the cars… the same happens with people.

Podcasts and higher ed: The work that Bridgewater State College is doing shows how the use of technology can support student programming. Interestingly, they are not just creating 15-minute podcasts but they are also designing a learning infrastructure: there is a space for discussion, option for mentors and other components, involvement of the students in the planning, etc.  It’s also very obvious that they have both the resources needed and the support from the institution. I believe that the culture of an insitution plays a key role in the implementation of creative and innovative programs supported or powered by technology.

Re ESL students: Listening to native speakers is one of the best ways to enhance our speaking and pronounciation skills. Wouldn’t be great to have a list of podcasts that an international student could download in order to get more information about the university, slang, phrases, life in Canada, etc?

Now, the issue of access. We think that: commuter students + podcasts =learning while they commute

But what about those students who do not have access to an mp3 player, ipod, etc? What if they don’t have a computer at home? Can the library lend a mp3 player? Does anybody know about this?

About Socrates in Earphones: After reading the article about 3 times (it might have been easier if I had listened to it, but I guess learning does not happen via audio…) I want to write a few things:

1. All right, agreed. The rationale for implementing ilectures should not be that attendance to lectures is becoming difficult.

2. Universities/educators should be up to date. At least they should be aware of what is happening outside of their classrooms. Even if they are “good teachers”. Actually, at this point I’m thinking if the writer really cares about the quality of education or if this is just a way to rant against change and the use of new technologies.

3. I don’t know about you all, but I’ve learned a lot via the internet, without a structured and scholarly relationship between data information and knowledge. Learning happens EVERYWHERE! We don’t need to have a teacher/student configuration to create a learning environment, that’s so traditional thinking (argh).

4. Any way, it is true that we should not compromise the quality of education. The use of technology is not an easy way out of good teaching or good programming.



I picked the shortest podcast I could find – about the new visual identity of the AGO – and listened while I  worked. I did’nt know who was talking, and I kept drifting off to concentrate on my work.  What info I did catch was not very illuminating.

I might be better at listening to a podcast on my MP3 player on the GO Train than here at work.  If I were to do that, I would find something more interesting to listen to.

If we decided to do podcasts for Student Life, I would say that it would be crucial to pick a speaker with the right type of voice.


Hmm podcasts..

I browsed the web for different podcasts and found an extensive list available, from those covering academic topics, the UofT Reading Series podcast, an AGO podcast on its new graphic identity, to Western’s weekly news podcast presented by journalism students. Its clear that podcasts are being used a lot more than I realized. As a visual person, I tried listening to a few and was surprised how much I enjoyed it, while being able to browse other websites at the same time. Who needs to see a webcast, with someone standing in front of a room talking?!

I’m wondering if using podcasts in our work with students is something worth developing through providing workshop type content. I facilitated a graduate student focus group yesterday and someone said she’d like to see a formal student life presentation during orientation on getting involved and campus resources.  I wonder if a welcome podcast of this sort on our website would be worthwhile as well.