June 2 2006
E-Coaching Tip 15: Audio -- Why Should I Bother?
This tip is another in a series of tips about adding audio to your courses.
The last ecoaching tip encouraged you to experience some audio
content. Specifically we talked about experiencing the process of listening
to a podcast -- either on your computer or on your iPod. If you have not
yet downloaded and played a podcast on your computer, you may want to
go back to Tip 14 on instructions on how to do that. Before doing that
however, read on here for some reasons for "doing audio."
In this tip, we will suggest some of the reasons why you may want add
audio to your course. A common theme throughout this series on audio will
be how to adapt the use of audio to the online environment -- and
not use it to re-create a classroom environment. In other words using
audio online is not an opportunity for you to think, "At last, I
can lecture online!" For great teaching and learning, lectures are definitely
out; and dialogue and interaction is in!
First of all, let me acknowledge that there are a number of reasons why
you may want to take your time about using audio with your students. Here
are some possible reasons.
These reasons are outlined here -- not to discourage, but to clarify the steps and the requirements. This list can help to mentally prepare you and help you be realistic about getting started. Just taking it one step at a time will build your confidence and make learning how to do this a pleasant experience. Like me, you may also find personal advantages. I am starting to use audio -- supplemented with video -- to visit with my grandchildren who live many states away; other colleagues of mine are using these audio and video capabilities to visit with their elderly parents.
To balance the list of reasons not to do audio, here are some great reasons for jumping in and embracing the use of audio in your courses. This is just to get you started. The next e-coaching tips will list many more and talk about the differences that audio -- and sometimes audio and video combined -- can make for teaching and learning experiences.
Synchronous and Asynchronous Audio
The tools that are now available to you within the Horizon-Wimba set of tools make both synchronous and asynchronous audio possible.
Asynchronous audio can enhance the existing asynchronous tools in Blackboard, such as announcements, discussion boards, email and feedback on projects. Students can add audio data and information. Think of how audio can make the process of sending out announcements easy and natural. And you don't have to worry about spell-checking audio! Similarly, think about the getting acquainted part of your courses. You and your students can write a short paragraph and also send audio greetings and messages.
Most of us depend on synchronous audio -- basically that type of audio supported by phone conversations -- for dialoguing one-on-one or one-on-a-small group meeting. The HorizonWimba set of tools add the capability of quick, easy conferencing with your students or a small group or even larger groups of students. Suddenly it is possible to have "natural" office hours in which you can really dialogue and talk to your students. But more on these tools later.
The next tip will list a few suggestions about easy ways to get started with trying audio with your students or with your fellow faculty. In the meantime, check out the microphone and speakers on your computers. If you have time you may want to check out the website for HorizonWimba for more ideas and stories about how other universities are using audio.
For those of you who are ready right now to move quickly forward with using voice tools go and check on the Horizon Wimba site and download more of the information there.
www.horizonwimba.com/products/voicetools. One of the links leads to a demonstration of a Voice Board -- a discussion board with voice!
More Background and References
Many universities are also finding that asynchronous audio, such as that used on podcasts, is very useful for general communication and outreach. For example the business school at the University of Florida has a series of podcasts featuring some of their faculty and events. www.cba.ufl.edu/businessatflorida/
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