Using Record MP3 for Podcasts

record mp3I made a podcast this week using Record MP3, and I would say it turned out well given what I had to go through to make it. Honestly, it’s a simple tool to use because you simply press “record” and then “stop” when you are finished. Your file is then automatically converted into an mp3 that you can save to your computer. Simple, right? WRONG!

When you first open Record MP3, you must configure your microphone settings. In order for you not to sound like the guy behind the green curtain, make sure you turn your mic’s volume level down to near nothing. Otherwise, your voice will be way too loud, and your listeners will not be able to understand you.

Also, there is no way to edit any part of your recording, meaning it’s an all-or-nothing deal when you record. In my opinion, there are better options out there (Audacity) that will allow you to edit any part of the recording you wish, while still producing an mp3 in the end.

audacity

I put music at the beginning and end of my podcast to add interest to the listeners, but I ended up having to move my microphone towards and away from my phone playing the music to achieve the fading effect I was looking for. I’m sure I looked ridiculous, but it sounded better than it would have without the music. Again, Audacity would have been easier to edit the audio.

This post is probably the most negative you will hear from me, but it really was a tool that I don’t feel is complex enough. There is such a thing as too simple when it comes to Web 2.0 tools. If you feel like this could be something useful, please try it for yourself. Feel free to let me know your thoughts about it! Oh, and I would post my podcast below, but I can’t post an mp3 without upgrading my wordpress.

 

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Quizlet and Poll Everywhere: Interactive Quizzes and Surveys

We learned a lot of new web 2.0 tools last week! I chose to delve deeper into Quizlet and Poll Everywhere just to see if I could really use these tools in my classroom. Quizlet is a fantastic tool to create online flashcards if memorization is needed for a particular unit of study. I created my own quiz on quadrilaterals because I have found this can be difficult for students as the definitions are quite similar to each other. This tool would help my students study the definitions with flashcards, and they can then take a test using Quizlet before we test in class. One of the biggest downfalls in my opinion is that you cannot embed a Quizlet on a website or blog.

quizlet

Poll Everywhere is another tool that I can see myself using in the classroom. This allows you to ask a question, and students can respond via text message, Twitter, or the Poll Everywhere app available on iOS and Android. When waiting for the responses to appear on the screen, the students’ responses could take a few seconds to show, meaning you could lose some instruction time. However, I found that tweeting the response actually worked the fastest.

poll-everywhere

I have seen over and over again that some students simply do not know how to study. Quizlet is a tool that they can use to get them started by memorizing vocabulary or steps to a procedure. Only then will they be able to take that knowledge and apply it to a more challenging question. This really is a student-centered tool. On the other hand, Poll Everywhere is more for teachers because they can obtain instantaneous feedback from students about how the students feel the class is going as a whole, their understanding of the material, or even what type of pizza they would like to have for an end-of-the-year celebration!

Jing: Screencapturing At Its Finest

Yesterday, I had the privilege of teaching our class how to use Jing, a tool that allows you to easily capture any part of your screen as an image or video and share it with the world. I really like this tool, and I feel like it is one of the most useful tools that I have learned in this class so far. It is easy to install on a Mac or PC, and it couldn’t be easier to find once it’s installed. A sun appears on the top right corner on a Mac, and you simply hover over it, click capture, and you can select any portion of your screen. I love how many different options there are to share the photo once you have captured the image. You can save it to your free screencast.com account, save it directly to your computer, upload it to Twitter, Facebook, or Youtube, or simply copy the image to paste it into another program like email or Word.

There isn’t that much that I do not like about Jing. The biggest down side is that it is an application that has to be downloaded to each computer that wants to use it, so there might be issues in a classroom obtaining the necessary approval. Also, the videos that you can record have a 5-minute time limit, and they can only be saved as a .smv file. Unfortunately, these require Adobe Flash Player, which means they cannot be viewed on iOS devices (iPhones, iPods, iPads).

I will most definitely use this tool in my classroom! One of the ways I plan to use it is to have students record themselves working through a math problem step by step as a way to assess what they know. I can record videos myself so that students can watch them later as many times as they need until they understand how to work through a specific type of problem. Here is an artifact I made using Jing.

Diigo

Diigo is a social bookmarking tool that, in my opinion, is an easy way to keep up with all of your bookmarks and find interesting sites that other people have bookmarked. My favorite part of Diigo is the extension that I have installed in Chrome. It is a small button that is always there so I can easily bookmark a page, highlight a portion of a page, or open my library to quickly access my bookmarks. Adding tags is quite helpful because you can always search tags or click a specific tag to show all bookmarks with that particular tag. There is also an app for both iPhones and Androids so you can access your bookmarks wherever you may be. Another benefit of Diigo is that a group can be formed so that anyone that is a member of that group can access the same bookmarks. Here is a video about how to create a group.

 

Although I feel like Diigo is much more user friendly than LiveBinders, I feel like I will still use bookmarks in my web browser to quickly access my most frequently visited pages. It may just be that I am used to the bookmarks in Chrome, but I find it more time-consuming to click into my library and find a bookmark, say for Facebook, than it is to simply click my Facebook button at the top of my browser. However, this is a great tool to keep all of my educational websites readily available. Also, I could create a group for each of my classes, and the students could all access commonly used sites from any computer.

LiveBinders

LivebinderI teamed up with another student in our class to research and teach LiveBinders to the rest of the class. LiveBinders is a way to organize links to webpages on a related topic in a binder with tabs and subtabs. Each tab or subtab contains a link to a page. For example, you can have a binder on Web 2.0 tools, and the tabs can be organized by Blogs, Mobile Apps, and Storage. You can then have subtabs to list each tool under each tab. Under the Blogs tab, you can have a subtab for Blogger, one for WordPress, and another for EduBlogs. I liked how you can customize the binder to look exactly how you want it to look. My LiveBinder looks like a website with a list of “pages” down the side. Another benefit for this tool is that you can access several different web pages while only working in one tab on your internet browser.

Although there are several people who say that LiveBinders is a great tool to use in the classroom, I do not feel like it will be a tool that I use. I found it to be a bit overwhelming for something that should be rather simple. The interface is not very intuitive, and I found that the tutorial binder that comes standard when you set up your account did not address some of the questions that I had while working with the tool. I feel like a good tool is one that you can somewhat teach yourself to use, and I don’t feel like LiveBinders is one of those tools. There are better tools out there that accomplish the same thing as LiveBinders.

WikiSpaces as an Online Collaborative Tool

Working in WikiSpaces is similar to working in PBWorks or a blogging tool like WordPress. However, I find it a bit more frustrating. I’ll begin by discussing what I enjoy about WikiSpaces. It has a simple layout with three buttons at the top: add a page, add a  file, and discuss. You can easily link to another page in the wiki, which really helps when navigating between multiple pages.

Unfortunately, there are more reasons that I did not like WikiSpaces than there were in favor of the tool. I really do not like the fact that only one person can edit a page at a given time. There are plenty of other tools out there like Google Docs that will allow multiple editors to edit documents. I also found that the formatting within this tool is not consistent in any way. I had to change the formatting multiple times before it finally looked how I wanted it to look. For example, I had to manually number a list in order for the numbers to appear as I needed them, rendering the numbering tool that is built in useless. The page looked different depending on the size of the computer screen, which caused even more problems with the formatting.

This is a tool that could be used in the classroom, but I feel like I will not be using it because there are so many flaws with the formatting. When creating pages for a class, they need to look professional, and I do not think WikiSpaces is as functional as other tools out there.