Saturday, October 6, 2007

Just given birth: my very first slidecast!

Well, it has taken me a few hours but I got there in the end. I struggled and struggled, was in 'transition' for a very long time, but eventually (with a lot of help from my friends) I birthed my very first slidecast - I swear actual birth was easier!

Posting the PowerPoint presentation onto SlideShare was easy - I just followed the instructions. Attaching audio to the presentation was the real challenge. Firstly, I was advised to use Audacity which is a free, open source software for recording and editing sounds, and makes audio recordings into MP3 files. This is really useful if you do not have a MP3 player to record on. The reason for making a separate audio file as opposed to recording directly onto the PowerPoint presentation is that you have a lot more ability to edit and apply effects. Just be mindful when you download Audacity that you also need to download the LAME MP3 encoder which allows you to save the file as a MP3 file. Leigh Blackall's slidecast about this was really helpful. I recorded the voice-over easily but got seriously stuck when I tried to save it as a MP3 file. My epiphany moment came once I read Sue Waters' instructions on how to download Audacity and encoder. What I needed to do was open the encoder file and save it separately into another folder. Once I worked all that out, everything else feel into place and I had my MP3 file all ready to go.

The next step was to save my MP3 file on the Internet and again, I followed Sue Waters' instructions which are very comprehensive, and used Internet Archive. This is an online library where you can save files on the Internet. Once the file was saved, I was then able to go back to my presentation on SlideShare and add the audio as per Sue's instructions. Adding the audio to the slides and synchronizing it was much easier than I imagined, but there are plenty of slidecasts to help you if you need it. Sue Waters recommends MyPlick as a host for presentations because you can store both presentation and audio file there, as opposed to SlideShare where you have to store your audio file in a different location. However, I found the process of adding audio to the presentation to be very easy on SlideShare, especially compared to the process of using Audacity.

My next challenge is to go back to Audacity and have a real play with it and try some editing and making special effects. It looks relatively easy and there are a number of Slidecasts and videos on YouTube that will help you with this, such as the video by Rodney Rumford.

My main learning from this whole process is not to forget to look for resources and information on websites such as YouTube and SlideShare. Instead of getting into a mad panic and asking for help at the first hurdle, I must get into the habit of first consulting YouTube etc. There is such an overwhelming amount of information and resources on the Net and consulting these resources needs to become second nature to me. I sent out a couple of SOS emails but by the time they were answered I had managed to work things out for myself by using videos etc. I am really pleased that I managed to work this all out by myself without any face-to-face support. However, I must remember that not all students would be able to do something like that without much more hand-holding. The second interesting thing was the number of medias that I used in the process: Skype, email, YouTube, Slidecasts, wikis and blogs. If I can do all that to find out how to make a slidecast, why can't my students use the same process to find out about a midwifery topic? I think it's a very powerful process, with a reflective element at the end of the process. It also fits the whole concept of problem-based or scenario-based learning so well.

So, here's my baby: it is a very crude first attempt:

I need to learn a lot more about sound quality, editing etc. I could not believe how difficult it was to come up with a script or how nervous I was. What I would appreciate is feedback from people: what it sounded like; how easy/difficult it was to download and any tips for improving quality.


Carolyn McIntosh said...

Well done, you have done a fantastic job. I decided to try to add a photo album to my blog. Have spent all morning creating a woohoo account. Loading up photos. Creating the album. Loading and reloading zillions of times onto my blog as it would not load properly. And now i have lost my blog altogether. The powers that be within cyberspace have obviously decided that I am an idiot and have removed me from the web. BOO HOO!! not WOOHOO.
Anyway I am very impressed with your efforts. I will have to give this a go when I have a wee bit of time later today if I can.

Leigh Blackall said...

Great job Sarah, and thanks so much for writing it all up for others to review. Your post will be very handy for showing others.

Carolyn, I'm not sure what process you followed in deciding to use woohoo? I've never heard of it! Most bloggers I know use Flickr to host photos, and then follow a simple cut and paste process to get a flickr badge on their blogs.

bronwyn said...

sarah congratulations on being a first time slideshare mum. Your baby is a good length and weight. You must be so proud. I'm happy to see she is also a good colour for a newborn and she sounds really hearty.

This was a really enjoyable birth for me to watch.... luckily the blood and screaming was well disguised. Must have been a Le Boyer birth.(

Sarah Stewart said...

I tell you, Bron, there was lots of blood and screaming!! I nearly got to the stage of taking drugs-just had a large glass of malibu instead!

Sue Waters said...

Excellent work Sarah -- still trying to work out how I can steal you from Leigh because am very jealous by how hard working your community is. Leigh will need to let me in on his secret.

I totally struggled getting my audio hosted onto internet Archive so am glad that my notes helped you. MyPlick is the absolute easiest way of creating a video from powerpoint -- even easier than photostory.

Feed Readers like Google Reader strip out embeds like videos and slideshare so I recommend that you insert the link in your post so people realise that it is in the post. Lots of people get caught out by this and insert a video or slideshare and nothing else not realising that all the reader will see is a blank post if reading in Google Reader.

Keep up the good work -- and agree with Leigh most people use Flickr. So well done on Carolyn for figuring out Flickr.


Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for that advice,Sue - I'll do that in the future. Leigh and Bron have been great facilitators, very prompt and knowledgeable in their replies and advice. But I must say that you have been extremely helpful as well-I am finding your blog and wiki invaluable, so thank you for that.

rae hickey said...

hey Sarah - good for you! Nice to see what those snippets of conversation floating about the office have been about.