Picture of John Mayer
Advice for Law Faculty New to Podcasting
by John Mayer - Friday, 3 March 2006, 11:58 AM
Professor William Andersen of the University of Washington School of Law will be creating podcasts for his Administrative Law Course.  UW is on the quarter system so he has not yet started his spring semester course. 

I thought this would be a good opportunity to ask you grizzled podcasting veterans what advice you would give to to any law faculty who is going to start podcasting their course - be it recording the classroom or creating summaries.

Post your advice in this forum and I will process the results into an FAQ for faculty to use in the future.

Picture of Debra Cohen
Re: Advice for Law Faculty New to Podcasting
by Debra Cohen - Monday, 6 March 2006, 2:48 PM

I don't think I want to acknowledge being grizzled in any way; however, that aside I will start off with one suggestion for each...

For summaries, I would suggest preparing  an outline in advance so that you keep on track.   When I started I tried speaking extemporaneously and I found that they went on longer and I didn't always hit all the points I wanted. 

For classes, don't forget you are taping.  Occassionally I take little forays into other issues (like things going on at school) and I try to remember to turn off the recorder for them. 

I look forward to the words of wisdom from others...


Picture of Jennifer Martin
Re: Advice for Law Faculty New to Podcasting
by Jennifer Martin - Tuesday, 7 March 2006, 1:53 PM

I do the class taping for my podcasts and it has gone mostly without hitches, except those created by me . . .  Things I've learned the hard way:

1.  Watch the "hold" button on the back and don't use it unless you really mean to!

2.  Turn off your recorder after class or you will run out of batteries!

3.  Carry extra batteries in case you forget #2 above.

4.  Remember to turn the recorder on prior to class!

5.  Empty the recorder frequently to avoid running out of space.  I use the highest quality recordings, so this will fill up the recorder more quickly.

6.  Remember to convert your wma files to mp3's prior to trying to upload them to the classcaster site. 

7.  Organize your classcaster site into different categories for each class you are podcasting to keep the files organized.

8.  I also have used my blog to post links to articles and other helpful materials that students send me.

9.  Remind the students that the blog is there and encourage them to visit it frequently!.

jennifer martin

Picture of Charles Shafer
Re: Advice for Law Faculty New to Podcasting
by Charles Shafer - Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 9:21 AM

(1) If doing summaries:  don't have your mouth too close to the microphone.

(2) Don't fiddle with things in your hands if they are close to the microphone.

Charles Shafer

Picture of Diane Murley
Re: Advice for Law Faculty New to Podcasting
by Diane Murley - Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 11:59 AM
Before you begin: Review the Classcaster FAQ, Podcasting Project FAQ, and Peter Martin's tutorial.
Generally: Subscribe to or monitor the CODEC Classcaster forums. I could not have done this successfully without the availability of Elmer and John to answer my questions or without the reinforcement of others who were also learning and asking questions.
During: Experiment until you find something that works for you, whether it is summaries, posting your recorded lectures, or something else. You will find many good ideas in the Classcaster forum archives.

I discovered it took me too long to record summaries that were good enough to post. But I didn't want to post the entire recording of each class. I teach first-year students, and I didn't want to discourage discussion and questions by posting what they said on the web. (Even passworded, the recordings are not really secure.) Also, there are some class activities and discussions that add to the length of the recording without a corresponding benefit to a listener outside of class.

Although I still plan to record general, reusable summaries on some topics, as an interim solution I am posting edited class recordings. When I edit out the class discussion, leaving only my question and summary of the discussion, and omit other classroom activities that don't translate well to audio-only, I usually have a 20-30-minute audio file. If we covered more than one discrete topic, I break up the audio into more than one file. That way the students can review exactly what they need and not waste time reviewing what they already understand.

I do the editing using Audacity, a free software that Peter Martin talks about in his tutorial.
Picture of Carole Buckner
Re: Advice for Law Faculty New to Podcasting
by Carole Buckner - Thursday, 9 March 2006, 1:39 PM

1.      Preparation/Equipment:

    1. I highly recommend doing the tutorial.  All of the sessions are very good.
    2. Find out whether there are any limitations on recording the class and get student consent if necessary.
    3. For recording the summaries, I used the Plantronics headset microphone which connects to the computer through a USB port and supposedly provides a better quality sound.
    4. I am using the iRiver T30 MP3 player, which doesnt have to be converted to MP3 format.  The downside is that it doesnt pick up student comments in a large class, so if you want that information recorded, you need to restate it during the lecture.  I may in the future try another recorder that does pick up the comments of students.  My students listened right away to see if their comments could be heard, and seemed relieved that they could not be heard.  If you are concerned about chilling your students discussion, you can consider this approach.
    5. Be aware that you are recording yourself.  Students get to hear and re-hear (and re-hear) your classroom comments.  This is a change from past practice.
  1. Getting the word out:
    1. Mention the blog frequently in class
    2. Link the blog to your webpage on Lexis or Westlaw.
    3. Keep mentioning it to your students.  One big selling point is this:  students listen to and read many things, but other sources are not as closely aligned with this specific course as the summaries you are creating.  These summaries capture the level of depth at which you are teaching the course, the aspects of the law that you are emphasizing and the cases and materials you are covering. 
    4. Empahsize how students can use the class recordings just to zero in on what they dont understand.  Tell them to keep track of any point at which they get lost in class by noting the time; then they can quickly zip to the appropriate piece without having to listen to the whole thing.
  2. Feedback:
    1. Ask the class for feedback on what they like and dont like about your recordings and reviews.
  3. Reviews:
    1. Write scripts for the reviews.  It seems like it would take longer, but this allows faster recording and less editing.  I too am using Audacity, which is easy and works just fine.
    2. In doing the summaries, consider doing them by topic and subtopic, rather than just what material is covered in a particular week.  For example, one week in Civil Procedure, I might finish up discovery and begin, but not finish up a unit on summary judgment.  Instead of making a summary of what was covered that week, I would include the discovery information with the prior weeks summary, and the summary judgment information with a summary that covers the entire topic of summary judgment.  This way, when students review, they can find everything on a topic in one summary. 
    3. Do the summaries after you teach the class, as much as possible, which will allow you to focus in on the areas that students may be having trouble understanding.