Friday, August 18, 2006

Blogging in my classroom

This week has been a busy one. Yesterday was the first day back from summer break. Today, we had our district's annual "kick-off" breakfast and day-long staff development session.

I have been trying to pick a new device to create podcasts with and finally made a decision between several really good choices. After listening to Aaron Smith's podcast using the new Belkin TuneTalk, I read reviews from the guys over at on them. While reading their review, they pointed to thought I wanted an Edirol R 09. Aaron's podcast showed how good the TuneTalk could work. I am not sure how high the gain was on his podcast, but it sounded fine. So, with his example and the fact that the TuneTalk has USB port to supply external power while recording, I thought the iPod video would do what I wanted it to. In addition to voice recording at a high quality than my old iPod, plus my educator's discount, I got real serious about selecting the iPod. While looking at the iPod, and articles about the TuneTalk, I started having second thoughts because after spending time creating podcasts the summer, I ran into one big issue: you need two microphones to record a conversation between two folks. If a podcast is just a TV news style interview, were the reporter basically asks his/her question off camera and the interviewee responds into the mic, the iPod works fine. So, I started looking for a way to get around this.

No one makes a device that I could find that allows two microphone to be feed into an iPod. Someone needs to build it. They need a cheap mixer so the volumes and gain levels can be controlled and then can be connected to the iPod for recording. I found that a Marantz 660 has two XLR mic jacks. I am not sure if Marantz makes them, but there is a company that ships what they call conference microphones, which are twin mics, which are perfect for a two person interview situation.

I saw a podcaster at the PodcasterCon event, that had a pro set up with a mixer and compressor, and could mic up to five panelists or performers. He ran this through a PowerBook. Ok, that is like the ultimate podcaster setup. Not realistic for my use.

Another option, the Edirol R09, was so hard to find, I gave up on it. Last weekend, I made a trip to Walmart, again, to see if they had an iPod instock. Much to my surprise, the electronic department associate I talked to told me that they had been out of them for three or four weeks and "Apple" just sent them what they wanted to, they had not control over what they got in. I smiled at the acne-faced teenager employee and thanked him for his time. Within 30 minutes from almost having an "Apple Basher" tell me how sorry the batteries are on the iPod video, I went home, got online, ordered the black iPod Video/ 30 GB, and Belkin TuneTalk. I got a confirmation the next day from Apple. The estimated ship date was initially two weeks. This made me a little disappointed. However, arriving home Wednesday, only four days later, there was a sicker on door and when I got closer to the door, the note was from the FedEx driver. I was amazed. Looking back at my email, somehow, I had overlooked another email from Apple with a FedEx shipping tracking info. The info supplied showed that the iPod has been shipped from Shanghai, China Sunday night, flew to Alaska, then Wilmington, NC and FedEx's driver had not left it in the door because no one was home to sign for it. I almost fell out of the chair. It was almost here.

I have to go this weekend to Walmart and show the Walmart clerk that on one has to "wait for Apple to ship" an iPod to Wally World. Get online and they can build it in China, ship it via FedEx and you can be watching videos by Wednesday! This is a Flat World. Walmart - you have to do a better job if you want to sell electronics! Wally World must make more profit on the Creative products. I know they have their own Walmart Music store, or did they close that?

The Belkin mic worked with my brief testing the night my iPod arrived. It occurred to me that it might be interesting to record some audio from various teachers and ask them what they did during their break, and what one thing they were looking forward to for this new school year. So, I charged up the battery on my new toy. I arrived slightly late for the breakfast that began at 8:00 am. My iPod was in my pocket. Evidently, sitting down during the breakfast, the battery ran down. Pulling it out of my pocket and punching the play button, nothing happened!

Crap. No recording during the breakfast. After the breakfast, it was time for a mad dash back to my vehicle. In the glove compartment, was my trusty iPod cigarette lighter converter. Plugging it in, the iPod powered up. Crap crap crap. Lesson learned #1- USE THE HOLD BUTTON to make sure you do not accidental turn on the iPod in you dang packet. Lesson learned #2 Allows carry a power converter. I have one for my old iPod that uses Firewire to connect to an AC wall outlet. I am not sure if the new iPod works with the firewire cable. But if it will, I have that AC adapter. Hum, got to try it. Better read the Apple Support page first to check for issues.

Have a great school year! Life is too short to be miserable.

I am looking forward to working with my students to create this year's podcast series.

1 comment:

Mr. Stevens said...


It sounds as if you had a some what positive experience with your Belkin recorder. I am glad that you had a better experience with FedEx than I did. The FedEx driver obtained a false signature for me and as a result some stole my new toy. I played around with podcasting within my classroom last year and I look forward to the mobility of recording podcasts with the new Belkin device.

I do find humor in your Wal-mart experience. Many of our teachers are exploring using iPods are recording devices and it is the Apple stores who are limiting them. The Apple stores around Dallas keep telling my fellow teachers that no such device is read for purchase.

My question for you is regarding video podcasts. Do you know a site that will host such podcasts that will enable me to add a subscribable feed to iTunes?

Enjoy your weekend,

Kyle Stevens