1. Diana George published some research on this approach back in the mid-1980s that you might look at (using analog tape recorders, as you might guess from the date). I think she focused on using recordings of peer-review meetings, and then recording her comments in audio as well.

    I couldn’t remember where it was published, but Google Scholar helped me out: It’s in CCC, Oct, 1984 (Vol 35, No 3).

  2. Thanks, Johndan. I’ll take a look at it. In limiting the comments to just five minutes, I left off pieces that, in some cases more than others, I would have liked to include. All in all, though, it seems to have worked okay. Many of the students have expressed that the voice tracks introduce for them a sense of my tone in commenting that wasn’t as clear with the written comments on the early drafts. Given that this is strictly an online class (students and me, we never meet in person) and because I still find conferences to be really valuable, the voice comments helped me this time to get at some of what I felt was lacking in the course.

  3. One of the points that was made over and over (and which I experienced) in an online course on web pedagogy that I took last semester was that the affective element is crucial to online learning as it humanizes the experience. Voice comments help as well as video. My course was a hybrid, actually, and we distance students were able to “tune in” every Wednesday night. We used a chat room to communicate, though I piloted using Breeze when I did my presentation so that everyone had the pleasure of listening to me talk about blogging with basic writers. So for one, I’ve been musing about how “voice” now has a variety of new meanings when we English types think of it, and two, I appreciate how humanizing the experience makes for a better class. BTW: what platform are you using?

  4. I tried this last year, though it was a major half-assed effort on my part. Some of us had experience with receiving audio comments in grad school (ask Collin). It changes things, that’s for sure.

    I still am not sure what a “whole assed” effort might yield.

  5. I’m mostly interested in getting into the habit of it. I tend to be better on the mic (less need for edits, redos, etc.) when I’m on it often, even if it’s only to record crappy podcasts from time to time.

    Several students have responded very favorably (and some with glee for reasons that make me skeptical: “listening is *always* better than reading!”). The online courses are managed through eCollege. What can I say for eCollege? Uh….

    But I can say that we’ve been strongly encouraged in recent years to provide audio lectures. Of course, when I got scolded for posting the lectures as MP3 files rather than WMV files (which, the logic went, would be difficult to “capture” and were therefor more problematic for students to “possess” or port), I was a bit miffed and backed off the audio efforts for a stretch.

    Collin and I chatted about it briefly, Jenny, but I didn’t get many of the details (just the idea that basic markers in the text help localize the comments, locate them). But yeah, I’m thinking I could still improve on what I did this time (five-eighths to three-fourths assed).

  6. Yo, Derek… You’re underproduced. What about a catchy opening and a soundtrack?


    I hope all is going well for you in NY. I have a book contract for “Language & Politics” –finally. That’s the book I edited with Max Skidmore (poli-sci at UMKC).

  7. Congrats on the book contract, Andy. You’re right that I could have dressed up the podcast a bit more. I’ll mix in some music next time.

  8. Where can i learn how to produce podcasts? I’ve been hearing about these mugs for months now and have paid far too little attention to the work that you, Jenny and others have done with them (in part b/c before i moved down here to FL i had dial-up and never even bothered to try to download one).

    As i’m thinking about my courses for the fall i’m trying to think of new (to me) ways of interegrating new (again, to me) media. This *sounds* pretty cool – especially since i could have upwards of 80 students and may not be able to conference one-to-one with them as much as one would like.

  9. If you’ve got a microphone, you can just download Audacity and start messing around with it. If I was starting out, I might look into Odeo, too. Odeo has some kind of software that might be worth checking out (for free, I think). With Odeo, I think you can record podcasts via telephone or cell phone, but I haven’t tried it.

    I just finished a second set of audio responses, and I’m continuing to hear from students that they like the results of the layered feedback–a set of written responses followed by a five-minute voice file responding to their revised drafts.

  10. Thanks D-Unit. I need to get more ink for my printer, so if i find a cheap mic at Staples or OfficeMax i’ll start messing around with the software (and maybe even try to post it..?). I’m really interested to see how this works – and to hear more from you about how your students respond to this form of feedback.

    Thanks again.

  11. Yeah, a cheap mic will do. I linked above to the one I use. I think it cost nine bucks (little help it is, however, for my singing career).

    From the students, it’s a general consensus of praise for the methods. They seem to like the second wave of comments coming in as an audio file. I like the variety, but I also think it makes good teaching sense to use a variety of feedback methods (especially because I know there are students who spend little time reading written comments but who will listen to the mp3 file).

  12. The audacity software is pretty cool. And i found a mic for 8 bucks at OfficeMax.

    Now i need to figure out how to post wav files or mp3 files to my blog. you got any tips for this small feat?

  13. I haven’t used Blogger enough to be sure, but there must be a way to upload audio files the same way you do images. Once the file is uploaded (located on a server somewhere or other), linking to it should make it live, downloadable, and so on.

  14. Thanks for the aid Professor Mueller! I think i’ve successfully posted my first crappy podcast! My 8 dollar splurge is going to bring me, my students and, possibly, my blogosphere audience hours of entertainment (and frustration).

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