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Posts Tagged ‘audio

Before I started using Zoom, I tested it by creating dummy sessions. It was then that I raised questions about odd default administrative settings.

By conducting dry and actual runs with my class, found answers to most of my questions. However, I also discovered one bad setting. This was the default deactivation of participants’ video and audio after returning from breakout rooms.

The default setting of initially muting audio and video is like walking into a classroom blindfolded and wearing earplugs. Thankfully each user can undo this manually so that we see and hear each other.

However, if I break a class up into smaller groups and then return everyone to a class discussion, everyone’s video and audio turns off again. I was not aware of this and one participant had to ask me to unmute my mic.

Who operates a class with constant blindfolding and earplugging? Again this is a reminder that administrators rarely understand or empathise with pedagogues.

Almost a week ago, I wrote about my plan to embed audio scaffolds for an asynchronous online portion of my class.

Embedded audio in Google Slides.

I created four sections that relied on this simple strategy to provide what an oldish-school distance educator might call telepresence or social presence.

To test its feasibility, I did two main things.

First, I wanted to simulate the use of a wireless hotspot where bandwidth might be an issue. So I visited my resources from two Wireless@SGx hotspots — one was at a library and the other a fast food joint. The audio loaded after a two or three second wait. This was acceptable.

Second, I visited the same resources on a phone. While Google Sites does a great job with responsive web design, I was not sure if the audio in embedded Google Slides would work seamlessly. I discovered that

  • desktop and mobile browsers do not play the embedded audio by default depending on the user’s security settings
  • users need to manually play the audio on mobiles despite my design to let it play by automatically
  • the default slide selection does not work as expected

The last point needs explaining. Sometimes I use the same slide deck across different pages, e.g., slide 1 for web page 1 and slide 2 onwards for web page 2. I set slide 2 to load and play audio automatically in web page 2. However, while this works on a desktop, it does not always work on a mobile browser.

My conclusion: Advise my learners to use a laptop or desktop computer. The experience is optimised for the larger screen and a less shackled web browser.

Presentations are sometimes necessary evils. At worst they are lectures conducted in the name of efficient dissemination of information. However, they do not ensure that students actually learn.

Google Presentation embedded in Google Site.

Instead I am planning on using Google Presentations as a scaffold for semi-self-directed learning during an asynchronous online class. The learning is not pure SDL because I am pointing, telling, and guiding the process. To do this, I am embedding audio cues in the slides embedded in a Google Site.

Video source

The video above provides instructions and tips on how to do this in the latest iteration of Google Presentations. The essential steps are:

  1. Prepare a script.
  2. Record audio instructions as MP3 or WAV files.
  3. Upload the audio files in a shared folder in Google Drive.
  4. Insert each audio file to the slide that requires it (From the menu: Insert -> Audio -> select folder and file).
  5. Test the playback.

I have never actually “read” an entire book by audio. I am not sure why, but I am going to start on my first one today.

I have listened to bits and chapters because they were either samples or someone was playing something during a road trip. But I have never decided to read a book, or rather, have it read to me, despite all the offers in YouTube videos or podcasts.

I listen to podcasts of people I enjoy. I watch some of these people on YouTube. But I do not buy any of their books because they do not write about education.

Even though audio books have been around for a while, I wondered why I did not take the plunge. Perhaps I have not been read to since I was a child. Perhaps who reads it might make a difference. Perhaps I already read so much via my RSS and Twitter feeds that I might not have the bandwidth to read any more.

So why try an audio book only now? I find myself with a bit more spare time because I have “closed accounts” for the year. I would also like to learn how to use a new app. In particular, I want to know how easy it will be to find and use juicy quotes from what I “read”.

What will I be reading? Todd Rose’s The End of Average.

How am I reading it? With the Overdrive app, the default of many public libraries.

Shh, don’t bug me. I’m reading.

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