My first attempt at a ds106 assignment. I was reading Alan Levine’s post Building the No English Words Translation Tool about a new DS106 assignment Make The Untranslatable Understood the task is:

Use the Random Words with No English Translation tool to generate a word that could be better understood with a photo or image. Find a creative commons image or make your own, and include the word somehow in the image (using a desktop photo editor or web tool like Aviary or PicNIk). Then share it with someone and ask if it makes sense.

I click through a few and then got sidetracked (more about that later).

Today I reloaded the tool and Uitwaaien popped up.

“Literally, this Dutch word means to walk in the wind, but in the more figurative (and commonly used) sense, it means to take a brief break in the countryside to clear one’s head.”

I slightly disremembered this, thinking of head in the clouds which reminded me of the cover of On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious by Douglas Harding. This lead me to this (click for larger versions):

Uitwaaien 440

and this:

Uitwaaien Crop 440

Checking images for the cover of On Having No Head it seems that my memory was faulty again, not quite how I remembered it. Not to worry.

One of the resions I am joining in with ds106 is to learn how to photoshop, having a fairly unused copy on my work laptop, but here I went for my comfort zome of fireworks 8 (the last one with a really good edu discount). I mostly use fireworks for cropping and maybe dropping the odd shadow but Feathered selections and transparent gradients in Fireworks 3 go me on the right track

Howto 8

I faded the head a wee bit too much but I know how to do it now. I had 2 photos ofthe same place one with me in it one without (Credit to my daughter Christine). I tool my head area out of the photo without me and cropped it to a wee rect round my head as a layer on the photo of me. I then masked the layer with a graident as per instructuions.

EDUtalk 2011 a strong finish

I though with the previous post I’d finished blogging for the year, but this is too good to keep.

This morning firing off the EDUtalk bot brought in a couple of new podcast episodes one from iPadio and one from AudioBoo.

I is always interesting seeing what comes in to an open invite and the flow of posts on EDUtalk comes and goes, some times a trickle and occasionally a flood, I didn’t expect much over the holiday period.

The two posts today are both interesting and exciting in themselves and as an indication of a couple of recent branches that have developed on EDUtalk.

Hack Rap by Alan O’Donohoe

One Hack Rap by Alan O’Donohoe (teknoteacher) is a rap boo to attract pupils to computing, Alan has a great series of boos about introducing programming to pupils. His mission to TEACH COMPUTING not secretarial skills. Alan is Co-founder of the very exciting Hack To The Future. This hacking theme has been popping up fairly frequently on EDUtalk,for example Talking #Hackasaurus with @iamjessklein at #HiveLondon #MozFest by Doug Belshaw and a lot of Leon Cych‘s edutalk input. Leon has been one of the major EDUtalk contributors and posting a ton of fascinating eduhacking stuff there and on the Learn 4 Life site (where Hacking, mentoring and rapid prototyping as new models for learning is one of my favourites).

MAT4ESL iDeaCast 04 by Scottlo

MAT4ESL iDeaCast 04 by Scottlo this is Scottlo‘s second contribution to EDUtalk. The phlog has bee echoing round my brain all morning lots of exciting ideas for all sort of things. The Scottlo Radio Blog comes from Japan, Scott is a contributor to DS196 and involved in ds106 Radio which of course provided inspiration and instruction for Radio Edutalk. David and I have been JohnPosted on Categories DefaultLeave a comment on EDUtalk 2011 a strong finish

Joining DS106

I’ve been reading Jim Groom’s bavatuesdays for a few years and though it following ds106:

Digital Storytelling (also affectionately known as ds106) is an open, online course that happens at various times throughout the year.

DS106 is pretty off the wall, but I’ve been inspired by it several times:

It has occasionally crossed my mind to join in with the course, but the time involved and the creative focus made me reluctant. However I do feel there is a lot to be learnt and some fun to be had by following the course so I started thinking about it. I popped a question in the comment box on Jim’s blog about using pivotx, this blogs software instead of the more usual wordpress. Jim got back very quickly and set me up with an account on ds106 which makes the decision about joining in over;-)

I am a wee bit nervous about jumping into something that requires visual creativity. While I am happy enough editing images, audio and video I am not good at visual thinking or design (many webpages attest to this) I do hope to have some fun around the edges. I am encouraged by Jim’s do what you like and leave the rest and welcoming attitude. I am looking froward to finding out a bit more about how the wordpress mechanics pull the course together and investigating this openest of online learning opportunities for the perspective of a learner and with an eye on my day job.

I’d be interested in knowing if any other Scottish educators are taking the course, perhaps we could offer a bit of local support to each other.

If you are interested in ds105 and want to know more Jim Groom – Wednesday Morning Keynote on YouTube is a great, if crackly, 40 minute intro (the animated gif above if from this).

Radio Edutalk

Radio edutalk

Edutalk has now been running for over 2 years, we have published over 300 pieces of educational audio. These vary from TeachMeet recording, through to personal reflection by way of pupil podcasts. Hopefully theses provide interesting and educational listens.

One of the things that David and I talked about when we started EDUtalk was issuing a CD rom of recordings, this would perhaps have helped to keep older, still valuable, audio playing.

One of my thoughts about podcasts is that older episodes get forgotten about in a way that old blogs posts, through searching, do not.

REcently I’ve been reading about and listening to ds106 Radio and Stephen’s Downes’ Ed Radio. These are Internet radio stations. My interest was also stimulated by my daughter who is currently doing some pro bono work for Airing Pain « Pain Concern a podcast and internet radio.

I’ve alway believed (and gone on about) one of the benefits of podcasting over radio is its asynchronously. The potential audience for internet radio would seem to be less. A few things have made me think again:

A comment on Stephen Downes – Google+ about ED Radio:

That's the intent of Ed Radio, it's not something you really focus on, it's more background where you listen while you work & where something may or may not catch your attention.

Somewhere else, Stephen wrote about the interesting challenge of broadcasting to no listeners. Can’t find the quote at the moment.

on broadcasting to radio #ds106 | D’Arcy Norman dot net

How does the ability to instantly broadcast live audio to a group of people impact what we do? How does this instant synchronous connection effect the sense of social presence? And how does having to make the decision of streaming vs. recording effect the experience of sharing?

I’ve also been impressed by the quality of internet radio when streaming to a phone on g3 as well as wifi. So we though we would give this a go

How to

There are various posts on the how to set up a station but I basically went to Internet Radio Servers and set up an Icecast server on pay as you go. I then followed CogDog Guide to Nicecasting – CogDogBlog to test Nicecast. You can use Nicecast to broadcast from iTunes or a mix of iTunes and voice or even iTunes, voice and Skype. You can use Nicecast for an hour at a time for free and pay when you have tested it. I am using it on test mode at the moment. I have also tested the AutoDJ set up, where the station just streams from a set of mp3 you have uploaded via ftp. this seems to works well. Instructions on Internet Radio Servers are straightforward.

I’ve briefly tested Papaya Broadcaster a £2.99 iPhone & iPad app this seem to do the trick. allowing you to broadcast on the move.

A Plan

The costs at the moment £5 a month to host the AutoDJ files and £5 per 10GB broadcast. I am figuring with only a few listeners it will only be £10 a month to broadcast for an hour or so each night, using a variety of sources.

We have a few loose ideas of what to broadcast:

  • Broadcasting sets of audio from the Edutalk Archive on AutoDJ 7:30 to 8:30 each night. The hope is that folk will have it on in the background listening for serendipitous educational audio. I’ve not really worked out the queuing of the audio but will select some and mix then up every day or two. So far I’ve downloaded and converted to the correct samplerate & bitrate over 60 files.
  • Once a week on Wednesdays David and I will attempt some sort of skpye in show where folk can skype in for a chat, we still have to test this. This can be recorded and fed back into Edutalk as a podcast.
  • Curated sets from the Archive, using nicecast and iTunes, possibly opening it up to guest hosts.
  • Live event broadcasts, for example from a TeachMeet using Papaya Broadcaster.
  • Anything else we can dream up or is suggested…

Tech Tips (for geeky teachers)

It seems that you need to use files that all have the same sample rate, bitrate and number of channels. I’ve started off with 60-70 files downloaded from Edutalk , the problem is these do not all have the same sample rate, bitrate and number of channels This can be dome by opening and exporting the files from Audacity, or exporting them from iTunes. This could take quite a while. A quick google found a script for the Lame lib (That is used by Audacity to export mp3s), You need to instal Lame so that it is available for command line use, this sort of stuff can be daunting but worth it as a time saver.

What I did was open the Terminal, navigate to the folder full of mp3s (on a mac you can type cd and then drag a folder onto the terminal window), then you just put this int othe terminal window and hit return:

mkdir save && for f in *.mp3; do lame -m m -b 128 –resample 44.1 "$f" ./save/"${f%.mp3}.mp3"; done

What that does is make a new folder save inside the mp3 folder, then use lame to convert all the mp3s in the folder into new files in the save folder that all have a bitrate of 128, a sample rate of 44.12 and are mono files. Well worth doing if only to avoid having to see asave dialog 60 times.

How to listen

between 7:30 and 8:30 head over to Radio Edutalk – EDUtalk. A flash player should start when the page opens. There are also buttons to listen with winamp, Windows Media player, Real player or QuickTime. Hit the title song to open in iTunes.

I’d love to hear what folk think, ideas for broadcasts or cc licensed audio that could be played.