Make Sticky Media [Infographic]

Make Sticky Media [Infographic]

There are six principles of sticky ideas according to Dan and Chip Heath, authors of Made to Stick. Sticky ideas are ones that we can plainly understand, clearly remember, and easily retell. When teachers and students select or create educational media, they it them to be sticky.

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CNN Student News: iPods in Class

CNN Student News is one of my favorite educational podcasts. Early in the morning each school day, CNN makes available a 10 minute commercial-free newscast geared for middle and high schoolers. If you subscribe in iTunes, you can have the each episode automatically downloaded and ready to view on a computer or synced to mobile devices.

Recently CNN Student News had a segment called iPods in Class in their episode for October 18, 2010. It features high school math teacher Robert Tang. He he's managed to provide brand new iPod touches for his students. In the segment you can see a student taking advantage of the iPod touch's camera as he records part of Tang's lecture while taking notes. Another student talks about how useful FaceTime is when collaborating on homework. She can call up a classmate and talk face-to-face and even use the camera to show work on math problems.

While the video is no longer available in iTunes, you can still watch the segment online. iPods in Class begins at the 6:30 mark and is two minutes long. Below is part of the transcript. A full transcript of the episode is available too.


STEVE FISCHER, CBC NEWS REPORTER: Christmas came early for students in this grade 11 math class.

ROBERT TANG, LISGAR HIGH SCHOOL MATH TEACHER: Use your iPod Touch and get that out of your way.

FISCHER: Every student has been given one of these: not only to use during class, but to keep for the semester.

TANG: So, as you can see, mine is too small, but just by pinching it...

FISCHER: Five years ago, Robert Tang arranged to get the first SmartBoard in the school. He decided equipping the students with handheld devices was the obvious next step. Tang found a private sponsor to pay for the pilot project.

TANG: When I grew up, it was desktop computers. Then, it went to laptop computers, and now it's the handheld generation. And I think that's something that we can tap into, and the devices such as the iPod Touch is something that really lends itself well to the educational field.

FISCHER: After initially banning cell phones and other handheld technologies, school boards across the province are rethinking their policies. They certainly can be a distraction, but they also offer up a World Wide Web of educational opportunities. It didn't take Tang's students long to embrace the technology.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE STUDENT: It's really helpful, 'cause when he shows stuff on the board, you can look at it on your iPod Touch, and it's easier to see things, and it's interactive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE STUDENT: For example, I can get the math textbook and Mr. Tang's schedule, all on this little device.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE STUDENT: If I have any questions to ask, her screen pops up. I can see her face-to-face, ask her face-to-face, and see her work.

FISCHER: School officials say if the results are positive, they may consider expanding the program to other classes. Steve Fischer, CBC News, Ottawa.

Learning in Hand Podcast #23: Collecting & Organizing Voice Memos

Learning in Hand Podcast Episode #23: Collecting & Organizing Voice Memos explains how to sync voice memos from an iPod, iPod touch, or iPhone. Using Smart Playlists in iTunes, see how students and teachers can sync and automatically organize recordings. This process is essential in classrooms where teachers collect reading fluency samples, student reflections, and podcast segments.

Download, watch on YouTube or Vimeo, or view in iTunes all 6 minutes 12 seconds of Episode #23 for tips, how-tos, and ideas for collecting and organizing voice memos.

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Download the handouts mentioned in the episode:

Syncing with iTunes Handout
Emailing to Posterous Handout


This is the Learning in Hand Podcast. I'm Tony Vincent and this is the show where I share tips, how-tos, and ideas for handhelds in teaching and learning. Episode 23, “Collecting and Organizing Voice Memos” recorded August 2010, happens now!

iPod, iPod touch, and iPhone have the the ability to record voice memos. If your iPod doesn't have a built-in microphone, you can attach one like the Blue Mikey, Thumbtacks, or earbuds with mic.

I covered lots of information and uses for voice recording in Episode #14. There are many occasions where teachers want students to record audio. Whether it's to assess reading fluency, share reflections, record segments for a podcast, document a field trip, record a musical performance, or archive a discussion or interview, the teacher will most likely want to transfer the recording from the device to computer for listening and sharing.

Voice Memos can be transferred to iTunes by syncing. When synced, a Voice Memos playlist will appear if you don't already have one. All recordings are placed in this folder. By default, recordings are named by the date and time the recording started.

Once copied to iTunes, the recording is in two places: iTunes and the handheld. If you delete a voice memo on the handheld, it isn't deleted from the Voice Memos playlist in iTunes. But, if you delete a voice memo from iTunes, it is deleted from iPod touch the next time you sync.

That Voice Memos playlist isn't well organized. All you is see the date, time, and length of the recording. This is no good for the teacher who is collecting reading fluency samples--or collecting any kind of recordings. I'd like to show you how to use Smart Playlists in iTunes to automatically sort Voice Memos into playlists for each student. This makes it easy for teachers and students to find their own work.

First, set up a Smart Playlist for each student:

  1. Choose New Smart Playlist from the File menu.
  2. Set the rule to Artist contains and the student?s name. Click OK.
  3. Complete the steps above for each student.
  4. For each smart playlist, click View Options from the View menu. Remove all checkmarks except Artist, Time, and Comments.
  5. When a voice memo is added and Artist is changed to the student?s name, it will automatically appear in the student?s smart playlist.

So then here's how it works:

  1. A student records using the Voice Memos app on iPod touch. The student should say his or her name at the beginning of the recording.
  2. Connect to the computer. The recording should appear in iTunes? Voice Memos playlist. You may have to click Yes if a dialog box appears asking if you would like to copy voice memos to your iTunes library.
  3. Select the Voice Memos playlist.
  4. Click View Options from iTunes? View menu. Checkmark Artist and Comments and click OK. Also select as List from the View menu. (These actions only have to be done once).
  5. Play the recording and listen for the student?s name. Press Pause and click the recording?s Artist. Change the Artist to the student?s name. Be consistent about spelling and whether you use last names or initials.
  6. Optionally, click under Comments to add any additional information about the recording.
  7. You may delete the items in the Voice Memos playlist after you have added Artist information. This way the Voice Memos playlist shows only recordings that have not yet been tagged with a student?s name.
    You can place your smart playlists into a folder. Create a folder by choosing New Playlist Folder from the File menu. Name the folder. Then drag and drop each student?s playlist onto the folder. This is really handy for computers that are shared among multiple classes.

Having sorted recordings is helpful for collecting portfolio artifacts, grading, and easy access for students to incorporate into their projects.

There are of course variations to the process I've shown you. For example, if only one student uses each iPod, you can name each iPod the same as the student. When synced, the iPod's name is shown in the Artist's field and will automatically sort without you having to listen for a name.

Another way to collect and organize recording is to have student email from their iOS handheld to Posterous. Watch episode #21 for more info. At you'll find a handout with the steps for using Posterous for collecting student-made recordings. You'll also find a handout with the steps for setting up Smart Playlists like I've shown in this episode.

That's it for Episode 23. For a transcript and much more about iPods, iPads, and podcasting, click on over to Thanks for watching!

Slide2Learn Ustream Session

I had the opportunity to present "Creating Podcasts and Narrated Slideshows in Your Hand" to educators attending the Slide2Learn Mobile Learning Event in Shepparton, Victoria, Australia. I was 8,000 miles away in Phoenix, so I spoke to the conference-goers through Ustream. Check out the 45 minute recording.

Description: Pod touch and iPad and their vast  library of apps make it possible for teachers and students to create compelling audio and video podcasts. Learn how educators and learners can plan, record, edit, and publish audio podcasts without the need for a desktop or laptop computer. Furthermore, explore the possibilities  when multiple apps can be used to create narrated slideshows where students can interact with content and show their learning in a multi-sensory way. The slideshows they create can be shared on the web and viewed on other devices. Learning is in hand when you create and share media on an iPod touch or iPad!

The recording starts with a few technical issues, but we get past them. While watching, see if you can spot my cat Dewey. Just like in past broadcasts, he loves to try to be a part of of the show.

iOS Apps Mentioned:

  • Idea Sketch: Free mind-mapping and outlining.
  • Voice Memos: Built-in app for recording. Microphone required.
  • Photos: Built-in app where photos are saved and where they can be imported into other apps.
  • iDoodleIt: Free drawing app.
  • Glow Draw!: Draw with glowing colors on a black canvas.
  • Color Magic: Color parts of a black and white photo.
  • Comic Touch: Add speech bubbles to an image.
  • Pixter: Combine photos into a scrapbook-type image.
  • Photoshop Mobile: Crop, color, and enhance photos.
  • SonicPics: Record a narration over a series of images.

Websites Mentioned:

Audacity Download Woes

This has been an issue for years: People intending to download Audacity and instead end up paying $39 for AVS Audio Editor.

Audacity is free and open source software for Linux, Macintosh, and Windows. You should never have to pay for it. Audacity is used by lots of podcasters because of its cost, and because it is great for recording voices. Audacity supports multiple tracks, so podcasters can import music and sound effects to add to their voice recording. There are a variety of effects that can be applied to the audio, and Audacity gives total control of the volume of each track.

So, how are potential podcasters being duped into installing AVS Audio Editor?

They are being mislead into clicking on an ad., the official download site for Audacity, asks for you to wait several seconds for the download to start. While you wait, there is an ad for AVS Audio Editor, which is software not associated with Audacity. The thing is the advertisement has a large Download Now button. Since Audacity hasn't begun to download, glancing a the page can make you think that you need to click the download button. When clicked, your download of Audacity is canceled, and you are whisked away to where you are prompted to download their commercial software.

AVS Audio Editor is Windows-only software so Linux and Mac users probably won't see the ad when they download Audacity. But is AVS Audio Editor any good? I have no idea. Audacity does what I need it to do and is free. To learn more about using Audacity download Podcasting for Teachers & Administrators or watch my screencast at the Arizona K12 Center Blog.

Learning in Hand Podcast #21: Podcast from iPod touch

Learning in Hand: iPodsLearning in Hand Podcast Episode #21: Podcast from iPod touch is about recording an audio podcast and publishing it using only an iPod touch--no Mac or PC required. See how the free blogging service Posterous makes this possible.

Watch all 11 minutes 23 seconds of Episode #21 to learn about recording and sharing podcasts from iPod touch.


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This is the Learning in Hand podcast. I’m Tony Vincent and this is the show where I share tips, how-tos, and ideas for handhelds in teaching and learning. Episode 21, “Podcast from iPod touch” recorded March 2010, happens now!

You already know that iPod touch makes it fairly easy to listen to podcasts. You can subscribe in iTunes on your Mac or PC and sync the audio and video episodes to your iPod. Or, you can even launch the iTunes app on your iPod to browse and search for episodes to download directly onto your device.

There are so many ways to produce and publish a podcast. It almost always involves a Mac or PC running software like GarageBand, Audacity, iMovie, or MovieMaker. Then the finished audio or video file is uploaded to the web and a web feed is made. The web feed tells software like iTunes that a new episode is available.

In this episode I'd like to show you how I make an audio podcast using the free web service Posterous.

A podcast usually has three components: the audio or video file, a web page or blog post, and a web feed. With an iPod touch, it's actually possible to record an audio podcast and publish it to a Posterous website, all on the iPod itself. Here's how:

First, you will need a microphone for your iPod touch. The current generation of iPod touches do not have built-in microphones. That's the bad news. The good news is that your iPod may have come with a mic and you don't even know it. If not, you can purchase an attachable mic.

The current 32 and 64GB iPod touches come with earbuds with a mic. These mics work pretty well--you just have to make sure they are plugged in. It's difficult to have more than one person talk into these. If your iPod didn't come with these earbuds, you can buy them. I recommend buying from They sell them for less than $4 each.

The Belkin TuneTalk is a microphone that attaches to the dock connector. Mics that connect to the dock tend more expensive but sound better. The TuneTalk is available from Amazon for $50.

If you don't want to spend that much, then find a mic that attaches to the headphone jack. The ThumbTacks mic is pretty tiny and about $15. Though, these really could get mixed up with your collection of real thumbtacks.

The Voice Memos app has very basic editing tools. You can trim the start of the recording and the end. You cannot trim the middle. So don't make mistakes in the middle of your recording.

To get the audio file off the iPod, you can sync it with iTunes or Email it. Since we're podcasting all from the iPod, we're going to use the email option. This requires that an email address be set up. If you don't have email on the iPod, I suggest going to and creating a new account. Then add that account to the iPod touch in the Settings app.

Here's where comes in. Posterous is web publishing service that bills itself as "the dead simple place to post everything." Like Blogger, Wordpress, and countless others, Posterous is a blogging platform. Unlike others, Posterous focuses on publishing by email.

Before emailing Posterous, I suggest setting up an account and a blog. You can see my Posterous blog at I actually have my own domain for this blog, so it redirects you the URL, You can see that it is certainly a blog because it is organized in reverse chronological order.

To post, I just email to When emailing from Voice Memos, it attaches the audio to the email message. The subject of the email is the title of the post. The body of the email is the content of the post.

But, not only is this a blog post, it can be a web feed for iTunes. So, the title of the post is the title of the episode and the body of the email is the description of the episode.

Unless you've verified your email with Posterous, you will have to log into Posterous to approve the emailed posts. I've verified my email, so my recording is added to the top of my blog within minutes.

That's it. I just recorded on an iPod touch and emailed it to Posterous where it is now online as a blog. I can listen to the audio by clicking it in my browser on my desktop or the Safari browser on an iPod touch.

So, what about making it a podcast?

Remember, a podcast has 3 components: A website, audio file, and web feed. Posterous generates all three for us. The website is the blog and the audio file is uploaded to Posterous as well. If you look at your Posterous blog, you'll see the web feed symbol. Sometimes this is called a news feed or RSS feed.

Know that your podcast does not have to be listed in the iTunes Store for people to subscribe. You can certainly submit the podcast to the iTunes Store if you want it listed in their directory, but that's optional.

Let me show you three ways to get that RSS feed into iTunes.

One way is to go to your Posterous blog and right-click the web feed symbol and copy the link. Then go to iTunes and click the Advanced Menu and choose Subscribe to Podcast. Paste the URL and click OK. You're subscribed. That means the latest episode is downloaded and iTunes will periodically check for new episodes. If there's a new one, it will download it.

Another way to subscribe in iTunes is to drag and drop the web feed icon from the blog right into your iTunes Library.

Both of these methods will take a little explaining if you plan to have parents, the community, or colleagues subscribe. Most likely you're linking to your podcast from a class website. When liking from a webpage, you can set-up one click subscriptions. That's right, with one click, a user's iTunes opens and they are subscribed to your podcast. This involves first copying the web feed URL by right-clicking the icon. When you go to link to this on your website, paste it as you a regular link. Unlike a regular web link, change the http to itpc. The itpc tells web browsers to launch iTunes and subscribe to that feed. Pretty cool, huh?

Optionally, before doing all this, you may want to run your feed through the free service. Feedburner lets you create an iTunes feed that includes artwork and extra information. It also tracks how many subscribe to your podcast.

At this time Posterous does not support video podcasting, only audio. But it's a great deal. For free you get 1GB of space. Audio is about 1MB per minute, so you will have at least 20 hours of audio before you reach the limit.

Ok. So why would teachers and students want to podcast from their handheld? I can think of lots of reasons. Sharing information and thoughts with the world is incredibly empowering and students are be more motivated knowing there's an audience for what they have to say. The audience might be the world or their peers. Consider this: small group discussions are recorded and uploaded for other groups to hear.

Like podcasting from big computers, students can share book reviews, curriculum insights, poetry, math and science discoveries, name it! Teachers can share homework information, class announcements, extra name it!

These podcasts don't have to be public. Posterous blogs can be password protected, so just the teacher (and maybe students and parents) have access. This means students can record reflections, group discussions, passages for reading fluency, etc. on an iPod touch and email them to Posterous. The teacher subscribes and can listen to each one in iTunes. This might work better than trying to figure out how to sync all of those voice memos. It also allows the teacher to listen from any computer, not just the computer the iPods where synced to.

You can set up as many Posterous blogs as you like, each with it's own URL and receiving address. That means that each student could be set up with his or her own Posterous email, blog, and podcast. A personal blog and postcast could surely make a handy multimedia portfolio.

One final tip for this episode. Add the Posterous email address to the Contacts app on the iPod touch. This way no typos will be made when entering the email address. Just typing the first couple letters autocompletes the address.

That’s it for Episode 21. For a transcript and much more about iPods and podcasting, click on over to Thanks for watching!

Create It in Your Hand, Share It with the World

Below is some of my 30 minute talk at Handheld Learning 2009 in London.
The presentation is called
Create It in Your Hand, Share It with the World.

Create it in Your Hand Title

I decided to become a teacher when I was in sixth grade. From then on I studied each and every teacher I had and analyzed each and every activity they had me do. As a student I vowed to remember what I liked and didn’t like like when I was finally the one in charge.

I was lucky enough to have Palm computers for my fifth grade students in 2001. I would have very much liked a handheld computer when I was 12 years old. Though, I’m afraid that even if they were available in the 80s, most of my teachers wouldn’t have used them in very engaging ways.

Palm Apps SlideAs a teacher, I tried hard to use the handhelds in my classroom as creatively as possible. Of course I wanted to make learning fun. Boredom is the enemy of learning. We had about 50 apps we used on the Palms. Most all of the apps were drill and skill apps. Which, don’t get me wrong, were great. My handheld-equipped students learned their multiplication tables, historical figures, and science vocabulary faster than they would have with ordinary tools. Even with thousands of Palm apps, it was sometimes hard to find or adapt apps to move beyond drill and practice.

My favorite handheld today is the iPod touch. It’s amazing to compare the number of iPod touch and iPhone apps to the number of apps for the Palm Operating System. Ten years after the launch of the Palm OS, we have 30,000 apps for Palm devices. After little over a year since the launch of the App Store for iPhone and iPod touch, we have 85,000 apps, with and average of 46 new ones being added each day. There’s just got to be some good ones for students, right?

Name Tag Web AppOf course, many of them are silly or frivolous. In fact, this name tag on the screen is actually a web app for iPod touch. Just point your mobile browser to and input your name. Presto! You are now holding a very expensive name tag.

But peeking into the App Store, there are plenty of apps for learning. Multiple-choice quizzes, flash cards, math games, and the like are plentiful.

Benjamin Bloom ranked thinking skills from lower order to higher order in 1956. Bloom’s Taxonomy helps teachers classify the objectives we set for students. Like we just saw, there, are plenty of titles in the App Store that address lower order thinking skills, like remembering, understanding, and applying.

Anderson and Krathwohl have slightly reworked Bloom’s Taxonomy for the 21st Century. What’s the highest order thinking skill? Creating.

New Bloom's SlideCreation VerbsThree Products Slide

Creating is reorganizing elements to form a new functional whole. In order to create, you have to evaluate. But in order to evaluate, you must be able to analyze. In order to analyze, you have to understand. And to understand something, you must be able to remember things about it. So, creating is the ultimate activity.

As a student and as an adult, I love to create things. In sixth grade I produced a video about the U.S.‘s Strategic Defense Initiative. It wasn’t exactly assigned by the teacher, but I didn’t care. I wanted to learn how to make a movie and share it with my classmates. As you can see, there are lots of verbs associated with Creating. I enjoyed planning, producing, and broadcasting that video.

American writer John Updike wrote, “Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or doing it better.” We can kind-of-sort-of make our students care by holding grades over their heads. But that’s not authentic. Educators can invent activities (or have students invent activities) that are creative and that they will be excited to share with an audience.

I’d like to share with you three kinds of products that can be created on an iPod touch or iPhone: Comics, Animations, and Audio Podcasts.

Comic Touch ExampleComics are a great way to synthesize information. The combination of images and text can be fun to plan and fun to read. Comics may sound like fluff, but consider that last year Google commissioned a comic book to tell the world about why they are making the Chrome web browser and the technologies inside of it.

Comic Touch and Comic Touch Lite are two of a few iPod touch apps where you can create comics. You can import any saved image into Comic Touch and layer text bubbles on top of it. There are also some limited special effects you can apply to the image. Where can you get images?

You can save images from the web. Mobile Safari makes it easy. Simply tap and hold an image and the Save Image option will appear. The image will be saved into your Saved Photo album, which is accessible in Comic Touch.

I want to share my comics on my website. I have to think about copyright--I should have permission to use copyrighted images. So I use Creative Commons licensed images. You can search for images that are labeled for reuse using Google Image Search. However, you have to choose to do an Advanced Search from the Classic view first. Then you can select to only search for images that are copyright friendly. I suggest bookmarking the Advanced Image Search page or saving it as an icon to your Home screen.

Screenshot SlideYou can also save screenshots of what’s on your iPod’s screen. Hold down the Sleep/Wake button on top of the device and quickly press the Home button. The screen will flash and you’ll hear a camera sound. The screenshot is now in your Saved Photos album.

I think it’s fun to take screenshots inside of Google Maps. Sure, you can take screenshots of the satellite view, but it’s much more fun to go into Street View and take screenshots. Whenever I have a pin on the screen, I can tap the orange and white Street View icon to go into street view. Here’s I’m in Washington D.C. taking photos of the Supreme Court Building.

I can use these images from my virtual field trip in a comic. Another comic-creation app is Strip Designer. Strip Designer lets me have up to three panels in my comic.

Let me show you a comic I made using images from Street View and images I’ve saved in Safari. My goal is to tell about the three branches of the U.S. government and their role in a particular issue. I chose mandated health insurance as the issue. I ended up with three two-panel comics. I was able to save them in high resolution and email them to myself. If I was a student, I could email them to the teacher. The teacher could then put them up on a class website. Or, many blogging and photo services allow for posting directly from email. The comic I just made in my hand is just an email away from being published for the world to see! (Watch a video that explains how I made the comic.)

US Government Comic

Jigsaw SlideFor even more fun, I could save my comic to photo or save a classmates comic to then use an app like Ali’s Jigsaw Puzzle to turn the comic in a jigsaw I can put back together by dragging the pieces around my screen.

So comics are a fantastic way for students to piece together their learning and share it with others. Now on to animations.

A favorite Palm app of my students’ was Sketchy. We could draw directly on the screen, duplicate the frame, make a change, and then duplicate the frame again until a masterpiece was created. When played in a row, you’ve got yourself an animation.

Planning and drawing a animation can take time, but it’s time well spent. The learner is interacting with content in a creative way and he or she enjoys sharing the final creation with others. Heck, they’ll watch their own creation over and over again.

Flipbook and Flipbook Lite are two of a handful of animation apps for iPod touch. It’s tricky to draw without a stylus and there’s no text tool. But there are useful features like layers and onion skinning. Then, when done, users can publish the animation to, where the file can be viewed by others and saved as mp4 video files. View samples.

Like comics, animations are great way for students to sythesize their learning and present it to others.

Record SlideThe third kind of product people can create on iPod touch are audio podcasts. There are a variety of apps for recording audio. The catch is that iPod touch lacks a built-in microphone. There are mics that attach to the connector on the bottom of the device. Or, you can buy earbuds with a build-in mic like the iPhone has.

When making audio recordings, I usually like to record directly into my laptop so I can edit and arrange the audio as I record. But, in classrooms where there aren’t enough computers or students need to record in the field, iPod touch can be made into a little podcast studio.

Let me play a short clip from a field trip I took recently. (Download the clip.) In Tucson, Arizona there is the Sonoran Desert Museum. Yes, there’s a museum in the desert about the desert. It was a really hot summer day. I took a break under a tree and felt a light, cool mist. I thought maybe the museum rigged up something for their guests to keep cool. I asked a couple docents under the tree where the mist was coming from...

I used an iPod to make a sound-seeing tour of my trip. I was forced to describe what I saw during my excursion.

Trimming Option SlideThe Voice Memos app is a pretty straight-forward app for voice recording. Besides a trimming option, it has a handy feature of being able to email recordings as an attachment. That’s great because the blogging service Posterous lets you post podcasts by email! Simple email the recording from Voice Memos to your Posterous email. It’s automatically posted to the blog and has a news feed so it can be subscribed to in iTunes.

Now, schools probably want to screen audio recordings before they are posted. Instead of emailing Posterous, students email to their teacher who could then post it after approving the content. It’s exciting that something recorded during a field trip can be instantly published online.

Comics, Animations, and Podcasts are just three of many creative endeavors that can be done on an iPod touch or iPhone. In fact, you don’t need an Apple product to create--other phones and handhelds have similar apps. But the key is letting students create. Letting them create something they care about because they are sharing with, educating, or helping others. Another key to success is letting students choose what kind of product they are going to create--give them a choice of making a series of comics, an animation, or podcast.

12 Year Old Tony VincentTwelve-year-old and thirty-four-year-old Tony Vincent both enjoy having choice. Giving choice engages learners because everyone likes to have a say in what they do. After using these apps for a while, students will get a sense of what they like to create--let them choose!

I worked with a school in Phoenix last month and I received an email from one of the high school’s English teachers. After showing how to create comics with students, Jason wrote, “It all of a sudden has become important to my students to get the information right, which isn’t always the case when they do a ‘worksheet.’”

If you’re interested in iPods, I have created a podcast called Learning in Hand: iPods. Like Jason’s students, it is important for me to get the information right in my podcast because I know that thousands of teachers download what I've created and shared. I learn so much in the process.

Myna: Browser-Based Audio Editor

MynaMyna is a new browser-based audio editor from that is a lot like GarageBand and Audacity. Because it's browser-based, Myna requires no software to be installed and works on Mac, Linux, and Windows computers. With Myna, you can:

  • Record your voice, up to 60 seconds at a time
  • Import audio
  • Choose from thousands of high-quality musical loops, intros, and ends
  • Drag and drop audio clips
  • Trim and loop clips
  • Add fade-ins and fade-outs
  • Add effects like reverb and pitch change
  • Save your project on and embed an mp3 on your site with provided code
  • Download to your desktop as mp3 or wav

Here's an example music remix made in Myna (Click "Open in Audio Editor" to see and edit the tracks and timeline).

GarageBand podcasters will feel right at home, as the tracks, timeline, and libraries are set up much like GarageBand's. I find the selection of loops to be incredible. I think some podcasters will create music in Myna and then import it into GarageBand or Audacity. That's because recording audio directly in Myna can only be done in 60 second chunks and requires processing and uploading time after each recording. Of course, you could use Garageband or Audacity to record your audio and then import it into Myna as well.

Myna's library is limited to musical loops. If you needed sound effects, you could certainly download them from sites like SoundSnap and import into your Myna project.

All Myna projects are automatically shared on If you want to keep projects private, you'll have to upgrade to the Pro version for $25 per year. Though, after downloading a project's mp3, you can delete it from Myna and it would no longer appear on

Keep in mind that because it's web-based, you will need to create an account in order to save your work. Since your project is stored on the web, it can be accessed from any computer with Internet access. That means students could start an audio project at school and finish at home.

The musical loops in Myna are licensed for non-commercial use, making Myna very useful in schools, particularly for podcasting. Many would pay money for software that does what Myna does for free!

See how Myna works in the site's instructional YouTube video:

Upcoming on Ustream: Podcast Picks

Podcast GirlPlease join me on Wednesday, September 30th for Podcast Picks! This free online workshop is in partnership with SIGML and will be similar to Picks from the App Store recorded live in April. Here's the description:

So many podcasts, so little time! With tens of thousands of podcasts and millions of episodes it can be hard to find the very best ones for teaching and learning. Tony Vincent shares some of his favorite podcasts on Wednesday, September 30th at 3PM Pacific/6PM Eastern on Tony will present his podcast picks for teachers and students for part of the hour. The other part of the hour is reserved for participants to share their own picks and to ask questions. You can participate by calling in your picks via Skype. This is also a great time to promote your own educational podcast or your class’ podcast. View the live workshop and join the chat room at

Before the beginning of the workshop, sign up for a free Ustream account so that you can pick out a username for the chat. To create a new account, simply click Sign Up, which is located in the top-left of each page.

Participants are encouraged to have microphones and Skype ready so they can talk about their own podcast picks and so they can ask questions. While the workshop will be recorded and archived, I really hope you can join us live.

90-Minutes About Podcasting & iPods

Last month I co-presented a webinar about podcasting and handhelds for the Texas High School Project. It was recorded and is archived on the THSP Webinar Series page. The best part of the 90-minute webinar is when Marcy Voss and fellow teachers at the Boerne ISD talk about their iPod project. They discuss the logistics and challenges associated with giving high schoolers iPods. Boerne ISD also shared their iPod User Contract.

Click to launch the Podcasting: Placing Learning in the Students' Hands webinar.
The webinar was presented and recorded using Adobe Connect.

Podcasting Webinar

Podcasting Yields Higher Scores than Attending the Lecture

PodcastingI've been fascinated by the idea that teachers could flip-flop lectures and homework. Lectures could be podcasted (and put on DVD for those without internet) and assigned as the "homework," allowing for class time to be spent on discussion, collaboration, and reteaching. In July I wrote about a pair of high school chemistry teachers who are doing this very thing with great success.

The article "iTunes University" Better Than the Real Thing in last week's New Scientist reports the findings in a study from the State University of New York called Can Podcasts Replace Professors. The study found that students who listened to podcasted lectures performed better on tests over the lecture material than students who actually attended the lecture in person.

The study used 64 Psychology 101 students. Half of the students listened to an enhanced podcast (that's showing the lecture's slides along with playing the audio). The other half were given a print out of the slides and were present for the lecture.

Students who were in the podcast group averaged a 71% while those in the lecture group scored a 64% average when tested over the material in the podcast/lecture. However, those who listened to the podcast and did not take notes scored that same as those that attended the lecture. Those in the podcasting group that took notes averaged 77%.

These results would certainly be different in a K-12 environment. But, it makes sense that when students can pause, rewind, and rewatch a lecture they learn the material better. Podcasting lecture material has the added benefit of changing what can be accomplished during class time.

NASA's Do-It-Yourself Podcast

DIY PodcastNASA is providing some raw digital materials for students that they can combine to make videos, audio recordings, and slide shows about selected science topics. They are calling this a Do-It-Yourself Podcast.

Currently there are three topics: Lab Safety, Newton's Laws, and Spacesuits. For each topic, NASA provides video clips, audio clips, images, and information. Students can edit together what NASA provides with their own video, voice, and/or images. Software like iMovie, MovieMaker, GarageBand, Audacity, and PowerPoint could be used for the do-it-yourself podcast.

I think it's exciting to see the final products with a project like this. Although students have access to the same digital materials, each and every project will turn out differently. NASA encourages teachers to share students' products online in the form of a podcast. If it's a movie I think a great place to share it online is TeacherTube.

NASA has a blog dedicated to giving teachers guidance for the Do-It-Yourself Podcast. In addition, the blog will let the world know when new topics are added.

Managing Podcast Creation in the Classroom

Peggy QuestionsPeggy Hilleary in Georgia is a fifth grade teacher who attended a podcasting workshop I lead a couple months ago. She emailed me with her ideas for managing podcast creation and has some questions.

Dear Tony, I had a great workshop with you in the fall at Woodward Academy in Georgia. And now I am finally taking the plunge with my two fifth grade classes. But I need your help in working out the logistics. And let me say that I will be the first in my school to do such a big project with a whole class. So I don't have any help here. Hope you can help me. Just before our winter break I followed your model of having the students listen to some of your students' podcasts. They really enjoyed them, and they really began to see patterns and qualities important to a successful podcast. After winter break I am ready to put my students into teams of about 10. That will be 2 to a classroom, for a total of 4 episodes being written, then taped, then worked out on the computer with Audacity, adding music and organizing the podcast.

I really like how Peggy has thought this through. A key to successful student podcasting is clear organization. Like most classroom situations, if you don't think it through, the whole activity could become a disaster. Here are some of Peggy's questions and my answers to her:

Is this too much for me to handle--making 4 episodes at once? I do have a teaching assistant, and I do know iMovie very well, so I am familiar with the process of production with script, music, editing, etc.

Four episodes at a time is good because you have the whole class working on it at once. And if you've had movie-making experience, making an audio podcast is much easier, especially from a classroom management stand-point. Just be sure that each student has a specific role so they aren't left out of the process.

If this is something you think is doable, how much time do you think it will take from beginning to end? These 4 episodes will be a series on the theme of "Journeys and Quests." Each one of the podcasts will have almost the same segments, giving the 4-part series some unity along with the theme.

I like consistency you have planned in the series. It will take the most time to research and write and edit scripts. You'll want to give plenty of time for this since it's so important. I'd say a week of writing and then to record and edit, another week. And, with it being a podcast, don't feel you need to publish them all at once. In fact, having one published once a week would be good because then it would give listeners a reason to subscribe in iTunes.

If you do believe my process sounds ok, will I then need 4 computers, one for each team? What software will I need to load on it? iTunes? Audacity? Anything else?

Four computers would work best--especially if they can be laptops so students can go to quiet places to record. You'll want Audacity on them (or GarageBand is a great Mac alterative). iTunes is only necessary on the computer you'll plan to publish from--so as long as you have it on yours. Also, on one computer, have the free Levelator software. Levelator will even out the volume throughout the podcasts so that sounds aren't too faint or too loud. Follow my Podcasting booklet on how to use Levelator and then iTunes to give the audio file tags and export as an MP3.

What advice do you have for me in how to make this successful? I do hope to publish it on iTunes, and I hope it will actually be something other students might enjoy.

To make the best podcast, you really need to read and edit the students' scripts--maybe even for two or three rounds of editing until they are just right. It's so much better to catch misinformation, confusing sentences, and poor planning before students start recording. Also important before recording is that students practice reading their scripts (perhaps in front of the class so the class can give constructive feedback). That way when they do record, they've have an awesome script and have had coaching on how to make it sound the best.

I'm sure Peggy's fifth graders will do a smashing job thanks to the thought she's putting into how she's managing the project!

A Powerful Commercial That Features Podcasts

Kaplan University has a great commercial that's been airing on television. The spot features a professor apologizing to students for a system that has failed them. I really like how about half-way through the 60-second commercial you can see the professor appearing on computer, phone, and iPod screens as a podcast.

The commercial has several great sound bites, including:

"It's time to use technology to rewrite the rules of education."

"It's time to learn how you learn so we can teach you better."


iPod touch and Microphones

iPod touch with Voice RecordersUnlike iPhone, iPod touch does not sport a built-in microphone. Thanks to a recent software update, the second generation iPod touch (with volume buttons on the left side) can now use add-on microphones like TuneTalk from Belkin and iTalk Pro from Griffin. These microphones attach to iPod's dock connector. iPod touch also supports microphones that use the headphone port like Apple's Earphones with Mic or Incipio's new $18 Lloyd microphone for iPod 4G (which does indeed work with iPod touch, it just doesn't fit nicely).

In order to record audio with iPod touch, you'll need to download an app. Luckily, a search for voice recorder in the App Store reveals over a dozen applications. In that search, you'll come across the free iTalk Recorder. iTalk Recorder is super easy to use. Unlike when you record with click-wheel iPods, you can name the recording and type in notes to go along with it. I like that you can pause a recording, listen to what you have, and then continue that recording. There are three quality settings: Good, Better, and Best. Here's what iTalk Recorder's support page says about the file sizes associated with these settings:

  1. The length of your recordings are only limited by two things: Your disk space and your recording quality.
  2. An hour-long recording will take up 75MB if you're set to Good recording quality, 150MB when set to Better quality, and 300MB when set to Best quality.
  3. Or, to look at it another way, a gigabyte will store 800 minutes if you have your recording quality set to Good, 400 minutes when set to Better, and 200 minutes when set to Best.
iTalk Recorder iTalk Recorder

iTalk Recorder IconEven if iTalk Recorder is set on the best quality, you should have plenty of space on an 8GB iPod touch. Now, what happens when you want to copy the recordings to your computer? First, you should know that iPod touch only syncs some of Apple's built-in app to iTunes. Additional apps you install have to figure out how to get their information and files from the iPod to your desktop without syncing with iTunes. You might recall that for Comic Touch, you can email your comics to yourself or you can send the comic to the Photos app. Since Photos is an original Apple app, it does sync with the desktop. As for iTalk Recorder, to transfer recordings, you must download and install iTalk Sync, free software for Windows and Macintosh.

Despite its name, you do not actually sync to use iTalk Sync. Instead, the iPod touch and computer need to be on the same Wi-Fi network. iTalk Sync must be running on the desktop and iTalk Recorder must be launched on the iPod touch. iTalk Sync will display a list of iPod touches and iPhones on the network that have iTalk Recorder running. Choose a device and once Yes is tapped on the iPod touch, iTalk Sync will display all of the iPod's recordings. You can drag and drop the recordings or click the iTunes button to copy them to your iTunes Music Library. If any notes have been input with the recording, they are copied to the desktop as a text file.

iTalk Sync

The audio file itself is in AIFF format. Most audio editing software can import AIFF. AIFF audio files are quite large compared to MP3, so you'll want to use iTunes or Audacity to export the audio as MP3. But first, you can certainly edit the audio with software like GarageBand or Audacity.

iTalk Recorder works really well and is free. But, the free app will display small banner ads along the bottom of the screen. If you want to remove the ads, you can pay $4.99 for iTalk Recorder Premium. The only different between the free app and the $4.99 app is that the premium app does not display advertisements.

There are so many ways to use a mobile voice recorder in the classroom. Apple has some interesting lesson plans listed on their iPod in the Classroom page. A use I have for a voice recorder is for making podcasts. Have a listen to the first half of Learning in Hand: iPods #14: Voice Recording for voice recording examples and ideas.

There are other apps besides voice recorders that you can use with an attachable iPod touch microphone. For example, check out the interesting Agile Lie Detector, a Heart Monitor that really works, a virtual recorder instrument, and a musical note tuner.

12 Days of iPod touch continues tomorrow when I share some games that are fit for a classroom.

iPod touch and Podcasts

Like other iPods, the iPod touch is perfect for podcasts. Just like click-wheel iPods, the podcasts you have subscribed to in iTunes on your Windows or Macintosh computer are automatically transferred to the touch when synced. If a podcast has artwork, it is displayed on the large screen. Video podcasts look awesome on an iPod touch because of that large screen.

Music App IconSomething that I don't like is that all audio synced from iTunes is found in the Music app--even if the audio is not actually music. That means you have to tap the Music icon to access podcasts. By the way, video podcasts are found in both the Music and Videos apps.

Unlike click-wheel iPods, you can download podcast episodes on an iPod touch without syncing. You'll just need a Wi-Fi internet connection. When in the Music app under Podcasts, tap a podcast to see its episode listing. At the bottom of the screen you'll notice Get More Episodes. Tap that and the mobile iTunes app on the touch will launch and take you to the complete episode listing for that podcast. In iTunes, tapping the Free button downloads that episode onto your iPod. Once the download is complete, the episode appears in the Music app, listed with the other episodes of the podcast. Unfortunately, if a podcast is not listed publicly in the online iTunes Store directory, then its episodes will not appear in mobile iTunes either.


The podcasts section of mobile iTunes is no where near as extensive as that of desktop iTunes, but you can drill down to specific categories. For example, you can get to my favorite category: Education > K-12. The mobile directory is certainly not a complete listing, however doing a search for podcast titles will reveal the podcasts you're looking for. The search seems pretty limited and does not search for individual episode topics--only podcast titles and keywords.

iTunes Education K12

StreamingAs an alternative to downloading an episode (which is saved in the Music app), you can stream episodes in the iTunes app. Streaming does not display an episode's artwork and you cannot access an episodes lyrics/notes, but streaming can be handy if you don't want to wait for the episode to download completely. Besides not showing artwork, a problem with streaming is that the audio or video may have to pause for buffering and if you exit the iTunes app, then the playback stops and what's been streamed is not saved.

As much as I'm glad mobile iTunes has podcast download and stream capabilities, there are some limitations to note:

  • You cannot subscribe to podcasts, only download individual episodes.
  • You cannot input a podcast's RSS feed--a podcast must be submitted to the iTunes Store and approved for it to be listed.
  • iPhones using the cellular network cannot download episode files larger than 10MB. Almost all episodes are larger than 10MB.
  • Oftentimes movie files listed in mobile iTunes cannot be played on the iPod touch and you're given the warning, "This movie could not be downloaded."
  • All that great content in iTunes U is not listed.
  • The whole process of downloading an episode in mobile iTunes seems clunky. I'm guessing Apple will improve this feature in future software updates.

Having the ability to download podcast episodes right there on the iPod touch is a useful feature. Busy educators often don't have time to sync their iPods. With a classroom set of iPods, syncing often is logistically be difficult. When students bring their personal iPods to school, it's not a good idea for them to sync with school computers. So, it was a smart move for Apple to include podcasts in mobile iTunes as a way to get educational content on an iPod touch without the hassle of syncing with a desktop computer.

Tomorrow's 12 Days of iPod touch is about voice recording--recordings that could be used for a podcast.

Flip Video Camera

Flip Video CamerasTeachers have been flipping over the Flip video camera. I've had one for months and really enjoy it. What's so special about this camera? First, the camcorder stores video in its internal memory. That means there are no tapes to rewind, record over, or lose. Secondly, the camera couldn't be easier to use. It only has a few button because it only has a few features. In fact, the Flip video camera seems like a Fisher-Price product because it is so simple. Another awesome thing for classrooms is that the camera requires no cables or cords. You don't need to worry about a power adapter because it uses 2 AA batteries (I recommend getting 4 rechargeable AA batteries so that one pair can be in the camera and the other can be charging). No computer cable is needed because a USB plug is hidden on the side of the camera that flips out when you need it.

Because the video is stored in flash memory, there is no tape to rewind when importing into the computer. The Flip comes with software loaded on it to help you download the video from the camera. You need special software because the camera records in its own DivX MPEG-4 format. As a Mac user, I've installed the free Perian component for QuickTime. This allows my computer to play the movie file in QuickTime, iTunes, and other programs. I can use the video in iMovie HD, but the new iMovie 8 won't recognize the video format.

The Flip does not have a microphone jack. While its built-in mic is pretty good, users need to make sure that if they are capturing someone talking, that person needs to be very close to the camera. We've all seen many teacher and student-produced movies where you barely hear what is being said. To get around this, I would move the camera far back to get a silent establishing shot. Then I'd reposition the camera to get a tight shot so that the camera is close to the person while he or she speaks.

Zoo VideosI took my Flip camera to Omaha's Zoo. Here's a clip of fish in a massive aquarium. I zoom in at the end and you can see the image becomes blotchy when zoomed because it is a digital (not optical) zoom. The video is 640 x 480 pixels large. I converted the video format from the Flip's .avi format to an equivalent .mp4. Otherwise, those you without the Flip software or Perian wouldn't be able to see it. Here's the same video uploaded to YouTube. You'll notice the original is larger in size and higher quality than what YouTube displays. Just for fun, here's another video from the zoo's Desert Dome. And here's the YouTube version. Like most cameras, you'll notice that the Flip records much better in sunlight than in semi-darkness.

The Flip currently comes in three different models. The model that records up to 30 minutes of video is $130. $150 will get you a camera that records up to 60 minutes. For $30 more you can get a sleeker 60 minute model.

The Flip is not the only small, cheap, tapeless video camera around. There's the RCA Small Wonder, Creative Vado, and Kodak Zi6. These cameras are very similarly priced to the Flip and have similar features. All include only a 2x digital zoom.

Why have a handy, easy-to-use camera in the classroom? Besides making videos of educational skits, the Flip camera could be used to document field trips and science experiments. It could be used to record interviews and class discussions. The videos could be uploaded to sites like TeacherTube or as a video podcast. Here are a few TeacherTube videos about or made with a Flip video camera: Reflection on Flip Project, Instructions for Using Flip Video Cameras (Windows), and Chinese Greetings.

Video Podcasts Free Up Class Time

Woodland Park High School in Colorado is using video podcasts to remove lecture from class. Viewing podcasts made by teachers is given as homework so teachers and students can focus on hands-on activities and direct problem solving during class time. For students without Internet, they can copy episodes to a flash drive. Those without computers can take home DVDs to play on their televisions.


Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams are the chemistry teachers involved in the video podcasting. In an article in the Pike Peak Courier View, they note an advantage is that students can pause and rewind a lecture when they don't understand concepts. The teachers take turns making episodes, so the students have the benefit of having two instructors. The teachers recommend SnapKast (Windows) or ProfCast (Macintosh) for recording lectures with PowerPoint or Keynote slides.

Click to go to the Woodland Park podcasts. Additionally, Jonathan and Aaron have an excellent video where they talk about their vodcasting. As an aside, I try to avoid educational and technology jargon. I do not use the term vodcast as I prefer video podcast.

iPods Episode #12: Podcasting Booklet

Learning in Hand: iPodsLearning in Hand: iPods Episode #12: Podcasting Booklet is online and gives an overview of the free 34-page booklet I recently made available.

The PDF is titled Podcasting for Teachers & Students and in it, I focus on free and cross-platform software so that both Windows and Macintosh users feel included. First, learn what a podcast is and then learn to find, subscribe, and listen to them. You probably already know how to do that, so most of the booklet tells about creating a podcast using Audacity, Levelator, and iTunes. Also, three methods of posting the podcast online are included in Podcasting for Teachers & Students. I tried to make the directions clear and simple so teachers and students can focus on communicating their messages.

Listen to all 9 minutes of Episode #12 for an overview of Podcasting for Teachers & Students.

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Wesleyan Podcast

Wesleyan PodcastWesleyan Academy has posted the first two episodes of its podcast! The school is on the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. These first episodes were written and spoken by fourth graders. They share segments about several topics they have learned about this school year.

To prepare for their podcast, the students listened to various podcasts from elementary students. They even sent video feedback to some podcasters. I'd love for you or your students to listen and leave a comment on the podcast's blog--it would mean so much to these budding podcasters.

By the way, I used the free service to publish the Wesleyan Podcast. Blogger works in combination with to create a podcast feed that works really well in iTunes. Unfortunately, these services do not host the audio files themselves. For that, I used my regular web hosting service. Read more about how to Publish with Blogger and Feedburner.

Another item podcasters may be interested in is the Subscribe with iTunes link I placed on the page. I simply replaced the http at the beginning of the feed's address with itpc. When clicked, an itpc link automatically opens iTunes and subscribes to the podcast. Yup, just one click and iTunes starts downloading the latest episode and will download future episodes. The podcast doesn't even have to be submitted to the iTunes Store for this method to work. If a podcast has been submitted to the iTunes Store, you can link to its iTunes details page using these directions.

But, I don't want to stress the techie part of all of this. The important piece is that students knew they were producing something special when they started taking notes and writing scripts. The fourth graders weren't focused on the technology; they were concentrating on their audience and purpose. They made this podcast for other students, so if you get a chance, have a student you know listen and comment on the Wesleyan Podcast blog!

Student Recording with Tony Vincent