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March 20, 2005

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A First? Podcasting in an ePortfolio System

I just noted that podcasts are screaming up the meme charts, and a day later some exciting news.

Audree, who programs our eportfolio system available at Maricopa and her Chandler-Gilbert Community College has announced the upcoming availability of streaming media being built into the system (see latest ePortfolio enhancements, nicely published in an eport):

The (opensource) Darwin Streaming Server will be installed on all machines along with a set of opensource utilities called mpeg4ip.

The Quicktime client will be used exclusively (unfortunately, proprietary features preclude interoperability between streaming media servers and clients at this time). Quicktime is a standard player which is very easy to install.

When an ePortfolio user adds a Collection item or Document with an extension of mov,mp3,aac,mp4v,mp4,avi,mpg,mpeg, they will immediately be taken to a "Streaming ePort Page". This is similar to what happens when ePort users upload .html files  - they are immediately taken to an 'Upload Image/Reference' eport page.

(Actually Darwin is not even needed on our box since it is an Apple XServe ;-)

But there is more. Chandler-Gilbert Physics faculty David Weaver has been bitten by the podcast bug, and started asking for support for it within the eportfolio tool (more on this later, but David is using an eportfolio in lieu of a course management system!). It took Audree less than 24 hours to add the necessary RSS enclosures to the feeds produced by the eportfolio tool.

So for example, David has built a podcast collection in his eportfolio and the RSS feed has the needed tags to make it work as a podcast:

I think David was one of the first (and always one of my favorite) faculty I met on the job here at a 1992 Ocotillo Retreat at Mormon Lake, AZ, He has always been someone to (thoughtfully, but quickly) jump into new technologies-- in 1994 after turning him onto HTML and Mosaic, it was just a matter of weeks before he was creating web pages for his students and having his students create their own web pages. But he's not just an eager techie, he is first and foremost a talented and engaging teacher. I always enjoyed hearing from him after his yearly Physics conferences where he learned of a new approach and almost on schedule he would be re-inventing his teaching strategies. Its almost like his teaching is a continued experiment in better ways to help students learn Physics- check out his eport for some of the innovative projects and approaches he has used over the years. And he in turn is helping as as co-chair of the Ocotillo ePortfolio Action Group.

I have not exhaustively researched this, but I have not heard of any eportfolio tool out there that has podcasting support built into it. This is in addition to unique tools Audree has in place, including RSS Feeds for all ePorts and the entire eport server, optional email notiifcation of any eport updates, weblog tools built into an eportfolio, a quiz/survey tool, spell checking built into every entry form, and as noted above- streaming media support. The she has built this apparently is modular enough to add new features as needed/requested.

But let's get back to podcasting in an eportfolio-- where might this lead? Why not have students post audio recorded reflections? Wouldn't this be more impactful than what one can write in words? Audio blogging? How about audio feedback from an instructor or other students to a student's portfolio items? There could be new items students can add such as examples of their work for speech, communication, foreign language courses.

Podcastin' eports! Woooooooooooooooo the the technology ride just keeps accelerating! Keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times.

blogged March 20, 2005 08:04 AM :: category [ audiocasts , eportfolios ]
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