Oct 05

New software called Levelator may solve the tricky fluctuating audio level issue many teachers with limited equipment face. It automatically adjusts the audio levels within a podcast to account for variations in level between speakers. Drag-and-drop any WAV or AIFF file onto The Leveler’s application window, and a few moments later you’ll find a new version which just sounds better. The application is available for Windows and OS X - it’s free (for non-commercial use). From the website:

Have you ever recorded an interview in which you and your guest ended up at different volumes? How about a panel discussion where some people were close to microphones and others were not? These are the problems the post-production engineers of Team ITC solve every day, and it used to sometimes take them hours of painstaking work with expensive and complex tools like SoundTrack Pro, Audacity, Sound Forge or Audition to solve them. Now it takes mere seconds. Seriously. The Levelator is unlike any other audio tool you’ve ever seen, heard or used. It’s magic. And it’s free.

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Sep 24

I find it amusing that some colleagues are loathe to call syndicated XML enclosed media files by the populist name ‘podcast’. Like ‘Polaroid’ for the noughties perhaps. Others claim that podcasts are just mp3 files. The association with Apple is a difficult pill to swallow for some PC only users. In fact podcasts are any media to which you can subscribe and read/watch/listen using a feed reader, and if you choose a portable player - of which over 70% just happen to be iPods. RSS is the the corner stone upon which web 2.0 delivery is based and is here to stay - just like ‘podcast’ I’m afraid. Ironically, it was the open-source community that developed the podcast code/RSS enclosures and coined the name.

And now to the reason I am making this post. I came across this handy piece of PC only freeware - MP3myMP3 Recorder. The blurb says:

MP3myMP3 RecorderRecord internet radio and save to mp3 or wav. Record streaming audio from the Internet, microphone, or any other source for that matter. MP3myMP3 Recorder works directly with your system sound card - if you can hear it, you can record it! Use the scan tool to list all mp3, wav, aif, swa, or sun au audio files on your computer - then play and record portions of any of these files.

Handy for recording mp3s for students or for them turning into podcasts. And back to the rant. Wikipedia tells it like it is. From Wikipedia’s definition:

“Neither podcasting nor listening to podcasts requires an iPod or other portable player, and no over-the-air broadcasting is required. The name association came about simply because Apple Computer’s iPod was the most marketed and the best-selling portable digital audio player when podcasting began, and was used by early practitioners. However, the use of the “pod” name in 2004 probably played a part in Apple’s development of podcasting products and services in 2005, further [cleverly] linking the device and the activity in the news media.”

I try to explain podcasting to students by saying, mp3 players are to audio and video files what a postbox is to a magazine subscription. Podcasts aren’t just audio files, they are ‘home’ delivered personal choices.

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Sep 05

Photo Story 3

Microsoft’s free Photo Story 3 is a useful tool for teachers and students alike purely based on it’s efficient use of resources in a quick and easy (enough) manner. Photo Story 3 allows you to create slideshows using your digital photos. With a single click, you can touch-up, crop, or rotate pictures. Some special effects, soundtracks, and your own voice narration to your photo stories. Then, personalize them with titles and captions.

I read an article today on the Times Educational Supplement blog regarding and these are some of the ways they suggest Photo Story 3 can be used in an educational setting:

-present new vocabulary using individual objects or by miming actions
-to practice dialogue work such as buying different items in a shop or asking for directions
-to give a description of your daily routine or local area for example
-to design a comic strip
-to make a record of a trip
-to put together a multimedia resource for your partner school
-to design a comic strip
-to make a record of a trip
-to put together a multimedia resource for your partner school

There is a well composed online tutorial including video clips and teacher notes on how to use Photo Story 3 for Windows at this website Assignment: Photo-movie.

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Sep 02

Funny how so many software companies are having freebie give-aways these days to get attention - but it is not often an expensive 3D world/object creation tool is released for free. Bryce 3D is available for free download until September 6. This will be of interest to high school teachers looking for a way to extend students who have a taste for 3D design through use of Gamemaker and their own gameplay. I suggest Bryce because it is the interface is relatively simple and intuitive when compared to other 3D programs like Lightwave and 3D Studio Max. A number of content packages that offer pre-built models of things like scenery and people are available, including a free starter set inBryce 3D interface conjunction with this offer.

Bryce works on both PC and Mac platforms. Getting free copies is relatively simple: download a copy from DAZ Production’s page. Then you will need to create an account or have students create them, then once you’re logged in, the registration link Bryce gives you will create your registration code.

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