A few thoughts about the third iteration of Anchor.
I am a pretty regular podcast listener, mostly while commuting. Recently though I’ve been listing to iPlayer radio on the drive home. I listen to today on the way in. This week I’ve restarted the podcast habit.
I’ve listened to one old friend and a couple of new ones. The old friend is
Today In Digital Education
A regular podcast from Dai Barnes and Doug Belshaw about education, technology, and everything in between.
I always enjoy this podcast as it roams education and tech. This weeks episode was particularly interesting as Dai & Doug were talking about Facebook and in particular the recent posts from Mike Caulfield which I’ve been following1
The ED Files The truth is out there?
A fortnightly podcast about UK education for and about teachers, teaching, government policy and other things…
By Alex Weatherall and Leon Cych
I listened to episode 1 which was mainly about the Michaela school. This seems to have generated a lot of tweets south of the border and it was good to hear some details. I’ll be adding The ED Files to regular listening.
The final podcast I listened to was CPDin140 – Kevin Hodgson. This is the first of a series of podcasts by Ian Fields. The episodes are interviews in Ian’s PhD research on Twitter for professional development. Kevin’s, who I’ve bumped into online was a great first guest. Again I’ll be listening regularly.
I am particularly delighted that Ian is posting these interviews on Edutalk starting a new ‘channel’ CPDin140 | EDUtalk. I’ve always imagined edutalk growing to include a range of show. Ian, of course, has contributed a lot of podcasts to edutalk via audioboom over the last few years.
I’ve not done as much broadcasting/podcasting on Radio Edutalk as I usually do. I am struggling to find time to organise my self and contact posssible guests. I have thoroughly enjoyed the ones I have done, if you have something to say about education and are free of an evening on A Wednesday at 8 please get in touch.
*featured image 1959 6-Tube Pushbutton AM Radio | Happy #ThrowbackThursday 1… | Flickr by Michel Curi | Flickr CC-BY. With a wee edit. *
- the post Banning Ads Is Nice, but the Problem Is Facebook’s Underlying Model | Hapgood is especially great, I am fascinated by the affects and affordances of interface. Facebook are master1959 6-Tube Pushbutton AM Radio | Happy #ThrowbackThursday 1… | Flickr of proving a UI that gets uses to do what FB want them to. ↩
So microcast 2 comes hot on the heels of number one. A few interesting things came out of the first one. Most excitingly I got a webmention from Henrik Carlsson’s Blog. He had produced a microcast in response to mine.
This is the indieweb equivalent of a reply on Anchor held together by webmentions. My microcast sent a webmention to Henrik’s post, his ‘reply’ sends a webmention to my post and this post will send one back. This is really sweet. It parallels the anchor experience, be we own our own spaces and data.
I wonder if webmentions could be extended to include links to enclosures, that could gather the audio players together on all the sites involved in the one place.
The next nice thing was that Henrik mentioned he has an opml file of microcasts. I had a look at my RSS reader, Inoreader, and saw it suports OPML subscriptions. That means I subscribe to the OPML feed which subscribes me to the different RSS feeds that make up the file. When Henrik adds a feed to his OPML feed, that feed gets added to my feeds in inoreader. This now becomes the equivalent of a mini Anchor.
All this cheers me up considerably especially as I’ve read a few posts recently about the move to podcasting getting more locked down and controlled.
This is a microcast, it is microcast number 1 here.
There is a few thinks rattling around my head that I think link up.
They were prompted bya tweet from Joe Dale this morning. I was eating breakfast when Joe tweeted that anchor, the podcasting app had some new features. One was particularly cool. Anchor allows you to reply to an audio wave with one of your own. The latest version of the app allows you to export a conversation as an audio file. This lends itself to asynchronous podcast creation.
I listened and responded to Joe’s anchor musing on the workflow he had described and about anchor from a sort of, fairly ignorant, indieweb perspective.
We waved back and forth a bit and Joe asked for more thoughts on indieweb. This is it.
The link to the idea of workflow comes from a post I made here about how to post audio to WordPress using the iOS app using Workflow. That post got a webmention from Henrik Carlsson’s blog. That is were I first heard the word microcast. He has an indieweb blog and webmentions are sort of indieweb trackbacks/ping back.
There are some basic indieweb ideas:
- Your content is yours When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation. Too many companies have gone out of business and lost all of their users’ data. By joining the IndieWeb, your content stays yours and in your control.
- You are better connected Your articles and status messages can go to all services, not just one, allowing you to engage with everyone. Even replies and likes on other services can come back to your site so they’re all in one place.
- You are in control You can post anything you want, in any format you want, with no one monitoring you. In addition, you share simple readable links such as example.com/ideas. These links are permanent and will always work.
I guess the indieweb idea is the opposite, in some ways, of posting to a silo like Facebook or Anchor. These silos have their own affordances. They are easy to set up, often free and make things like having a conversation easy. To reply to Joe this morning all I had to do was click the reply button in the anchor app and talk. For Joe to reply to this he would have to post audio on a service that could send a trackback or webmention to this post. Listeners would have to follow links to hear the conversation.
On the other hand Anchor has a degree of lock-in. There is currently no RSS Feed for my waves. I can export them which is great but I can’t grab, as far as I know, all my content. I have to rely ontThe service staying around.
With this microcast I own the data, it is hosted at my own expense in my own space. It can be possed out. POSSE is an abbreviation for Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere, is an indieweb principal.
A lot of the indieweb stuff is a little to technical for me but I think it is pointing to something important. Even if we use services like Facebook and anchor we should know what we are doing, what we gain and what we give up. A great post around the same space which is a lot easier to digest that the indiewebcamp is Doug Belshaw’s Working openly on the web: a manifesto.
Yesterday’s post was just about using workflow.app to post to a blog in a way that other tools can do. The method might suit some people’s needs better than using the WordPress app or the browser. It could be altered and improved too. But essentially it is just another way of doing something. I think this next step is a much bigger deal.
Workflow has actions that allow you to record audio or take video. It also has an encode media action.
This looked promising. I have now got a workflow that will record audio, encode to MP3 and upload to my blog.
I will end up with the link to the MP3 on the clipboard ready to paste into a post.
Getting the url to the MP3 took me a while to figure out. The action returns the url to the attachment page. I had to uses a few more actions to get the content of that page and then get the url to the MP3 with a regular expression. I don’t know much about regEx and less about the flavour used by Worpflow.app. I got there in the end.
A couple of OSs ago this seemed impossible on iOS. Now you can save an MP3 created with one of the myriad of audio apps to Dropbox, iCloud, one drive ect and upload through mobile safari.
I like to think this is a bit better. It is certainly a wee bit quicker if you do not need to edit the audio.
There were always apps that would record and publish audio to the Internet. What I like about this method is it goes along with the idea of owning your own data, posting to your own domain and having a little more control.
I am now wondering if it would be worthwhile seeing if you can trigger workflows from a draft.app custom script. This post on the drafts blog: Drafts 4.1.2 – Workflow Integration | Agile Tortoise makes it look as if that would be possible. This would turn the drafts app into a WordPress editor. One could upload images and audio directly from drafts, perhaps inserting the image or audio code at the insertion point.
A while back I bookmarked How to Revive The Levelator in El Capitan on TidBITS and followed the instructions to get this essential piece of podcasting software to work again after updating my mac to El Capitan.
This week TidBITS had the news: The Levelator 2.1.2 Works in El Capitan announcing a new version.
The Levelator is
a free app that ensures audio files use a consistent loudness, something that’s often hard to achieve with group podcasts and between episodes.
I find it very useful for Radio Edutalk episodes where we record over Skype.
Finally ios allows upload of files from more than the photo library. This is just the first mp3 I found in my Dropbox. It is a recording n Buchanian st. In Glasgow.
The more includes OneDrive for glow folk.
This opens up lost of possibilities for blogging and podcasting on the move.
It's ten years today since I wrote my first blog post for me, and I wish we could have today's thinking with the space and time of a decade ago.
I've blogged since around November 1999, one of the first users of a new, shaky service... Blogger. My first one was, as a student teacher, some kind of "making sense of Scottish education" affair. It was short-lived, audience-free, and felt presumptuous in the extreme. As a French and German teacher, I used the more stable Typepad service to run blogs with students on all sorts of field trips and school partnerships.
There were various Paris-Normandy trips, the highlight of my teaching year, where we live-blogged from a Nokia 6230i with a 1.3megapixel inbuilt camera and extortionately expensive and unreliable 2G connection, while munching on smelly cheese and exploring the history of Omaha beach and surrounds. In the early years, mums and dads were sceptical of what it was for and why - most posts would garner barely 30 comments. Just one year on, though, the utility of the blog was clear to all: no more nervous phone calls to the school asking how we Johnny was doing, and literally hundreds of comments per blog. In fact, I've just spent the weekend at a wedding where I met many of the students from the 2005 blog for the first time since then.
Carol Fuller, a US teacher from South Cobb, near Atlanta, who I have never met, but to whom my primary school colleague John Johnston paid a visit over a decade ago, is still an online friend today. She got her students helping in a couple of projects where a US perspective on the world was essential to gain empathy beyond the pages of the textbook. The most popular post in one collaboration on politics was by far around banning guns. Plus ça change...
Her students took the often traumatic and insightful writing of our senior students' field trip blog to Auschwitz and wrote their own play on the back of it. It was pre-YouTube, so VHS cassettes flew across the Atlantic. Having the powerful writing of students still online, still being downloaded, feels important today as our world continues to struggle with terrible things happening in the world, viewed only through a screen. Laura Womersley's Confession is still one of the best pieces of writing I think I've ever read from a student, rendered more poignant than ever today knowing that just a few months later she died, suddenly, from an unexpected illness. Her words live on.
We used our blogs to publish the first high school podcast in Europe, maybe in the world. The wee lad who edited everything is now an accident and emergency doctor, and through micro-blogging - Twitter - is newly in touch with me this past year. He's no long a wee lad, either - six foot tall, and seeking his next challenges in life.
2005: the start of edu.blogs.com
It was only when I left my classroom to start a secondment with the Government, in the summer of 2005, that I knew I would miss sharing with other people. Until that point, it had always been through the conduit of my students' work. Now, I wanted to share whatever I might with a newly emergent group of educators, educators who wanted to share beyond their four walls. The first post was awkward (and indeed called "That awkward first post"). The early posts are bum-clenchingly naïve. But it was also the place that some small things were kicked off, and became big things. A few weeks after the first ScotEduBlogsMeetup, TeachMeet was born in a post in 2006.
Early on, Loïc Lemeur, the founder of the blog platform I had been using for so long, invited me to speak at his emergent Les Blogs conference in Paris (now Europe's must-go-to tech conference, LeWeb). It's his birthday today, the day that I started my own blog - serendipity perhaps?
What followed my intervention there was the first sign that people might actually be reading and listening to what I was saying. James Farmer got stuck in, annoyed, I think, that a young buck was on the stage talking about classroom blogging (and he wasn't ;-). He was actually complaining about what everyone else on the panel had said, not what I contributed, which were just stories (much the same I what I try to contribute today). We didn't speak much after that, in spite of promises of beer in Brissie.
I was fed up at how few teachers were sharing long-form thoughts and reflections on teaching, through blogs, and how a self-nominated cabal hectored those of us joining the fray "for not doing it right". Today, I feel that about the self-nominated if-Hattie-didn't-say-it-it-didn't-happen brigade. Back then my chief supporter in the collision with James Farmer and, later, Stephen Downes, was one Peter Ford - still one of my best buddies today, and working partner of the last three years. Collisions, I learned early on, are how we challenge ourselves to learn better. Heck, even Stephen came around to like something I did once... one of the best presentations he's ever heard. The content of it, too, came from collisions on this here blog.
I also had collisions through the blog with people who did not blog, namely my employers at the Scottish Government. I spent a few blog posts correcting newspaper stories in which I was misquoted, and many more writing my own thoughts on why the creation of a national schools intranet, a social network no-one outside schools could see, was doomed to fail. It did. Two years after leaving the education department, I was invited back by a new Education Minister to his expert committee that has overhauled the whole, expensive, useless venture.
So, collisions on the blog were vital to my job, when I had one, and for the creation of NoTosh, my company. For ten years of professional collisions, thank you. I really wish there were more of them in long form.
TLDR has become the norm as educational discourse takes place in machine gun ratatats-à-Twitter. Where once we had comment feeds, dripping ideas, thoughts and disagreement with our ideas each day, we now have a tsunami of detritus in which we must seek out the comments of yore, never connected directly to the original thought that sparked them. Ten years ago, the half-life of an idea, of a discourse, could be as long as a month. Today, one is lucky if a thought lasts twenty seconds before it falls off the fold of the electronic page.
In the past decade, though, something better has come along, I think. More educators are writing books than ever before. More than most genres, there are plenty destined to become pulp, but there are so many more than a decade ago that offer genuine insight, great ideas, years of learning to the reader for no more than thirty bucks. They even come to your screen in a flash, if you want them to. I wonder, sometimes, if teachers writing books is not the long-form blog post in a different guise.
To that end, I've wondered about going back over ten years of blog posts, ignoring the truly embarrassing ones and unpicking the contentious ones with a more mature head on my shoulders. I'd love to write a book that takes ideas that mattered 10 years ago to me, and see whether they might matter more to people today. I have no idea whether this would work, whether it would even be of interest to people - the same questions I asked in my parents' dining room as I set about kicking off this electronic version of the book draft.
Thanks to those of you who have read my stuff, especially the longest posts like this one. Thanks, too, to those with whom I have collided over the last ten years. And to those who don't read my blog any more, who have unsubscribed because you feel it is "no longer relevant" (that's the most common reason for an unsubscribe), peace be with you. You have no idea of the fun you've missed out on ;-)
Glow Cast is a new podcast. Just one episode so far.
As you would imagine it is a podcast about Glow. The idea is to keep the episodes short and fairly casual. The more important function is to demonstrate how easy it s to podcast and provide some resources for would be podcasters.
Glow Blogs now provide a very good podcasting platform. The increase upload file size will ensure that reasonable length podcasts can be published with ease.
I’ve long believed that podcasting is a very underused technology in the classroom. It can be a very motivating tool that can touch on any area of the curriculum as well as hitting multiple literacy experiences. Podcasting can provide great opportunities for projects and collaborative learning. In the past it was quite difficult technically but now it is very simple indeed.
**If you are thinking of dipping your toes into podcasting but are unsure of the first steps check out Glow Cast the resources are only beginning to to build.
Imagine designing a school where the bell never rings, the day never ends, that keeps students in for as long as possible, in the same way as Google has designed its campuses to keep employees happy, but working.
That's what we explored during a fun field trip visit this week to Singapore Management University's SMU-X with the Facilities team and some great educators from Singapore American School (above), as they consider how they might create a more agile process for teachers to propose learning space innovations.
The space's project manager and initiator is Gan Hup Tan, Associate Director of Strategic Planning at the University, below. He's used design thinking principles to attempt the creation of a 'sticky space', where students choose to spend their time. But also visible were a large number of different type of space, and their type dictated, without signage, how it might be used. They fell fairly close to what I've come to call the seven spaces of learning.
In a fascinating visit we witnessed that very concept, with many students even opting for a quick nap in the "Quiet Room", on inflatable mattresses and soft furnishings, so that they could rejoin their learning, with peers, in one of the many collaborative spaces nearby:
Ownership of the space is a challenge: it is open 24/7 with very much 'background' security staff, and no librarians or permanent 'assistors' on hand. And yet the only room with instructions on its use is the White Room, head-to-toe-to-floor idea-painted, with glass walls and door, so that students can map out big ideas:
Interestingly, both here and on smaller whiteboards along the lines of workstations, there was plenty evidence that students claimed these spaces for personal expression, personal ownership. Cartoons, sketches and fun 'tags' felt like their principal purpose was to make students feel more at home, give more of a sense of belonging in an otherwise transient space.
While most space was purposefully ambiguous in purpose, there was the one-button recording studio:
Students insert their USB memory stick to start the system. Television lights switch on and the system is instantly ready to record, as soon as the big silver button is pressed:
As soon as the recording is complete, press the button again, and the whole movie is saved, instantly, to your USB. Remove the USB, the lights go out automatically, and you can leave with your movie ready to upload. It's a lovely example of technology reducing the barrier to achieving a prototype of thinking, good enough to get feedback if not quite Hollywood in terms of editing.
Does it work? Well, as I headed back to my hotel after dinner, a paused by the building. At the junction were six student-looking youth, takeaway food in their hands, heading towards the door. One swipe of their cards and they were in. 11pm learning - it’s certainly when many of us did our best work back in the day, no?