Mark's presentation on creating educational podcasts

I’ve just finished watching a video presentation by Mark Pentleton of Coffee Break French and Radiolingua fame (see my prior post on Online French Language Resources), describing how he creates enhanced audio podcasts for language learning. This is an excellent roadmap for all kinds of educational podcasts (with a Mac), such as the Mechanics Minilessons I’m trying (slowly) to produce for my Physics 1A class.

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Mechanics Minilesson #1!

I’m trying a (yet another) new thing for teaching, putting together “minilessons” for my Physics 1a class at UCSD covering specific topics that I don’t get to in lecture, or are worth a little focused attention.  This was a somewhat intensive project as time is short (the quarter has already started!) and I’ve never made a “video enhanced podcast” before, but I think I’ve got must of the bugs worked out.  You’ll nevertheless clearly notice some audio edits.

The audio was recorded on my laptop (built-in mic) into Garage Band; the slides were made in Powerpoint and saved off as individual images, and then individually dragged into the podcast track in Garage Band.  The whole thing was saved off as a AAC encoded .m4a file that Youtube seems to be able to handle.

Have a look, let me know what you think and if you learned anything!  The lectures themselves are also being audio and video podcast from UCSD.

Boy or Girl...or both?

I’m currently reading “The Polynesian Family System in Ka’u, Hawai’i” by ES Craighill Handy and Mary Kawena Pukui.  Kawena (her full name is Mary Abigail Kawenaʻulaokalaniahiʻiakaikapoliopelekawahineʻaihonua Wiggin Pukui) was a very notable and respected author on Hawaiian culture, having written over 50 scholarly works including “the” Hawaiian-English dictionary and “‘Olelo No’eau“, a collection of 3000 Hawaiian proverbs.  If you have any interest in Hawaiian culture or history, pick up anything and everything written by Kawena.

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Nature laid a huge Christmas present under Maui’s collective trees on December 25th: a 23-foot NW swell that was just big enough to power the local break Pe’ahi, commonly known as Jaws.  While “small” compared to the up to 70-foot waves Pe’ahi is famous for, the swell was still big enough to tap the deep reef offshore and produce some massive, fast-moving breakers, and the off-shore/cross-shore winds stood the waves up just a bit more and provided a nice rainbow breeze. Because of the speed of the wave (up to 30 mph), generally only tow-in surfers tackle Pe’ahi (see why on this video).

Thanks to an off-roading lift from our friends Carl and Ivy, we got down to the lookout above Pe’ahi and took some video footage that you can see in the YouTube clip below.  I strongly recommend watching this while looping “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)” by the Ramones.

BTW, this is the second time Pe’ahi has broken this month, the last being December 7-8.

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and I need to put my Nigerian fortune in your bank account

My blog has (barely) garnered enough hits to get seriously targeted by comment-spam; comments that almost sound like someone is interested but clearly is meant to sell something.  While WordPress is very good about catching these spams, and I generally ditch them without a thought, the most recent one caught my eye as it seemed to provide just about every possible permutation of comment-spam I’ve ever seen.  Reading through them, I realized that while they are hideously repetitive, abysmal in their spelling and grammatical structure, and offensive in their obvious lack of context, they are nevertheless subtly appealing in their effusive compliments and positive reinforcement.  Indeed, I would love if one of my blogs forced someone “to try and do therefore” (whatever that means), and only spam would thank me not once, but three times in a single comment.   If we were to shed the buy-me links, are we left with context-free ramblings or psychologically therapeutic mantras ala Stuart Smalley?  Is this mechanized gibberish or literary art for the 21st century?

I’ve trimmed the massive spam to the 10 “themes” that seem to repeat themselves.  Read for yourself and decide if Deepak Chopra should be worried for his career.

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