Podcasting course

Last spring I set up the course MUS2006 Musikk og bevegelse (Music and Movement), an introductory course (in Norwegian) covering theory and methods for studying music-related movements. The course is running again this spring semester, and several people have asked if we could make available some recordings of the course. First I was a bit reluctant about having to spend more time on lecturing, since teaching already takes up quite a lot of my time. But then I thought it could be interesting to see how much time it would actually take to get this running, so I decided to look into how this could be done with as little effort as possible.

After testing a few solutions, I have found that ProfCast covers our needs well. It makes it very simple to load in a Keynote presentation, and record the audio along the way. The nice thing about ProfCast, at least as compared to some other solutions I have looked at, is that it doesn’t actually record any video during the presentation. It integrates nicely with Keynote, and only records audio and information about slide changes during the presentation. Then the actual podcast is assembled, including automatic exporting of the used slides, after the presentation has been recorded.

ProfCast supports exporting to iTunes U, but since UiO hasn’t set up an account for that yet, I found it easier to just export QuickTime movies that I integrate with the UiO web publishing platform. Here are the links:

I had only tested the solution quickly before the first lecture, so I was excited to see if it would actually work in a real-life situation. I am happy to say that it did! Except for having to remember to start the presentation from within ProfCast, we did the lecture as we would otherwise have done.

Besides having some meaningful content, I believe the most important aspect for making a podcast work is to get a clean sound recording. Listening to recordings done with the built-in microphone on a laptop is not pleasant, so I decided to use a wireless lavalier microphone connected to a small USB sound card. This was a simple setup, easy to carry, and made it possible to walk around during the lecture. The only problem with this approach was that questions from the students are barely audible. I could set up an extra microphone, but then I would probably also need a mixer to adjust the levels, and the setup wouldn’t be so easy to carry and set up anymore.

All in all the whole thing was much easier to set up and get going than I had expected. I will get back with updates about how it is going.

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Alexander Refsum Jensenius is a music researcher and research musician living in Oslo, Norway.