Today’s Guest Blogger is Keri Bjorklund, from Sheridan College. Keri is a friend from my grad school days, and freely admits she is NOT a math instructor. However, she did help me type an entire test bank once, and knows how to use MathType (hotkeys and all) so she may be a kindred math spirit anyways. Keri recently caught the blogging bug and has a blog for English Instructors and Literature Lovers called Ms. Professor B.

The Problem

This past semester I was given the task of teaching a poetry and drama class online. This seemed simple enough: have students post discussions following the reading and write a number of small essays analyzing the reading. There was one catch, however. The class was meant to fulfill a performing arts requirement for AFA degree seekers. How was this to be accomplished in an online class? This is especially difficult in a rural area where students do not always have access to the best Internet connection, computers, or computer skills. So, not only did I need to create a class that had never been taught online before, but I also had to develop a way that students could create a performance without requiring sophisticated and complicated technology. This is where comes in.

The Solution is a website in which users create an account and phone in “episodes.”

Users use a toll-free number from several global locations and simply punch in the channel number and the channel password over the telephone. There is also a conference call option in which members enter a channel and a meeting password. The site is free up to 30 minutes for conference calls and up to 200 MB for episodes. Audio files created over the phone are automatically saved to the Gabcast channel. There’s no need for the caller to enter save or any complicated code. It’s just like leaving a voicemail.

The episodes can be published to the web, incorporated into blogs, or remain unpublished. I asked students not to publish their recordings due to copyright laws; however, some students’ readings were posted because of the nature of the material. Viewers can listen to the episodes by visiting my channel.

Usage is simple. I created a class account, provided the password, and had students call in their readings. Students had the option of recording a drama scene or reciting a poem. I uploaded each episode into Blackboard so everyone could listen and critique each recording. It was a highly successful exercise and students had positive feedback about the activity.

Although this was used for an English course, this can be used for recording lectures, directions to assignments, or participating in conference calls. A variety of material already exists that could be accessed as supplemental material. In fact, entering “math” in the search box provided at least 9 pages of results. Certainly, there is a use for across disciplines.

Thanks Keri for your post! To find Maria in India, go here.

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