As I said several weeks ago, while at the MICCA conference in Baltimore, my iPod finally crashed. It was in its 4th year of pretty solid use, not only for listening to audio books and podcast (and a song here and there), but also for recording my Connect Learning podcast. I reformatted the iPod’s hard drive and restored the software, and it worked for a few more weeks, but then it crashed again and refused to take the restores. On my way out of town, on my way to Asheville last week, I dropped by the Raleigh Apple store and bought a new iPod (Video). Way Way cool. Almost entirely impractical for me because of my increasing farsightedness, but totally cool video. I am entirely impressed, and suspect that younger eyes are delighted.
But back to the podcasting, I have always tried to focus down on using information technologies for learning that are accessible for schools that are willing to invest just something into it, and consistently say in my presentations and workshop that you don’t have to go buy an iPod to record a podcast.
“I use an iPod because I already owned an iPod.”
“Just had to spend $30 for an iTalk to turn it into a recorder.”
They’re a little more expensive now, but what else is available?
So I went to the local Staples store and bought an Olympus digital voice recorder. Its a WS-100, $79 (usd). I’m still working my way through the buttons, but I tried it for the first time yesterday, when I visited a technology showcase in Durham, North Carolina, and found that the operation was pretty darn intuitive. The event was an excellent test of the audio quality because there was an enormous amount of background noise and confusion. But when I gave one of the files a listen last night, I was overwhelmingly impressed.
I especially like the built-in USB plug. You just plug the device directly into your computer, and it shows up as an external hard drive. Just audio drag the files off into your podcast directory, and get to work. One glitch is that the files are saved in WMA format, so you have to find a converter to change it to a wav or mp3. I used Switch, which worked very quickly and effectively. The files go from there directly into Audacity or GarageBand.
My only irritation is the weight. I’ve been accustomed to holding a very solid and substancial iPod when interviewing people. The Olympus is extremely light weight, and cheap felling, but again the quality of the recording surprised me — and at almost a quarter of the price.
Look for the next episode of Connect Learning.