Several months ago I spent some time with ProfCast … really looking at it through the podium podcasting lenses of the current podcast project we have underway here at Penn State. I recently decided I was doing both the app and the project a disservice by not taking a closer look at the features. The first time around I was put off by the apps inability to easily edit the captured event. I was also a little frustrated by the preferences and publishing options … they seemed a little overwhelming for novice users. This time around I found something much different.
Last week I gave two talks at the Penn State Web 2006 Conference … one on podcasting (where I gave ProfCast some major thumbs up with the collected audience) and the other on Web 2.0 in the Higher Education Landscape. Prior to going live, I actually used ProfCast as a practice tool. It was so easy to use … I just dragged my Keynote file onto the ProfCast screen and everything happened from there. It was even smart enough to do a nifty little overlay (ala, growl notifications) when I stopped my presentation to ask if I was done, or if it should pause. Very cool and a very important capability. The enhanced podcasts it produced are first rate … slide transitions are managed well as I use lots of builds to illustrate processes in my talks. It was effortless.
I would have used ProfCast during the talks, but the rooms were big and I was getting feedback from wearing two mics. Too bad, but I will be using it to release a podcast soon … maybe even revisit the Podcasting talk to release on the Podcasts at Penn State site.
I am still a little put off by the publishing options … it is still a little much for faculty member to figure out in the 30 seconds they have to wrap up in a classroom and get out. Maybe a simple publishing mode that could be set by an administer that would publish to a default location (or set of locations like a default podcasting serivce, iTunes U, and locally)? I did like the edit in GarageBand feature — a good lecture during an hour class should only really have 30 minutes or so of podcastable material, the rest should be “dead air” as students engage in conversation or activity. Editing this out is critical. That is another killer feature … I wish it could be pushed to Audacity as well, but that is a format issue.
All in all, this is an application to keep a very close eye on as a classroom podcasting solution. I hate to say it, but if this were cross platform we’d probably be jumping all over it. Who knows, it may show up in our classrooms as part of a podcasting suite. To the makers of ProfCast, nice work! Talk to us and let us provide some feedback to make it the podcasting toolset. Has anyone else used ProfCast and have thoughts to share?