Can a Studio Make a Difference?

We’ve been talking about the importance of opportunity … in this case, we are interested in providing an opportunity for our group to easily create content in the form of podcasts. I am seeing how podcasting can be used to impact an organization in ways that just a few months ago hadn’t even crossed my mind. I have been listening to the Podcast Academy podcasts and although almost all of them focus on corporate podcasting, the series has shifted my perspective.

When the ETS Leadership team went off site last week we spent an hour discussing strategies for encouraging the use of podcasting within our organization. What we came up with were several things to do to make it all go:

  • Build a private space in the Penn State on iTunes U platform just for ETS staff so we can create an ETS listening booth filled with both internal and external content. We can use it as a digital professional development environment.
  • Get iPods into the hands of our staff … we have some extras and it might be important enough to make sure there are floaters available … walking across campus for a meeting? Pick up a preloaded iPod with ETS and external content on it and listen up.
  • Managers are being asked to create orientation podcasts that introduce their staff and their mission to new employees. How nice will it be for new (and old) staff to be able to hear about all the things going on in ETS in the voice of the managers? I think it is a more authentic way of introducing the big picture.
  • We have created an open podcasting studio to allow easy creation of content. This is an idea borrowed from the Online IST days — reduce as many barriers to participation as possible. By putting an always on space right in the middle of our offices, I hope to create an inviting environment that our staff will comfortable using. It even looks cool!
  • Connect our voices to our stories … we produce a monthly staff newsletter that goes to the 100 or so people in TLT, why not expose smaller versions of the stories externally using our own voices. Our communications team is building a demo of a new ETS Morning Story concept — short 3 to 5 minute interview-rich weekly podcast to share with the outside world. So far what I am hearing impresses me.

So there are a few ways we are working to make podcasting a part of not only our professional development plans, but also part of our organizational strategy. One thing that is exciting to see is that interest is up as is content production. Anyone else doing stuff like this to inform audiences in and outside of your organizations?

Podcast Studio
ETS Podcast Studio: Design by David Stong

A Little Teaching and Learning with Music

Last semester I had the pleasure of meeting Stephen Hopkins.  Dr. Hopkins is a faculty member here at PSU in the College of Arts and Architecture.  He is not only a masterful teacher, but also an amazing musician.  I was lucky enough on a rainy afternoon that one of my colleagues at ETS decided to introduce us … you see Steve had just composed and recorded a new CD that he was actually carrying around with him.  He stayed in my office for quite some talking and we listened to his music together — I was hooked.

Steve represents one of those unique faculty members who spends his time thinking about his students.  He thinks about teaching and learning and uses his talents as a musicuan to bring it all to life.  He has a passion for both the music and for teaching that can really get you excited.  He was gracious enough to share his CD with me and it has honestly become an evening soundtrack in our house.  You can actually go and get a copy of it if you are interested in checking out some wonderful piano composition.

Not too long ago he stopped in my office to talk about all the podcasting stuff we have been working on.  I set up the M-Audio rig and we sat down and did an “in the moment podcast” right in my office — the ETS Talk Podcast Studio.  We talked mostly about music and music theory, but also where the passion and inspiration for all of it comes from.  His easy going style is so clear in his music, but man it knocks you over when you sit with him and talk.  The podcast isn’t all that long, but I think it is worth a listen.  We mix in some tracks of his CD and just sort of talk through the whole creative approach to music and teaching thing.  If you have some time to spare, take a listen to the podcast  (iTunes U Link) and if you like the music give it a shot as well!

eLearning and the Real World

Is it just me or is the idea that the University of Phoenix Online buying the naming rights to the Arizona Cardinals’ Stadium seem almost unreal. It wasn’t too long ago that a well placed administrator told me that eLearning was dead … this seems to indicate a different opinion. It appears as though we should look at this as a sign that the masses are embracing this mode of study. I know I can appreciate at least a hybrid approach to the standard notion of teaching and learning.

Back in the day (you know, 1999) everyone was talking about the potential of online education as a major cash cow for well connected schools. I’m not sure anyone thought it would be “Universities” outside the mainstream making a real go of it. The last time I checked, it costs a ton of money to name a stadium at any level. All I am saying is that someone might be doing the eLearning thing really well — read that as making money. It makes me wonder when buildings on my campus will get a name from a competitor who happens to have big pockets? Jeez … how will it sound if a building here is named the “University of Texas Information Sciences and Technology Building?” Strange days indeed …