Why you have wasted all that money you’ve spent on streaming lectures

OK, so you’ve got the best streaming lecture system up and running in the country: every theatre is equipped with simple recording devices, lecturers have easy access to handheld recorders to pop in their top pockets when they’re speaking, it all feeds into a beautiful seamless system that stores & streams an emails you the link which you can then insert, with ease, into your WebCT or Blackboard course.

And then slowly you start to realise that you’ve just wasted hundreds of thousands of $s, because:

-A lecture delivered to a theatre is utterly and totally different to the kind of thing you’d broadcast as just audio (if it’s any good it’ll be interactive & unbroadcastable!)

-It has become painfully obvious that even the most diligent of learners is not going to sit for 60 mins or more at his or her PC listening and focussing on what you produce

-The streaming server is great but the files are so large that it just doesn’t work for anyone without a huge pipe, what you really want is quick ‘n dirty .mp3s

And you come to understand that all you need to do is give each lecturer a decent mic to plug into their PC, pop a simple .mp3 recording device on their desktops (which they can use to edit if they like), ask them to record max 20-30 min talks on particular subjects and then get them to pop it in as an enclosure to the course blog (which is, of course, also framed in the WebCT or Blackboard course and on the open web so available for podcasts as required). That way you have:

-A recording made for straightforward audio and of far better quality than anything captured ‘in the wild’

-A recording that can be simply aggregated or downloaded to .mp3 players and hence actually listened to at some point!

-Damn small files

And it’s set you back a few thou for the mics and the .mp3 recorder (you could always use Audacity for free!) , a few weeks work for the course blogs, some ongoing on-call support (say 0.4 for 500 lecturers) for uploading / enclosures and a small consultants fee for me :D