Saturday, 30 January 2010

How I made a slidecast....with a twitter support team.

At the end of last year I took delivery of a Zoom Q3. It's a little video camera with exceptional audio.... stereo condenser microphones. In January I gave a lecture to second year students and decided to record the audio. I had the vague notion of sharing it somehow on Blackboard. I decided to have a go on Thursday night and tweeted the following:

Solutions suggested were

  • Camtasia .... either as powerpoint plug-in or by exporting ppt as images and importing to Camtasia
  • Slideshare
  • Garageband (for a Mac and with benefit of possibility of publishing as a podcast from @nlafferty)
I was working on a PC so ruled out garageband. I had downloaded a trial version of Camtasia and spent a while trying to figure out if I could manage it. It seems to be a great product and I should spend longer with it, but I couldn't see how I would be able to do this without very carefully changing slides in time to the recorded audio. It's worth noting that Powerpoint itself doesn't seem to have an option to add existing audio to a presentation.

So I started investigating Slideshare in greater detail. @jobadge had sent me a link to this slideshare presentation explaining the process. It suggested I download Audacity, so I did and 'crunch down' the file.I couldn't see what I was actually to use Audacity for as I already had an existing audio file, and I wasn't clear about how to do the crunch down. I got very confused at this stage. I was trying to figure out how to reduce file size, then looked at the Slideshare's own latest guidance and saw that they would host the mp3 and it didn't matter what size the file was. Yay! But how did I convert .wav to mp3. Cue lots more confusion on my part!

Several people suggested that this was possible in itunes. But could I get it to work? No! (here is a screentoaster documenting my frustration! And to follow-up. Yes, you can convert to mp3 in iTunes. I searched help this afternoon and found the solution. Here is a screenr explaining how.) Special thanks to @egrommet and @paul_cooney who suggested that Audacity and the (poorly named) LAME plug-in would word. It did! I had an mp3 file.

The actual process of linking the audio to presentation in Slideshare is joyously simple! I set Slideshare to divide my 50 minutes of audio equally between my 16 slides and then adjusted them to the correct points.

The quality of the audio is high, and students can fast forward to hear the points that I made in different sections of the lecture. I think that it sounds more dynamic than if I had just recorded it sitting at my desk. So I will do it again.

Working with a twitter support team is always fun. I got there in the end, even though it was well after mid-night and my patience had grown a little thin.

For all your help and encouragement, a very big thank you to @stujohnson, @cathellis, @nlafferty, @jobadge, @bonnycastle, @clairebrooks, @keithunderdown, @adapeck, @suzanakm, @birdiecanfly, @doc_rob, @inimitablyfree, @ohsuneuro, @paul_cooney, @thelongmile, @jobrodie, @caspararemi, @acmcdonaldgp, @welshitgirl, @sboneham , @mrgunn who are all part of my twitter support team!

So in summary:

  1. The zoom q3 records very good audio.
  2. Slideshare is  the easiest way to synch existing audio to a presentation.
  3. Slideshare needs an mp3 file. iTunes will do the conversion. 
  4. You can upload the mp3 directly to Slideshare. No need to host elsewhere.
  5. Synching is a doddle!

Oh.... and here is the screenr explaining how to convert to mps in itunes.


  1. Thanks for this example of how Twitter can be of use to educators, Anne_Marie. I am presenting to colleagues on Thursday at an institutional PD day - I'll be able to use this story as an illustration of what Twitter does. cheers Sarah

  2. Great use of crowdsourcing to get over technical niggles. You're right that LAME is not "lame". It's a historical recursive acronym, deriving as it does from LAME Ain't an MP3 Encoder. Except now it is, if you see what I mean.

  3. Great post Anne Marie! I agree with Sarah this is a great example of the benefits of Twitter and one to direct sceptics too.
    Did you embed your Slideshare presentation on Blackboard? Whenever I've tried to embed a Slideshare into Bb I just seem to get a blank box.

  4. Anne Marie,
    Sorry I was offline during this twitter group-consult.

    I have not tried the audio syching in Slideshare and will try it out. I have used PowerPoint Producer which is a free download from Microsoft which lets you synch our audio with your slides.

  5. Hi Neil,
    You definitely get added to the support team! So Powerpoint will do what Slideshare can. This is really great to know. Have you tried the beta 2007 version (I've just googled it)?

  6. Anne,

    I had a similar experience with creating my slideshare. I'm happy with how it turned out. Check out:


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