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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

TCC tuning in students tuning in to iPods

Illustration by Patrick Cusack/The Collegian
Illustration by Patrick Cusack/The Collegian

By André Green/managing editor

Illustration by Patrick Cusack/The Collegian
Illustration by Patrick Cusack/The Collegian

TCC is joining an elite fraternity of colleges and universities with its latest venture into the cutting-edge educational world of tomorrow.

Podcasting, a combination of iPod and broadcast, is an audio recording that can be played on either a computer or an MP3 player.

Through podcasting, colleges and universities can post online lectures, videos and facility information that is accessible by students and the public.

Universities across the country have used Apple’s new feature in the iTunes store, iTunes U, to post.

However, colleges, such as TCC must baby step into the program because of the volume of information and resources that must be provided on a regular basis, which could become a nightmare.

The main needed resource is manpower, Jim Robinson, computer application specialists at TCC, said.

“ We have to find faculty that are interested so we can keep the content fresh,” he said.

As a result, the district has charged a team with developing ways to make TCC’s podcasting dream a reality.

Formed in late spring, the TCC Podcast Team is made up of individuals with various backgrounds in media.

The team, chaired by Robinson, is charged with developing a training program for participating instructors and providing faculty demonstrations as a way to garner interest in the project.

Sue Sanders, South Campus director of media services and committee member, said that apart from recruiting instructors to participate in the program, finding out what students want is equally important.

Media assistant Mary Grant and a few student volunteers have produced podcasts on the FAFSA and registration that students may find helpful.

Other areas of development include student and business services, registration, HPE and financial aid, Sanders said.

Although the program has great potential for success, the biggest hindrance could be whether students know that the information is available or understand what podcasting is, Sanders said.

“ I have talked to several students, and they didn’t even know what podcasting was,” she said. “We want to get the word out to everyone, not just students, but the entire district.”

Maria Shelton, vice-chancellor of information and technology services and team advisor, said training the staff and faculty is another priority of the committee.

Everyone must show a sustained interest in the program and a devotion to training to get the project off the ground, Shelton said.

Sanders agreed.

“ It’s not hard to produce a mediocre podcast,” she said, “but it is hard to produce a good one.”

Shelton said another issue taken into consideration is self-confidence. Although most faculty would like to participate, many are reluctant to record because of their voices.

“ Most of the time, people don’t like the way they sound once they hear themselves,” she said.

Pam Benson, NE Campus assistant professor of English, has not had that issue.

As the only faculty member on the committee, she has produced nine podcasts, which she has recorded in lessons for her students.

She said the feedback has been positive for the semester, and she is already planning more for her spring classes.

“You can’t expect to keep someone’s interest with a long podcast,” she said. “I have none that are longer than 10 minutes, and the shortest one is 4.”

Several advantages are available for bringing podcasting to campus, Sanders said.

Once podcasting is available, the committee has discussed setting up iPod stations on each campus.

Campus personnel could then check them out to new and prospective students or community visitors so they could receive a “virtual tour guide” of the campus.

Students could walk the campus with an iPod. When they got to a building they wanted to know more about, they could hear audio and possibly see video of what classes are taught inside, Sanders said.

Students pursuing careers in radio or television broadcasting stand to gain by participating in the audio and video sessions, Shelton said.

“They could use this experience and apply it to any jobs or internships they might apply for,” she said. “It would help with resumes and portfolios.”

Eventually, TCC would like to add itself to the iTunes U Web site, but for now, the Podcast Team is concentrating on getting the projects running and garnering interest.

“We want to make podcast interesting so students not only learn, but they are also interested in what they listen to,” Sanders said.

Shelton said if enough content is available, she hopes TCC would join iTunes U by the start of the fall 2008 semester.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Sanders at 817-515-4573 or sue.sanders@tccd.edu.

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