Internet Lectures Research:
Broadening the Audience for Live Slide Show Presentations
Inexpensive, yet effective, computer software is available to help non-technical people convert narrated slide shows into Web lectures. More sophisticated productions may be made with software requiring programming skills. A .jpg image file of each slide can be accompanied with an accompanying voice segment. Unlike "in person" slide shows, a Web show can be stopped and started at any image. Any segment can be replayed, or the whole show replayed. For a tutorial -- in the form of a narrated slide show -- on how to create a Web lecture see a QuickTime streaming show created by Dave Schubert at daveschubert.com. Mr. Schubert demonstrates the development of the show using LiveSlideShow. [accessed 10/29/04] ListenUSA created a demonstration QuickTime narrated slide show using LiveSlideShow software. [accessed 10/29/04] For more information on LiveSlideShow see items 1 and 7 in Responses to inquiries.
Audio recording can be readily be done on a digital recorder or directly into a PC or Mac with an external microphone and audio capture software. If a camcorder's digital audio track from the live lecture is of sufficient quality it can be downloaded to a computer after the live lecture, saving the step of separately recording the audio portion of the Web lecture. There are several sources of voice recording software. Express Dictate from NCH Swift Sound allows dictation to be recorded and then transmitted over the Web or by email. NCH's RecordPad Sound Recorder and WavePad Sound Editor are audio recording and editing programs for Windows. QuickVoice from nFinity Inc. gives Macintosh computers voice recording capabilities including a digital voice recorder. For more information on audio see items 4 and 5 in Responses to inquiries.
Image and audio file size
A hypothetical one hour slide show of 60 "slide" images stored in highly compressed .jpg format may have a .jpg file size of 10 to 25kb per image. Larger file sizes provide larger images. TFAO's experience with its Resource Library publication indicates that .jpg file sizes less than 25kb produce an adequate size on a viewer's monitor screen. Resource Library's Content Presentation Guidelines page says that
If each image in a show with 60 image is 25kb, there will be 1.5MB used for the entire slide show.
A typical audio file of MP3 high quality sound, uses1MB per stereo minute, according to Matt Ottewill of planetoftunes.com. Other sources indicate use about 1MB to 1.5MB of disc space for each minute of sound. If a Web lecture hypothetically has one minute of sound for each image, 60 minutes of sound will have a 60MB to 90MB file size. The combined audio/visual file size for the show in this example is 61.5MB to 91.5MB.
Museums may decide to add movie clips to their narrated slide shows. QuickTime 5.0 software provides a popular way of adding movie clips to online presentations. A movie clip of a lecturer being introduced to a live audience at the "in person" lecture adds an additional dimension to a Web presentation. It personalizes the lecturer and provides a preface to the Web lecture. Movie clips have much larger file sizes than a series of still images. Because of the larger file sizes, they lend themselves to viewing via broadband connections. Television is broadcast at 30 frames per second and motion pictures at 24 frames per second. CDs also replay movies at the same frame rate. Online movie clips are played usually at a rate of 10 to 15 separate images per second. Movie quality is therefore markedly degraded with online viewing.
Streaming vs. download.
A Web lecture can be seen on a viewer's computer monitor either by means of streaming or by a download.
With streaming media a Web lecture can start playing almost instantly on a viewer's computer as the slide show is being downloaded -- instead of waiting for the show to be completely downloaded onto the hard drive of the viewer's computer before playback starts. Many individuals can even see the streaming show at the same time. Once a streaming show has ended there is no file remaining on the viewer's computer. The show can be replayed, but it cannot be copied.
An alternate to streaming is for a show to be downloaded on a person's computer. With a download, the show is started after the download is complete, or partially complete.
Web lectures can be many minutes long and have large file sizes. The larger the file size, the longer it takes for a show to be downloaded on a person's computer. A viewer without a broadband connection may not have the patience to wait for a long download to be completed before starting a show.
As an alternate to a hard drive download or streaming media, a viewer can view a narrated slide show via a CD or DVD disc. When using a CD or DVD disc it does not matter whether the viewer has a dial up or a broadband connection -- or any connection -- to the Web. Discs can hold very large files and display them nearly instantly on a home computer. One disc has the capacity to hold several narrated slide shows. There is a trade-off between Web connection speeds and the clarity and size of images, which is not an issue with discs.
The Department of Academic Technology Solutions, Division of Information Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed a in-depth web site named "Streaming Media @ University of Wisconsin." UW created the site "...for faculty and educators interested in using web-based media in their teaching." The site provides helpful insights for Museums contemplating Web lectures, which UW calls "illustrated audio." There are eight sections in the web site.
A section titled Creation and Production has four parts.
A second section in the site is titled Showcase. Within this section there are six examples of slide shows.
A third section is tilted Understanding Streaming Media. Within this section there are nine tutorials introducing streaming technology.
Evelyn Beck, an instructor in the English Department of Piedmont Technical College wrote in a May/June 2002 article titled Streaming Audio Lectures "Most experts recommend that you limit each lecture to about 10 minutes, since on-line learning often happens in small chunks of time. That ability to stop and start, says Grover Furr, who teaches English at Montclair State University, in Upper Montclair, New Jersey, is a real appeal of the medium. Quoting an article he has written on the topic, Furr says, 'Students can pause, back up, and replay the lectures, or parts of them, as many times as they wish so that can make notes, answer the telephone, make a cup of coffee, and so on. With more time to assimilate the lecture material, they can also think more critically about it.'"
For further insight on narrated slide shows see examples from Boise State University.
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