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#49-ProfCast: Promising New Software Tool for Publishing Live PowerPoint Presentations

July 08, 2006

Overview

Publishing lectures, special events, or any kind of presentation on the web for later review is becoming increasingly popular, especially on college campuses. The process involved in doing this has become easier by using a software product called ProfCast. A recent upgrade of this product to Version 2.0 has added features to this inexpensive Macintosh application program that simplifies the process of recording events where PowerPoint and/or Keynote slides are used. Using ProfCast, a file of the presentation is created and then publishing on the web in the form of a podcast.

LTA Credits

Charles J. Ansorge
Professor, Department of Educational Psychology
College of Education and Human Sciences
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
cansorge@unl.edu

LTA Audience

This LTA is currently available for only the Macintosh operating system. However, the creator of the software is considering the possibility of making a version of the software available for Windows computers. Current price for the program is $35; it may be downloaded from the site appearing below.

http://www.profcast.com/

It is recommended that this application program be used in conjunction with PowerPoint 2004 and/or Keynote (versions 2 or 3) in order that there be a visual image appearing on the screen at the same time narration is provided.

It is further assumed that the user of this program will be using a computer that is connected to the internet and will have access to a web server where it is possible to store files that are created by ProfCast.

For viewing and listening to the completed podcast it is recommended that the latest version of iTunes (v. 7.0) be used. This free applications is available for installing on computes with either Macintosh and Windows operating systems.

LTA Outcome

After completing this LTA it is assumed readers should be able to do the following:

  1. Understand the features of ProfCast
  2. Launch the application program
  3. Record the presentation/event
  4. Publish the recording on the web
  5. View a podcast created for this LTA

How Much Time Will This Take?

ProfCast is an easy-to-use application that requires a minimal amount of time to learn. If a teacher is interested in making a classroom lecture or series of lectures available to students, access to a video projector connected to a computer is necessary so students will be able to view PowerPoint and/or Keynote slides to be used for the lecture. A ProfCast application program also needs to be installed on the classroom computer and a microphone should be available to record the presentation. This microphone may be connected directly to the computer or it is possible that a wireless microphone may be used with an amplifier connected to the computer.

After the room and equipment are suitably equipped the ProfCast application on the computer is launched. When the teacher is ready to begin class the “Record” button is clicked and the lecture begins. When the presentation or the class has concluded the teacher goes through a series of steps to prepare the presentation so it may be viewed by students on the internet or reviewed by others who may be interested. These steps involved in using ProfCast will be reviewed in the example that follows.

Basic Example-How to Create a Short Podcast

This example of how to create a short podcast will result in the creation of a file that will be available for review on the internet. A series of PowerPoint 2004 slides have been created which describe how ProfCast is to be used to create a podcast. The computer used to complete this example is one that is similar to those found in classrooms on college campuses. The headset microphone used was a low-price Telex H-841 model that was purchased several years ago for less than $30.

  1. Launch ProfCast on the computer to be used for recording the presentation. Either “drop” an icon for the PowerPoint or Keynote presentation into the box in the center of the window or go to the File Menu and Open a set of slides that will be used for the presentation.
    Lta49-1
  2. After checking the sound level to determine that the microphone is working correctly, the red button for “Start Recording” should be clicked. Proceed through the PowerPoint slides and/or the Keynote slides until the end of the presentation has been reached. The option of pausing and opening up more slides and continuing on with the presentation or stopping is available or the presentation may be ended. For this demonstration the choice will be to stop and then choose the “Publish” option. After making this choice a new screen appears where four publish options are available. See below. The choice for this example will be to create a podcast; clicking the “Podcast manager” is necessary to do this.
    Lta49-2
  3. The Podcast Manager permits the creation of a podcast series and also episodes for the series. Think of the podcast series as the title of a book and the episodes as chapters in the book. Chosen for the name of the series is “ProfCast.” The name chosen for this first episode will be “Demo.” The screen where information will be entered will appear as the one shown below.
    Lta49-4-1
  4. After selecting the name for the episode, the next action required is to upload two files to the server that will be used to store the information. The “Upload” button is found in the upper right portion of the screen. Before uploading, however, there is a need to set Preferences to enable the files to be directed to the correct location. One of the files to be uploaded to the server will be the RSS file and the other file will be the actual demonstration. Below is a view of the window that contains information to be completed. Information shown in this screen capture is for this example. It may be necessary to work with a system administrator of a server to make certain that all information is entered correctly so there will be no problems in uploading the files for later access.
    Lta49-6
  5. After making certain the preferences are correct for the server, the next action to take will be to “Upload” the files to the server. This is done from the Podcast manager. See the figure after step 3 above for the location of this button to send the files to the server. Note that there is another button located just to the left of “Upload.” This button may be used to open the Demo podcast in iTunes. It is likely that most individuals using this application will already have iTunes installed on their computer and this makes it easy to view the final product.
  6. There are several options available for sharing the Demo that was created. The best option and one that is more highly recommended to use when creating a series of episodes for a podcast involves having the prospective viewer enter the RSS link into a podcatcher like iTunes. A podcatcher is a computer program used to automatically download podcasts. It is a form of aggregator, and can also transfer received audio files to a portable media player such as an iPod. Nimiq, PodSpider, Odeo, Juice, and PodNova are just a few examples of podcatchers. Some are for use on a Macintosh computer, and some will only work with Windows. A few, like iTunes, may be used with either platform.The process of subscribing to a podcast series is easy to do. An explanation of this option assumes that iTunes (version 7.0 or higher) has been installed on the computer (Macintosh or Windows) that will be used to view the podcasts. After iTunes has been launched, one of the menu choices is Advanced. Selecting this menu will provide a view similar to that shown below:
    Lta49-7

    Clicking on Subscribe to Podcast… will reveal another screen where it is possible to insert the URL for the RSS feed that is created by ProfCast. The screen shot below shows how this window will appear.

    Lta49-8

    For purposes of this example, the following URL should be inserted if there is an interest in viewing the podcast.

    Feed://cehs.unl.edu/cansorge/test/ProfCast_20060914_115708-0500.rss

    After clicking the OK button iTunes will create a link in the Directory to make it possible to view the Podcast. Clicking on the link will produce a small preview in the lower-left corner of the screen. In the top left area can be found the control to start and stop the viewing of the podcast.

    Lta49-9

    The preview window appears as shown below.

    Lta49-10

    By simply clicking on the slide, a much larger and easier-to-view version is produced as shown below.

    Lta49-12

    One of the distinct advantages of subscribing to a podcast using a podcatcher like iTunes is that it is possible to set a preference for checking new episodes in the series automatically and then view at some later point.

  7. A second option for sharing the Demo that was created is to convert the podcast to a movie and then supply a URL for the site where individuals with an interest in viewing the podcast may access it. Using this second option is not something that the ProfCast software supports. Instead, there is a need to use QuickTime Pro (the paid version of this software) to convert the podcast to a movie for viewing. Instead of including specific instructions with this LTA, it is suggested to those interested in learning more about the procedure contact the author of this LTA. By clicking on the link for the URL found below it is possible to view the podcast. This is not a recommended way to share a podcast. It is included here to provide a simple way to view the example that was produced.http://cehs.unl.edu/cansorge/test/test.movThere are numerous ways that podcasting can be used in teaching. Viewing class lectures is just one example. Let your imagination wander and consider other possibilities. ProfCast is a very handy tool that makes the process of creating podcasts much simpler than was once the case.


     

Comments»

1. mitsnewo - March 8, 2010

ProfCast now available for Windows! http://www.profcast.com/windows/


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