Helping Kids Create Podcasts

This past Saturday I went to the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Greensboro, Central Unit. I spoke with several adult staff members and kids to shed some light on podcasting. We started off by talking about what they wanted to know and what their plans were. The Boys and Girls Club has a small computer lab with several PC laptops and a video projector. Some of the machines had the free open source software Audacity.

Then I played some examples of audio and video podcasts. I started with some podcasts made by adults. Then I played them some ‘casts made by kids. But what they all really wanted to do was record audio. So that’s what we did.

The laptops had built in mics. Audacity had already been configured by their computer support guy Aaron Thompson. He even had the lamelib mp3 encoder installed and recognized by Audacity. I did a short recording demonstration then the kids took over. I am constantly amazed at how proficient kids are with computers. They can MOVE around software fast!

First they recorded themselves saying their names. Then they decided to say their names, what school they went to, and what they wanted to be when the grew up. The first recordings were a bit distorted. This was mainly because the recording levels were a bit high and they were so close to the mic. Those built in computer mics are sensitive!

We adjusted the recording levels in Audactity and in the Windows sound control panel. I then explained that another way to control the levels of a recording is to change the distance of your mouth to the microphone. So we stepped back from the laptop a bit and recorded a few more examples. After that we reviewed how to save your project, how to export an mp3 from the audio you just recorded, and even what ID3 tags were.

That really was bunch for one day so we wrapped it up and eat some pizza. (It was snowing a bunch too) Next time we’ll discuss what to do with the audio in order to podcast it.

I had a great time and am excited about working with these kids again. It got me thinking about how there must be a lot more kids who would like making podcasts. Maybe I’ll work on a series of hands on podcasting workshops for kids. This might be a cool thing to do at PodcasterCon 2007.

Thanks to Ndesanjo Macha [for inviting me], Aaron Thompson, Ann Robinson, the kids, and everyone who attended. 😀

Props from the 5013c Cast

Over at 5013c Cast, Audio Activism was discussed and linked to during their February 20, 2006 show. Cool!

When I started Audio Activism I was in the AmeriCorp VISTA program. My mind was constantly on non-profit technology. I still think about it but don’t podcast or blog about it as much. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the people and missions of non-profits. They are the grassroots action making this world a better place. We should send all non-profits our love and respect. (maybe some money too) 🙂

Thanks for the kind words Corey!

Public (Not Private) Internet Access for Chapel Hill

I wrote a guest post on our local politics blog Orange Politics called Public (Not Private) Internet Access for Chapel Hill. Check out the discussion about it over on that thread. Here it is in it’s entirety.
Chapel Hill provides many public services to its citizens. Over the years we’ve recognized the importance for all people to have equal access to basic necessities like water, sewer, electricity, telephone, transportation, roads, sidewalks, parks, etc. (The ones the town doesn’t directly provide the state regulates.) As the town moves into the twenty-first century we find that other types of access are just as important, especially in the new global economies.

One of those new types of access is Internet access. (Wi-Fi is one way to access information on the Internet.) It is steady stream of information that allows people to do all kinds of valuable and important things. In only a few years we have seen this access move from a mere toy to an extremely valuable tool. Very soon Internet access will be more than a tool but a resource that we all can not live without.

In order to assure that public Internet access is consistently provided, maintained, upgraded, and use education is made available we need a long term solution provider. This Internet access provider must have the resources to continue services well into the future. This robustness requires the service provider to function through difficult and prosperous economic times. Because of technologies swift rate of change, profit can not be the primary goal if public Internet access is to be consistently provided.

For these reasons and many others we have a public non-profit entity called OWASA provide our water access. They have the support of the town and county governments and a mandate to continue providing equal access to water resources indefinitely. This type of organization is the best kind to provide public information access to the Citizens of Chapel Hill. Let’s all work together to facilitate the creation of a new non-profit organization to provide public Internet access for all citizens of Chapel Hill.

Google giving $265 Million for Charity and Social Causes

The New York Times is reporting that Google is donating a share of it’s public stock offering to charity and social causes.

“It said it had donated $90 million to a new charitable foundation it started and would give another $175 million to nonprofit groups and what it considers socially useful businesses over the next two to three years.” By SAUL HANSELL

This could be a REALLY big deal to a lot of non-profits, foundations, and other charities. If you write grants for a non-profit or you’re an Executive Director of one KEEP AN EYE ON GOOGLE.

[via: Jon Stahl’s Journal] NYT

Update: Google Starts Up Philanthropy Campaign | Washington Post

The Durham Literacy Center: a NonProfit that’s Blogging

Durham Literacy Center Website

Introducing the new Durham Literacy Center website. It’s based on CivicSpace/Drupal and it has several blogs. I installed and customized the site, developed staff training, and generally evangelized the project. Everyone has been so kind and involved. They’re excited about writting and telling the world what they do. I’m so proud of them and will continue to work on this way after my AmeriCorp service is done.

Blogging and Events
Right now the site has a blog for each staff member, a blog for each program, program pages, a contact form, an event calendar that is searchable, a RDF RSS feed for the blogs, etc. This solid foundation sets them up for some very powerful stuff. In the near future volunteers will be able to blog and comment too. This will speed and improve their communication with program directors.

When the DLC staff is ready they’ll be able to use the new CiviCRM module for CivicSpace. “CiviCRM stores information on the universe of people associated with a nonprofit organization and on their interactions (emails, donations, petitions, events, etc.).” This is an advanced Customer Relationship Management tool. Like many non-profits the DLC needs to track LOTS of people. Volunteers, students, donors, and everyone they serve.

Online Fundraising
One of the largest functionalities of this new website is on-line fundraising. In order to do this you need more than a paypal button. You need to be able to collect information about people who visit your site. You must have something for a visitor todo besides just find basic content. Activities and action items are key.

Also when the DLC has a big event coming up or wants the world to know what they are doing they can write their own story about it. In effect writting content for all media outlets to run with. All in all a VERY excited moment. I’ve been researching and reading about how dynamic websites like blogs can help non-profits. NOW here it is running and doing it’s thing!

Nonprofits and the Emerging Digital Tool Kit

Marnie Webb the Director of CompuMentor’s TechCommons put together a neat pdf handout about nonprofit tech. It’s for a panel she’s on tomorrow at Alliance for Community Media International Conference and Trade Show. It contains several links to stuff Ruby and I have written and a few posts here on AudioActivism. Too cool!