March 2006 Archives

Podcasting is here, now.

The podcasting system in Scott 135 is ready to use now. Anyone teaching in Scott 135 can schedule a podcast by filling out the form at The form schedules the recording and creates the podcast URL that the students will use to subscribe to the podcast.

Once scheduled, simply go to the classroom, turn on the microphone and press the touchscreen controls to start the recording (the actual recording happens remotely; the touchscreen controls merely prevent the audio signal from leaving the room, giving the instructor full control of what gets recorded).

Our web server will automatically save the mp3 audio file, tag it with the name of the course and lecturer, and send it out on the "RSS feed," all within a few seconds of the end of the lecture. Students merely paste the podcast URL into iTunes, and that software will automatically check for new recordings at regular intervals, automatically downloading new ones and transferring them to the students' iPods (if they have them). Students without iPods can listen to the recordings on their computers or other mp3 players. The podcast URL can also be pasted into the "news" tool in Sakai, and the audio recordings will show up automatically in the course web site.

You'll find more information on our podcasting page, plus information on how to join the discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of podcasting.

Free Books

Many people are already familiar with the Project Gutenberg <>. One of the oldest public sites on the web, the goal of Project Gutenberg has been to digitize public domain works and make them freely available. They currently have over 17,000 titles that can be downloaded free of charge. If you need students to read something published prior to 1923, there is a good chance that it is available for free from Project Gutenberg.

But the problem with Project Gutenberg has always been that the files are not convenient to use. That's where comes in. They have taken the Project Gutenberg titles and reformatted them in several ways - you simply choose the format that works for your Palm, PocketPC, iPod, or whatever device you use. is a free service.


We are preparing to announce a new tool that will enable faculty to "podcast" quickly and easily. It's not quite ready yet. We need a few more days for the finishing touches before we start a limited trial.

For those unfamiliar with the term, "podcasts" are simply audio recordings and as such they are nothing new. However they are distributed in a way that is automatic and effortless — so effortless that they have begun to revolutionize (yet again) the way we communicate. Several universities have begun to podcast courses, and Rutgers is headed in that direction (but that announcement is still a few days away).

While we are getting ready to make our announcement , please join a discussion on Sakai about the benefits and drawbacks of podcasting, issues around intellectual property rights, digital distribution of audio files, digital rights management, and anything else that comes up.

To join the discussion, sign up for the "Podcasting at Rutgers" site. From then on you can go directly to, log in, and click the “Podcasting at Rutgers” link in Sakai to participate.

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