LibriVox: Free Audiobooks

Are you familiar with LibriVox? This is a website with public domain audiobooks available for downloading. For free. Can’t beat that!

LibriVox represents the work of an army of volunteers: According to their website, “LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books.” I’ve heard that the audio / reader quality can vary, but most people seem quite satisfied. The catch is, of course, that LibriVox only has materials that are in the public domain in the United States, generally meaning items published prior to 1923.

If there aren’t worries about particular versions or translations, LibriVox could also be a wonderful alternative for your students, whether they are looking to save money or whether an audio format is simply easier for them to use.

Summer Technology Time

Whether your school year is done, still going, or about to re-start for summer school, we hope you find a little downtime this summer.

The summer is also a great time to learn about and practice integrating new technology tools into your upcoming classes.

Where to begin? Start small – maybe one new thing for next term. Is there a technology tool that you’re using to keep yourself organized or for your research that might benefit your students? Have your colleagues been doing exciting things with technology? Is there a tool out there that might help illustrate the concepts with which students struggled the most this year? Alternately, can you build on the successes you had with teaching tools this year?

Here are two helpful approaches to summer and educational technology: My Summer Tech To-Do List and Five Teaching Tools to Try this Summer.

If you’re TCU faculty, note that the Koehler Center also has some upcoming workshops and open labs. Perhaps you’d like to learn about all the features of LearningStudio? Or maybe you’re ready to get the most out of the gradebook? We’re here to help!

If you’re looking to branch out beyond LearningStudio, check out our resources for Multimedia & Teaching Tools. You can find everything there from information there about recording your own audio and video to information about different apps, ways to find images for your courses, uses for social media in your course, etc.

Last, let us know what you’re learning about this summer! What technology-related changes are you hoping to make the next time you teach?

Google+ Hangouts

This is an intriguing on article about online education using Google+ Hangouts. The subject matter is cooking, and students can sign up for private instruction or for a group class in which the chef teaches up to nine students. The limit is set by the number of people that can simultaneously participate in the video conversation. The benefit of learning in this manner? Unlike cooking shows or cookbooks, the instruction happens in real-time and students can ask questions. Maybe I’ll eventually have a shot at making a decent pie crust!

While charging per Google+ Hangout class is not the revenue model that makes sense for most universities, the article also has some great suggestions about how to use Google+ Hangouts for collaboration and live video interaction  – talk about a dynamic approach to virtual office hours!

Students, Technology, and Crunch Time

A recent study finds that:

[While] students are tech-savvy and have plenty of gizmos, they may not be as distracted by these technologies as some may think . . . Results showed that students take a “less is more” approach when exam pressure starts bearing down. Students use technology to help them study and to communicate with others, the report found. And students are using the library less for its traditional resources — books, journals, etc. — and more as a place to get away from the hectic world around them.

Interestingly, the researchers also found that “65 percent [of students interviewed] said they used social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, to coordinate study sessions or group work.”

Social media isn’t just a coordination tool for students, it can also be a study tool: “nearly two-thirds of the respondents said they had used social media for coursework. One student said he was having trouble understanding concepts in his physics class, so he researched lessons on YouTube, which helped him catch up with the coursework.”

Have you noticed students leveraging social media for learning purposes in your courses?

Last, here’s hoping that – however the studying happened – this is a successful exam week for all parties!

Using a Webcam

Are you thinking about using a webcam to record a brief course or instructor introduction? An instructor recording can also be a great introduction or summary for a particularly tricky concept or unit.

Check out this short video on webcam tips from the The Visual Lounge.


In addition, helpful resources can be found on the Koehler Center website, including video recording advice, general video information, and documentation regarding placing audio / video file types into your LearningStudio course shell.