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January 9, 2007

CALI Classcaster: A Course Centric Blogging and Podcasting System

Note: This article contains a lengthy description of the Classcaster system.  I am preparing a separate article on what I've learned about the pros and cons of course blogging while administering Classcaster.

Classcaster® is a course blogging system that provides faculty, librarians, and staff of CALI member schools with a new way to interact with students and communities. A Classcaster blog provides authors with tools for posting not only traditional blog articles but also tools for podcasting and sharing any documents and/or files with students and communities. During the Fall 2006 semester over 70 faculty and librarians from CALI member schools posted over 1000 hours of course lectures and summaries for their students.  In addition many authors posted syllabi, assignments, slides, and engaged students in discussion on their Classcaster blogs.

By visiting the Classcaster homepage faculty, staff, and librarians can quickly create a Classcaster blog with features that include a unique URL (web address), custom templates, moderated comments, password protection for blogs and posts, file sharing, podcasting, and the ability to list your blog in the iTunes Music Store.  This collection of features allow authors to easily connect with students to share information.  A single author can create multiple blogs, so you may have a blog for each of your courses.  Using Classcaster's advanced features you can record your lectures or audio supplements to lectures using a telephone and have that recording posted to your blog.

Support for getting started with and using Classcaster is available from the Classcaster FAQ and the support forum.  Additional information about Classcaster is included in the Legal Education Podcasting Project FAQ and the original Classcaster whitepaper.

In the two years we have been developing and using Classcaster a number of questions have come up about the system beyond just how to use it.  I have included them below to help people in deciding about whether or not to use Classcaster.

  • Is Classcaster really free? Will it stay that way?
    • Yes, Classcaster is available as a free service to the faculty, librarians, and staff of over 200 CALI member schools. Classcaster has quickly become a core service of CALI and as such will remain free of charge to members for the foreseeable future.
  • Will Classcaster continue to be supported by CALI?
    • Yes. As I mentioned above Classcaster is key part of our plans for the future and is a central service provided by CALI to our members. As such we will continue to support Classcaster into the future.
  • Is there a limit on disk space a person or school can use on Classcaster?
    • No, at this time we are not limiting disk an author or school can use on Classcaster. We monitor disk space closely and the system is expandable enough that we can easily add disk space as it is needed. Podcasts, posts, and other documents stored on Classcaster will be available there into the future.
  • Does the telephone recording to podcasting feature really work consistently?
    • Yes. Most of John’s interviews with the faculty podcasters of the Legal Education Podcasting Project were recorded using the telephone recording and auto-podcasting features of Classcaster. For the most part the system performed well. Of course there is only one phone line at the moment, so you may get a busy signal, but you can just try again later. We are looking into expanding the number of available phone lines on the system.
  • I would really like all of the faculty at my school to use Classcaster. Will the system support all X faculty (where X is some number)?
    • Sure. The Classcaster blogging system should easily support several hundred bloggers and podcasters. As the system grows we will expand its storage and processing capabilities to make sure that it will provide your communities with access. The telephone to podcast part of the system has only one phone line at the moment, so you may get a busy signal, but you can just try again later. We are looking into expanding the number of available phone lines on the system.
  • Can I customize Classcaster’s look and feel, invite colleagues to contribute to the blog, and have more than one blog?
    • Yes, yes, and yes. All of these features are available. Please review the Classcaster FAQ for details.
  • Can I create a blog for our Library? Admissions Office? Career Services?
    • Yes. Folks from member schools are free to create blogs so long as the blogs are related to the function of the law school. Blogs of a personal nature are beyond the scope of Classcaster.
  • I’m not really interested in podcasting, but would like to have blog, may I use Classcaster?
    • Yes. We know not everyone is interested in podcasting, but may like to try blogging. By all means, try Classcaster.

Elmer Masters

January 9, 2007 in Teaching -- pedagogy, Technology -- for advancing scholarship, Technology -- in general, Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink


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