Add cover art and other extras to your mp3 files

Since 2007, I’ve been co-producing a podcast, titled Lab Out Loud, for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). With each episode, I like to have all the important details about the show saved right in the mp3 file.

podcast details
add cover art and more to your mp3 files

I use a free program called Mp3tag to add things like title, artist, and cover art to each mp3. Mp3tag allows you to copy the tag from a previous file right into the new file. This makes updating new files a breeze.

with Mp3tag – adding info to audio files in a breeze

Despite its name, Mp3tag supports a wide variety of audio files. Beyond its simply features, Mp3tag offers a few extra tricks for managing large collections of audio. I have been using this free tool for years and recommend that you give it a look.

A year of podcasting- what have I learned

Last year I created a podcast for my physics students. It started off as a simple recap of the past week and an overview of the week to come. However, it evolved into much more than just a review for the students. It became a learning experience for me.

For starters, I learned that students, like with any other resource, needed to be shown how to use the new medium. I guess all the hype over the so-called “digital native” made me think that my students would just instantly pick up on the idea of a podcast. Not true at all. A large majority of my students didn’t even know what a podcast was before I started using them for class. Don’t let the “your kids already know how to do this” blather fool you. They need to be taught.

The students taught me several things too. Especially helpful was the feedback they gave me on a survey I gave at the end of the last school year.

Below is a slideshow of the results:

Slideshow above might be blocked (download original slides)

Based on the student feedback, here is what I plan to do differently regarding this year’s podcast:

  • encourage students to use it: Just like the textbook, notes or homework, a podcast is a resource that needs promoting.
  • have an out-of-class experience: We always have extra problems and labs to do in physics. The podcast allows students to see examples that we just don’t have time for in class.
  • always keep the quiz in mind: When making a podcast, always keep your next assessment in mind because it is what many of your students are thinking about as they watch.
  • more videos: It take more of your time but the videos were far more valuable to my students that just the audio.
  • write a script: You don’t need to write a script that you plan to follow verbatim but an rough outline will cut down on the “babble” in your podcast.
  • keep it short: My students complained incessantly when the podcast went over seven minutes. Many of them said they wouldn’t watch it if it was too long.
  • share clips in class: This goes back to encouraging students to use the podcast. If you have something great in the podcast, there is no reason not to show a little clip in class too.
  • get them subscribing: Show students how to subscribe to the podcast with tools like iTunes, Google Reader, or MyYahoo. If your podcast shows up on their desktops automatically, they will be more compelled to use it.

Watch (or subscribe) to this year’s season of BaslerCast.

Networking with Yahoo! Teacher

Brian Bartel and I finished our 52nd podcast episode for the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers. We celebrate a year of podcasting with an interview with Derek Baird. He talks to us about Yahoo’s soon-to-be-released service Yahoo! Teachers. Yahoo! Teachers lets you create projects with other teachers and network with colleagues in your discipline.

Running Time: 18:40

Listen now:


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Show Notes:

My Video Podcast Trek

I’ve been tinkering with video podcasts the past few weeks. My goal is to use the podcast so students can review:

  • notes from the past week
  • the practice problems at their own pace
  • demonstrations and lab activities performed in class

I started off by writing out my notes with GE’s Imagination Cubed and then did a screen capture with Windows Media Encoder. It works but the video of the Imagination Cubed came out choppy and the Windows Media Encoder does not give you many options when outputting the video.I really wanted the video to be available as a Flash video— similar to what YouTube does. The best video converter I found for this job was the free version of Riva FLV Encoder. It was easy to use, provided many options and converted the files quickly. If you have several videos to convert, you make want to download the trial of Riva Producer. It does batch converting and allows you to edit your videos in a timeline.

To play the videos, I chose the Flash Video Player. This free player is easy to configure if you read the directions. I had one snag with the slider but I solved this by using the proper metatags in my flv files. To fix the metatags I used FLV MetaData Injector. Again, this was explained in the installation directions. To host Flash video at your site, you’ll also need to update your webserver’s MIME types to include the flv extension.

The best piece of software I encountered on this trek was Camtasia. It is not a free program but they do offer a fully functional trial version for 30 days. Camtasia is primarily a screen capture program (used to produce screencasts) but I found it does so much more.

Here are just a few highlights:

  • edit and trim your video
  • add zooms, pans and transitions
  • add a second audio track
  • insert captions and overlays
  • export to a wide variety of formats

Camtasia was easy to use and provided timeline style editing. After I finished editing the video, I was able to produce a Flash version and an iPod friendly version in just one step.

There is something weird about seeing your lesson on an iPod. What’s even weirder is seeing students use it!

The last step to any podcasting adventure is the most crucial—create the rss feed. Your media can not be called a podcast without it. The rss feed is a text file that contains specific information about your show and describes each episode. You update the feed each time you create a new episode. I used several templates as an example to make my feed. (examples: 1, 2, 3) If you want to be iTunes friendly, you’ll need to follow some of their special formatting rules. You’ll also want submit your feed to Apple so users can search for your podcast right inside iTunes.

Here is my final product. I welcome feedback, questions and comments.

Find favorite Podcasts with social networks

digg Before you start creating your own podcast, I think it is important that you first listen to a few.

To get started I’d like to recommend one of my favorite tech sites:

Digg is a user driven social content website. Ok, so what the heck does that mean? Well, everything on Digg is submitted by our community (that would be you). After you submit content, other people read your submission and Digg what they like best. If your story rocks and receives enough Diggs, it is promoted to the front page for the millions of visitors to see.

Digg is predominately a tech news website but it is moving into other areas such as politics and science. What I like best is it’s new podcast section. Digg makes it really easy to shop around for shows just for you. Watch this video to learn how.

Give Digg a try. (note: you’ll need to register to try out the podcast section. Don’t worry, it is safe and painless.)

Reading up on podcasting

Several of you have asked me about my podcasts. (here and here)

In the future, I hope to offer some specific steps explaining how I get my shows online. This will take a little more time to prepare. For now, I’m going to suggest some readings about podcasting.

Level your audio with The Levelator

Over the past few months Brian Bartel and I have been producing a weekly podcast for our science teacher organization. On our show we’ve done phone interviews with various guests. Often our guests are much quieter that Brian and I. I’ve tried tweaking the audio in Audacity but it takes a long time to adjust a 25 minute show.

Tweak no more! I just found out about a new tool called The Levelator from GigaVox Media. This free tool levels out the audio automatically. The quiet gets louder, the loud gets quieter—all in mere seconds with The Levelator.

Check out this example:

Before Levelator:

After Levelator

This program is a dream come true and a huge timesaver in podcasting postproduction. Give it a try.

Search for text in a podcast

Let’s say you heard a great podcast about a museum opening in Milwaukee called “Discovery World”. However, you can’t remember which podcast talked about it.

Try Podzinger.

PODZINGER is a podcast search engine that lets you search the full audio of both audio and video podcasts just like you search for any other information on the web.

PODZINGER creates a text index of the audio data from audio and video files, using the industry’s leading speech-to-text technology from BBN Technologies, to enable search within a podcast, not just within the metadata.

Give it a try.

UPDATE: is now