TeachLIVE and the Absurdity of “Progress”

I came across something so absurd, and so initially shocking, I almost thought it was a joke. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have reached a new height in absurd uses of technology. I give you: TeachLIVE.

TeachLIVE...all except the

TeachLIVE: We standardize the students for you!

The name itself is a joke because there is no teaching involved, and it is nowhere close to “live.”

I wanted to write last night, but 24 hours later, I’m still so frustrated by this that I’m having trouble staying coherent. In short, University of Central Florida has decided that teachers learning to teach in real classrooms poses a threat to students. In fact, they believe learning to teach in a real classroom can be so harmful, they make sure you know this from the opening sentence:

TLE TeachLivE™ is a mixed-reality classroom with simulated students that provides teachers the opportunity to develop their pedagogical practice in a safe environment that doesn’t place real students at risk.

Somebody pinch me.

This program is selling snake oil at the expense of the profession of teaching. Again, from the about page:

In the TLE TeachLivE™ Lab, pre-service and in-service teachers walk into a room where everything looks like a middle-school classroom including props, whiteboards, and of course, children. However, unlike the brick and mortar setting, the lab is a virtual setting and the students in the classroom are avatars.

It makes me sad because this is being heralded as a new age of teaching teachers. Hell, if we can’t make kids fit standardized tests, let’s train teachers to respond to standardized kids, so it’s easier to give the tests when you’re in front of real children. Plus, kids are a real pain to deal with when you’re learning to teach.

There’s even a promotional video (which I had to keep pausing because the ridiculous jumps by a factor of 100). I posted it below, if you want to try and watch it:

Again, this is highlighting the sad fact that the teaching profession in America is being slowly eroded. I’m planning on writing a letter to UCF to express my utter dismay at the idea that training teachers on a simulator is an adequate substitute for authentic teacher preparation. I want to encourage you to do the same.

Would the REAL @IAmTalkyTina Please Stand Up?

My schedule has been picking up like crazy, and I’m afraid this may be my last ds106 post for the summer semester. Maybe I can get one or two more assignments in, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

That being said, it’s time to clear the air.

I know Alan posted that he is the creator of @IAmTalkyTina, but I’m here to set the record straight.

As I was getting into ds106, Ben Rimes was telling me about all of the role playing and storytelling that happened within the narrative of the course. I loved that it spilled over into the online interactions, so I thought setting up a ds106 character right from the beginning based on the Twilight Zone would help me get right into the swing of things.

So, officially, I am the creator and running of @IAmTalkyTina. She isn’t going to disappear, although my work will…there are still some twists in the ds106zone Talky Tina story. Keep your eyes out. I’m still watching you…

Ben, I’m sorry if you’ve lost some sleep over me, but I sure had fun scaring the pants off you once or twice. I hope we can still be friends…

The Drive By

Short post this morning, but last night on my way home from work, I did a short drive-by reflection. I was thinking about connections and how those impact those around us. It’s in two segments, but edited into one file. The only major editing I did was to compress the files so the sound didn’t clip during playback. You can listen below.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/95996924″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

How To: Manage Hangouts On Air with Google+

I’ve been diving into Google+ a little bit more lately, and this is stemming from some of the experimenting I did yesterday, when I posted how to record a Google+ Hangout with higher quality audio for podcasting or other interview-type things (great language, I know).

That led to a discussion last night with Lisa Nielson, who was trying to schedule a Hangout On Air for a discussion happening the following night. So, I did some research, and we messed around with Google Hangouts for a few minutes and found a solution. I decided to post everything I found on managing that Hangout here. So, I submit to you: how to manage Google Hangouts On Air so people can actually find the broadcast when it begins. I’m going to outline three possible solutions, and you can take your pick.

Please note that while I tested these sitting at my desk, they have not been tested in the wild, and you should do some testing before your event to make sure you’ve got everything ready to go.

The Dedicated Page

The easiest way to help people find your broadcast is to create a page on your blog where you embed the video stream. When you are prepping the broadcast, there is an embed code in the window. You can grab this code and update the link on your blog before you actually click “Start broadcast.” It will display a “Broadcast starting soon” placeholder until you actually begin the hangout. It’s a lightweight option, and you’ll need to remember to update the link, but it’ll be easy for your audience to find each time you run a show.

Click for larger image.

You can grab the embed code at the top before you click “Start Broadcast.” Click for a larger image.

YouTube Live URL

YouTube and Google are peas in a pod, with a lot bleeding over into the other. Hangouts are the same. When you run an On Air Hangout, YouTube will automatically record and archive the video in your channel so people can go back and check it out if they miss the live broadcast. But, there are a couple things you need to do first in order to get that to work. Rather than reposting it, here is a Google+ thread with all of the setup that needs to happen in order to get Hangouts On Air to work properly. It isn’t as much as it sounds like, but it’s a good idea to check to make sure you’re not stung at the end.

Okay, back to how YouTube makes this easy. Once your account is verified and your channel linked to your Google+ profile, you can grab a super-awesome new URL that will always be the live stream in the future. I learned this from ReelSEO’s channel, and you can take a look at the video if you want to see the whole process. In short, share the following URL with your audience for any On Air broadcast:


Obviously, replace the USERNAME with your username. So, mine would be http://www.youtube.com/bennettscience/live for any On Air broadcast. When you’re not live, viewers will be redirected to your YouTube channel.

Why should you do this rather than embedding a link on your blog? One word: Backchannel. YouTube’s interface includes a comment box to one side where your audience can discuss the broadcast. Engagement is always a good thing.

On the YouTube channel, your viewers can discuss what's happening right on the stream page.

On the YouTube channel, your viewers can discuss what’s happening right on the stream page.

The Event

The third, and most circuitous (but most robust) way to plan a Hangout in advance is to use a Google Event. This is the method I’m least familiar with, and honestly the workflow is a pain right now (even Google admits it), but it is powerful if you can get a system worked out. I think this would work well in conjunction with either the YouTube URL or the blog post embed.

So, if its confusing, why use Events? A couple reasons. Events link to your Calendar, so management becomes very easy. They’re also listed on your Google+ page. So, if you have subscribers connected there, they’ll see it in their stream. They can also RSVP right through the Google+ stream, so you can begin engaging before the show. It will also send a calendar reminder to people who have RSVP’d, so you’ll have a higher attendance rate (in theory.) All of that is great, but it’s the actual implementation of the show that could use some improvement.

I pulled the tips from this Google community thread, and I suggest taking a look at it. In short, here’s what you would do:

  1. Make a new regular event. You have to make it regular in order for it to work properly. If you create an “On Air” event, it just means it shows up in your public stream. You can still make the regular event public, you just need to share it with that group in the creation page. This is how you’ll get RSVP’s for the broadcast. In the description, you can also add a reminder to check back for the URL once you’re live.
  2. Before the scheduled event, create a new Hangout On Air like you normally would, and share it with those participating. This is where using the YouTube link would really be helpful, as you only need to invite those people in the hangout with you, not those watching.
  3. Copy and paste the Hangout URL into the Event details (see screenshots). This can be either the Hangout itself if you want people to join, or it can be the YouTube live user link from above to direct people to the broadcast.
  4. In your Google+ Events, click on carrot in the top-right corner of the Details card.

    In your Google+ Events, click on carrot in the top-right corner of the Details card.

Click on Advanced, and then Show More Options. You can then add a URL to your in the **website URL** field. If you try to add the link in the YouTube URL field, it’ll return an error. Thanks to Elayne Whitfield for pointing this problem out in the comments.

So, I like Events, but the workflow to actually begin the Hangout from the Event isn’t there. Again, the Events workflow is documented well in the [community thread](http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/google-plus-discuss/N_W2X7Jaj44), so take a look there for more discussion. 

How to: Record Google Hangout in High Quality

I’m working on a super-secret project right now (more to come this summer…bear with me) which will require me to record interviews via Google Hangout. Now, I know I’ve written before about how to screencast on a Chromebook using Google+, but the quality of those recordings, in particular the audio, can leave something to be desired. So, I went looking for an alternative.

I fell down the rabbit trail of apps that do this and that, but none of them really did what I needed. I knew I wanted to use Audacity to record and edit, but I couldn’t find an easy way to record both my microphone as well as the system audio for the people I’m speaking with.

Luckily, I’m currently going through ds106 with some radio geniuses who where able to help. I can’t go any further without giving ScottLo a MAJOR shout out for helping me work this out. Rather than type the entire process out, I’ve got a video showing how I set everything up to record the Google Hangout. Beneath that, you can see the tools (with links) and their settings written out.

The Video

Proof of concept mp3

The Setup – Links below take you to downloads if you don’t have the software yet.

System Audio


  • Input 1 – Soundflower (2ch)
  • Input 2 – Your microphone
  • Main output – Soundflower (64ch)
  • Aux output – Built in output/headphones (for monitoring)


  • Input – Soundflower (64ch)

Google Hangout – This works the same for Skype.

  • Input – microphone/built in mic
  • Output – Soundflower (2ch)

Again, if you need help setting this up, send me a tweet (@bennettscience) and I’m happy to help.

Twelve Pounds of Peanut Shells

I was able to squeak out another audio assignment today for the zone. While it isn’t Twilight Zone based, sometimes reading Craigslist can feel like its own alternate universe.

I chose to beat Craigslist because…well, because finding a ridiculous post was pretty fun. I made sure to stick local, so I humbly submit the following performance using material provided by my community:

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/95428636″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

This was pretty simple, as I stuck to GarageBand loops and samples. I recorded my voice right into the program and then added the radio voice effect to brighten the sound a little bit. It’s short, but it was fun.

If you don’t believe this post is real…I beg to differ.

Once You’re In…

…there’s no escape.

I wanted to catch up on assignments for the ds106zone, so I hopped in on this week’s audio work. An easy one to get in was create a radio bumper for the ds106radio channel using a short clip from The Twilight Zone.

I deviated a little from this week’s episodes by watching Five Characters in Search of an Exit, and it struck me as a great parallel for my foray into ds106. I’ve dabbled, I’ve asked questions, and I’ve explored. Now that I’m fully into the fold, I don’t think I can ever leave. The community is fantastic, and even though I haven’t kept up with the “official” class, I feel more creative accomplishment than I have in a long time.

For kicks, I also decided to throw together a very simple Twilight Zone themed radio banner. Maybe I’ll GIF it. Maybe not. If you want to remix it, you can grab the .xcf and have at it.

...there's no getting out.

…there’s no getting out.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/95373194″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Now, I just need to listen to the radio show constantly to see if ScottLo decides to use it…