2006 NETA Conference Treasure

Discovering Digital TreasureThe 2006 Nebraska Educational Association's spring conference was held April 27 and 28 in Omaha. People not from the area may be surprised at just how large this conference is. There were over 140 breakout sessions and dozens of poster gallery displays. There were several sessions about podcasting, among them was my session, "Radio for Kids, by Kids." Unfortunately, there were zero sessions for handheld computers. I would have gladly presented a handheld session had I known they would not be represented at all. Three years ago the conference had a special strand dedicated to handhelds; you could join a breakout session about handheld computing each hour for two days. It was great. But, podcasting was certainly the all of the talk of the presenters and participants at the NETA conference. In fact, there is a NETA Conference 2006 Podcast where you can listen to 14 recordings of keynote and featured sessions.

This year's conference theme was Discovering Digital Treasure. I discovered many tidbits from the sessions I attended. Allow me to share a few you may be interested in:

Apple users are probably familiar with the "teardrop" sound when they adjust a Mac's volume. This sound can be distracting, especially when playing audio for a group of students or teachers. Janet Hill from Apple shared with me that if you hold down the Shift key while pressing the Volume Up or Volume Down buttons, you won't hear the teardrop noise as you adjust the volume.

I attended Janet Hill's presentation about iWeb. It's Mac software that is part of Apple's iLife '06. It makes it really easy to drag and drop photos, audio, podcasts, and movies into a page for the web. Janet showed a video from Louisa-Muscatine Elementary about using iPods with special education students. Which, by the way, their site was made using iWeb.

Many people really want to use iPod for recording voice (especially podcasters). With older iPods that do not play video, you can purchase an iTalk. However, that same iTalk will not work with the current fifth generation of iPods that can play video because the connector has changed. Janet Hill, an Education Development Executive for Apple, says that companies like Griffin, Belkin, and Extreme Mac all have plans to release a voice recorder for the newest iPods. She says that she's been told a recorder will be available next month. However, after seeing a prototype for one in January, she's been told every month that a recorder will be released "next month." Whenever a recorder attachment is finally available, you can be sure there will be a large back order because many people want to record audio with their new iPods.

The very humorous and down-to-Earth Leslie Fisher presented several sessions both days. You can listen to them through the NETA Conference 2006 Podcast. Check out the slide shows that she used for Great Gadgets and MP3. I've got to tell you, Leslie is so funny and was my favorite presenter at this conference. Take a listen and look at her sample podcast she made using iWeb and iLife '06.

Dan Schmit presented "KidCast: Podcasting in the Classroom" Friday afternoon. His presentation is available from the NETA Conference Podcast. Dan also has an online handout and a wonderful podcast about podcasting called KidCast. Dan began the session by recording a podcast with a group of audience members. He used a unidirectional microphone that is sensitive to sounds from only one person, so as each person recorded, he or she moved in front of the mic. Besides unidirectional microphones, there's also omnidirectional. Omnidirectional microphones, like those found built into computers, pick up sound from every direction, including background noise. During his presentation, Dan mentioned a list of software programs that create RSS feeds. I'd like to add that there is a free RSS feed maker called Free Podcast Maker.