What it does:
On-line radio lets users hear audio files streamed over the Internet. This can either be live audio or saved audio files that are streamed to the user. This means that the user can begin hearing the file right away while the rest of the file downloads. I have some examples of radio sites at my web radio resources page. There are also many music-only web radio sites.
Potential educational use:
I see this technology used in school two different ways. One way is to use existing web radio sites as a resource in class. Students can listen to the news in class and discuss it. Teachers are more likely to have a computer in their classroom then cable TV, so this provides a great way to access CNN, the BBC and other news outlets. I like to compare the way different countries cover international news events and discuss why these differences exist.
The other way this resource can be used is by letting students create and maintain their own Internet Radio Station. This becomes quite a bit more complicated, but it is a great communication tool. Students can practice radio announcing with their own stories. They can do play-by-play on school sporting events and cover school music concerts. Daily announcement could be posted on the Internet. The possibilities are endless.
How might it change teaching and learning?
By using existing web radio sites, teachers are opening their classroom to the world's audio. The second use, creating a school web radio, offers a REAL experience for students. I hate giving my students "fake" writing assignments in journalism class.
When and how it could be obtained:
Listening to web radio is very easy. Most sites require a small program that you can download for free. Apple's Quicktime 4 is commonly used. RealMedia is another possibility and Microsoft also has a similar product (I won't include that link here, see my rantings against the cathedral post for more info!).
? Creating a web radio station is an entirely different story. I hoping to make a station for my school this semester as part of my major project. I'm not going to try live web-streaming just yet. I would be very happy to create saved audio files that could be accessed by our community. It is possible to create a web station now, but it isn't the easiest thing to set up. Hopefully it will become easier as the technology evolves.
Cost today, and in the future:
Listening is free, just an easy download. Creating could possibly cost money or be done for free.
Hardware and software requirements:
A fairly fast computer and Internet connection are required for listening. These are resources that are available at least somewhere in a school (I hope!). Anything too slow will be frustrating, time consuming and may produce botchy sound.General Warning:
To put together a web station there are several requirements.
1. A fast Internet connection. In order to accommodate users requesting large audio files you need a connection that can handle data quickly.
2. A computer that acts as a server with a large amount of RAM.
3. A software program that will distribute your audio as users request streams. You can use RealNetwork that works on Windows 95/98/NT and Linux platforms and costs $2000. The free alternative is Apple's Quicktime Streaming Server that is available on the Mac. This program is part of Apple's Open Source project so it will probably become available in other platforms in the near future. I also found a beta streaming server from Entera that works on Linux of Windows 98/NT and is free. This streaming server does not currently support live streams.
4. A way to digitalize and compress audio. Any computer with a sound card and microphone is able to easily digitalize audio. There are other ways of doing this too. RealProducer Plus for $150 works on Windows 95/98/NT, Linux and Mac and is used to fine-tune audio files. There are also other small programs that let you edit audio. It would be helpful to have a second computer to digitize and compress audio if you are not using a computer microphone.
I'm trying to figure this all out, but it is very confusing. Please let me know if there are any errors here or if I am missing any vital information. This is not meant in any way to be an authoritative source on web radio stations.
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