Sound Education 2019 – Post 1

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October 10, 2019 by Dr. G

As I continue my journey into learning about the world of podcasting (after attending Podcast Movement in Orlando), I’m now attending a podcasting conference focused on higher education. This is the second year that Sound Education is taking place, hosted by Harvard Divinity School’s Ministry of Ideas. Being in Boston in October is very different than being in Orlando in August!

A flyer I picked up during the opening reception on the first evening (Oct. 9th) shares more about this conference for educational audio producers and listeners:

Educational audio producers are using the power of sound to bring learning out of the classroom and onto the airwaves. Their shows reach tens of millions of listeners a year – listeners who know that learning is a lifelong pursuit and see producers offering an ever-expanding course catalog. Listeners tune in every week to learn about subjects they love, and hear about topics they didn’t even know existed. Sound Education brings these producers and listeners together to celebrate the joy of lifelong learning, and to share the craft and theory behind the shows that teach, entertain, and leave us wanting to know more.

This conference has a little of everything when it comes to learning and podcasts. After the opening reception, I was able to attend a live show of The Allusionist podcast at WBUR studios – it was so much fun, and yes, I learned alot! This is a podcast series I am definitely going to go back and check out some more.

On the first full day (Oct. 10th) I attended some workshops and a keynote. The first workshop addressed taking existing podcast episodes and how to pull them together to create an online course. I’ve taught online before, and I’ve used podcasts in my online courses. This was an interesting session to think about approaches to online course design and thinking of teaching to audiences beyond the students at my campus. [*Note the person in the purple sweater below? That’s me!]

After grabbing a quick lunch at a local diner (I love local diners and dives!), I headed to my next workshop. This workshop provided an overview of the sound editing software Hindenburg. I learned briefly about Hindenburg at a workshop I attended at the Science History Institute earlier this year, but this workshop has me 99% convinced that this will be the software I use when I kick off my podcast series (and thank goodness for educational pricing!). This software really is designed for the storyteller in mind, removing all of the distracting puttons and menu options. I can’t wait to dig in and start playing around with it!

The day ended with a keynote and a reception at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. The Harvard Museum was AMAZING! I definitely need to come back and spend time going through the halls and collections (but our Academy of Natural Sciences in Philly can’t be beat for its dinosaurs!). The keynote was a conversation between a Harvard Law Professor (Noah Feldman) and the President of Sound Education (Zachary Davis).

I jotted down some notes that I need to spend some additional time reflecting upon:

  • Podcasting lets you discuss ideas in depth and make them accessible to a wide audience (the public can engage and form their own views)
  • Podcasting allows for the immediacy of communicating ideas, in your actual voice. People like to hear the narrative with a personal component
  • Many say that listening to podcasts is referred to as an intimate activity (ear buds in ears, blocking out the rest of the world). But radio was never referred to as an intimate listening experience – why is this?
  • In podcasting, you don’t need to produce for a mass audience like radio – your podcast is for your people
  • Could you create an entire liberal arts education out of podcasts.
  • Podcasting is a parallel university – a university of sound
  • Anyone with a podcast is a public intellectual, even if you are not a credited teacher. But this comes with genuine responsibilities. Be sincere with your vision. You have a civic responsibility to be honest to society. And avoid the temptation to be “nasty” to build communities.


There were also some discussions around civic education, the Constitution, and speaking truth to power. And there is one more note I made (as a woman in STEM myself, I unfortunately find myself in audiences at presentations where this happens all too often)…

Soon enough, my voice will be added to the number of female-hosted podcasts (can’t wait!). But the entire podcasting field has much further to go.

There are multiple sessions and keynotes tomorrow, I look forward to being fully saturated with even more “sound education”!



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But I have to share one more post from the #OSM20 fieldtrip to @birchaquarium and @scripps_ocean. And I don't know why this didn't click with me before I went on the trip, but Scripps Institution of Oceanography was the home of Charles Keeling (you know... the "Keeling Curve" guy). He was mentioned briefly during our time on campus, but I wanted more! So I ran over to his building to snap some photos, including photos in front of the historic markers. After visiting the Mauna Loa Laboratory back in 2014 (throwback photo included), it was great to come complete circle on the journey of CO2 measurements! #historicmarker #ACSmarker #Keeling
The last stop on the #OSM20 @scripps_ocean tour was the marine vertebrate collection. This collection focuses on fish-only, as the whale bones were given to NOAA once the Marine Mammal Protection Act went into effect. The collection was founded in 1944 and focuses mostly on eastern Pacific marine fish. We learned many cool, random fish facts! For example, this collection has over 2 million individual fish specimens that represents more than 6,000 fish species. Yet there have been 35,000 fish species identified in the world, with 500 new fish species identified each year. We saw the deepest fish ever caught - a type of snail fish from the Mariana Trench (~7,966 m deep). We also saw lots of fish in jars - a whale shark, goblin shark, viper fish, angler fish, and blob fish!
Next stop at #OSM20 @scripps_ocean was the Hubbs Research Aquarium - which is true to its name, as it clearly resembles a research laboratory! So many cool experiments are being done here by Scripps faculty. The work on the white sea bass was interesting, looking at the otoliths (inner ear bone) and what impact changing ocean pH will have on them for equilibrium and their growth? As this fish is used alot in the aquaculture industry, this work has great releavance. The sea urchin work on the white, purple (no photo), and red varieties was also fascinating. For example, how do human chemicals that wash into the ocean impact the growth and defense mechanisms of these sea creatures? In some cases, the reaction can be seen under a microscope. And the albino shark was just really cool to see...
Being a part of the #OSM20 fieldtrip allowed us special access to the @scripps_ocean Scripps Pier. This 1,000 foot-long pier increases six feet in height as you walk out from the shore, so water can filtered and be pumped back to the laboratories in the black seawater flume that runs along its length. The pier is designed to lower their smaller research vessels and divers, but it also takes important water measurements (looking down the opening where literally a bucket is lowered to collect a sample) and air measurements through weather stations and the pink pole at the end of the pier. These temperature measurements are critical for climate change mapping. What a view of sandstone faces, surfers, and oh yes - we saw dolphins, too!
Next stop on the #OSM20 fieldtrip was to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. We had a box lunch (with a box of water!) and a fascinating summary of the history of Scripps presented by Kirk Gardner. We heard about Revelle, Keeling, and more! @scripps_ocean
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