As I mentioned before, I've been teaching an online intro to computers and library stuff course this summer. One thing I've been experimenting with is providing audio lectures for each week of class in WebCT. The lectures ran from between 3 and 15 minutes, depending on the topic for the week.
I'm using a state wide podcast server hosted by the folks at GC&SU to host my files, which has been both good and bad. The uploading process is very simple, making it easy for anyone to provide media content to courses or use the server to host class projects. You can set up different "podcast channels" for different content areas. And each "channel" automatically has its own feed for syndication.
I also found a pretty cool script in the help section that let's you create a clickable image in WebCT that launches QuickTime for whatever files, audio or video, you want to include. The final product looks like this:
So far so good, but there are a couple of downsides. First, the feeds only work through iTunes. You can't create all-purpose feeds through Feedburner or anything. GCSU is pretty deep in with Apple, but this really isn't acceptable. There are at least a few students out there (7 to be exact...I counted) in Georgia who have a non-iPod media player. So the portability of class content for these students is automatically limited.
To get around this I tried to link the individual MP3 files to a Blogger blog and run the blog through Feedburner to make a multi-player feed for the class. No dice. For some reason the files hosted on the server refuse show up as enclosures even when linked elsewhere and Feedburned. I was able to host the exact same files on OurMedia and create a feed from that, but the upload and download times are often too slow to be useful. Fortunately, nobody took advantage of subscribing, they preferred to listen from WebCT.
Despite the slight technical problems, my students seemed to like having the lectures online. In discussions, one student said it helps to "humanize" the class and another wrote that:
"One can often gain a different meaning from hearing something as opposed to just reading it, so I find the audio lessons help me feel I have a better grasp of the material and the assignments."
So I'll definitely keep it up next semester and would definitely recommend providing some sort of audio/video lecture content if you're teaching online!