This is merely a “how-to” moment in the conference. I found an easy (and free) way to record audio files in my office and stream them out from my office computer via a standard web page. If you’re fortunate enough to have a server at your institution that has streaming capabilities, then none of this will be of interest to you. This talk is for those of us who wish to do what “can’t be done,” and find ourselves going it alone.
Assuming that you can appreciate the value of adding audio and video files to your web-based course materials, I’ll dispense with the pep talk. I’ll also assume you understand the difference between a file which must be downloaded in toto before you can use it, and one that is streamed out. In the case of a large audio or video file over a dial-up connection, the difference is critical.
If you have a current RealPlayer on your computer, you can inspect what I did at http://www.uncc.edu/classics/latin/tutorial_realaudio.htm. If you don’t have a RealPlayer, you should get one. They’re free at www.real.com, though they’ll make you hunt around for it. (Full URLs are provided in the Appendix.) Let’s get to work.
Hardware You Need
- A computer with a sound card.
- A microphone that plugs into the sound card.
- A computer with a static IP number. You can find out whether you have one by asking your network administrator. If you do, you can see it by doing Run ? winipcfg (in Windows 95/98 for PC.) It’s called the IP Address.
Software You Need
- The free RealProducer downloaded and installed.
- The free RealServer downloaded and installed.
- A web page with a valid link to the file.
- Download and install the freeware RealProducer and RealServer from www.real.com. (See Appendix for the direct URLs.) Start both programs.
- Use your microphone and Real Producer’s session wizard to create your audio file. The wizard makes the process very intuitive. You’ll see what to do. Record about ten minutes of noise and call the “sound.rm.” This is just a demonstration, remember? Save the file in the default directory, which is c:\program files\real\realserver\content.
- Create a link to the file on a page somewhere on your website. The link has this syntax: http://9126.96.36.199:8080/ramgen/sound.rm, where 9188.8.131.52 is your IP Address. The IP Address directs the link to your computer, and the 8080 tells it what port it’s to use to get access to the files. “ramgen” tells RealServer that it’s time to get to work. It looks for the file in its default directory, which is way down there at c:\program files\real\realserver\content. When it finds it, it starts streaming it back out. Then, when the file first touches your computer -and if you’ve created the correct file extension association – your computer will spawn RealPlayer. After a few seconds of buffering, your file will play.
Imagine the Possibilities
Anything that can be digitized can be streamed out over the Internet. You can record and post class lectures. If you teach a foreign language, you can record texts or conversations in your office and post them to the class. You can set up an audio FAQ for particularly nasty difficulties that students have year after year. If you have a video capture card, you can convert and post short clips from films. You can add coordinated audio tracks to PowerPoint presentations and post them. The mind boggles.
URL Appendix (Current as of July 12, 2001)
- Real Player Basic 8.0: http://proforma.real.com/real/player/player.html?src=010709realhome_1,010613rpchoice_h1&dc=713712711
- RealProducer: http://www.realnetworks.com/products/index.html?src=search
- RealServer: http://proforma.real.com/rn/servers/univdwnld/index.html?ulf=bas&src=r-realnetworks,srvrbsc_011901