March 5, 2013

Presenting Anthropology - Weeks 7&8 (Audio Projects)

Last week in class, we discussed audio media and anthropology -- how anthropologists are (or, generally, are not) employing audio to communicate their findings or interesting tidbits about the field.

To start, I asked the students to talk about how, when, and why they listen to the radio and podcasts.  Most everyone had experience listening to NPR in their cars, as well as audiobooks.  There was a surprising lack of people who routinely listened to podcasts, but I wondered if that is related to the nature of commuting here in Pensacola.  When I was a grad student at UNC, I couldn't park on campus; this meant it took me 30-45 minutes each day to walk to the bus stop, ride the bus, and then walk from the drop-off to wherever on campus I needed to go.  I listened to a lot of podcasts.  Here at UWF, there is ample parking and poor public transportation, so students tend to drive to school, listening to their radios along the way.

Dr. Judy Bense, president of UWF, recording Unearthing
Florida 
radio program at WUWF, our campus NPR station
Based on their experiences, we came up with a list of likes and dislikes for audio programming.  No one was particularly in favor of call-in shows (such as NPR's Science Friday, which can be painful to listen to) or hosts with monotones.  Most students liked "noises" in the background; not distracting noises, but sounds that related to the content of the programming.  This contributed to a feel of storytelling that they appreciated, and we discussed why, if that's primarily what anthropology is, we are not employing audio more in our research or presentations.  (In Pensacola, though, we do have a regular audio series, Unearthing Florida, hosted by archaeologist and UWF president Judy Bense.)

As far as "best practices," we listened to a lot of examples of anthropological topics on radio, mostly from sources like NPR's This American Life, and realized that most of us preferred short(ish) segments (say, 10 minutes or less) on topics that related to our lives (like local history, food, relationships, etc.).  I encouraged the students to take these ideas into consideration when they were creating their own audio projects: we may all thumb our noses at John Tesh's "Intelligence for Your Life," but millions of people hear those snippets and pay attention to the information in them because they're interesting and directly relate to their everyday lives.



Without further ado, here are the top three audio projects this week (sorry I can't embed them in Blogger; each link goes to an mp3 file in a new window):

Second Runners-Up - The team of Linda Hoang, Stella Simpsiridis, and Tina Estep created a series of under-2-minute audio programs called Anthropology: Did you know?  Four of the six below have very good production quality, and all have interesting information to communicate.  I like the idea of this series, which the students focused on little-known facts about well-known anthropologists, and the intro/outro music was created by Linda's husband, who also does the intro voiceover. They have a good mixture of subfields and nearly equal gender ratio.  It was a smartly done project.
First Runner-Up - Evan Springer, who came in third place in the print challenge, created an amusing anthropology-themed superhero in the vein of 50s radio broadcasting.
And the Winner of the Audio Challenge - Gregg Harding, who won the print challenge, made a mini-podcast about the archaeological outreach project he works on, a 19th century industrial brick site called the Scott Site.  The site, located in nearby Milton, FL, is being excavated with the help of high school students, so Gregg spoke with several students and their teacher about their hands-on learning experience.  Gregg has plans to do one or more additional podcasts throughout the semester, to see how students' perceptions of archaeology and the site change.  For more information, check out his blog, Building Heritage Education.

So far, none of the students has posted a transcript of their audio programs.  I have encouraged them to do so, however, so that people can skim the information without listening and so that they are more easily accessible for the hearing-impaired.  If they decide to create transcripts, you'll find them on their respective blogs.

Thanks for listening!  Next week is spring break, then we're back for a two-week video challenge.

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