The following is an executive summary for the Dissertation FM blog, which is documenting the development and progress of Podcasting History: A study in Educational Podcast Engagement. In this summary, we shall be reviewing the progress and development of our project over the past three months, from initial concept ideas to the project proposal and contextual development documents handed in at the end of this year. We shall refer back to previous posts all of which should be hyperlinked within the summary, and should be categorized and contain each the relevant links and resources I’ve used in the development of our project so far. This executive summary should act as an overview of the blog from the dates 12/09/14 until 08/12/14 and cover the most important moments of the development and formation of the project.
For our fourth year project were we given an “opportunity to design and undertake a sustained theoretical and creative exploration of a specialist subject area” (Abertay Handbook 2014), that could involve almost any subject area we were willing to research and immerse ourselves within. Initially, I had a lot of problems with this simply due to indecision of what route to go down, and had focused on my interesting in writing and film. For this reason I had thought of two ideas- exploring the ideas of room tones, something I had experimented with in a project last year and possibly filming my own and re-scoring film clips to change the dynamics and feeling of a scene. My other idea involved fictional ingame radio stations in games such as Grand Theft Auto and the Fallout series. After reading up and studying these two idea threads for a couple of weeks however, I began to become more and more disillusioned with both ideas. The “Room Tone” idea felt unoriginal and “done to death”, and the Radio Station idea felt vague and difficult to measure. Finally, I decided that my interest in the study and writing of history needed to be utilised. I felt that following this route would allow me to create something I was much more interested in, such as recreating the sounds of old ships, ancient battlefields or famous speeches. However I was still unconfident about my skills in sound editing, I also began toying with the idea of documentaries and interviews, and possibly trying to incorporate those skills into a project.
Come October, I had decided to cut the projects I was unhappy with. While it was a waste of a lot of reading and research, I reasoned that I needed to focus on the ideas I was most interested in: History and Interviews. I now had two solid ideas: Recreating soundscapes of either World War 1 battlefields or Ships at sea in the 17th and 18th century, or an interview series that was a combination of projects like storycorps and a archive of interviews with people around the country. I was still struggling with a quantifiable aim- how are these projects measurable? What are the results? What conclusions or question can I answer? After writing proposals for both my interview series and ships sounds idea, and finding that something similar to my WW1 idea had already been done by the BBC, I had begun to hit a wall- I needed to come up with an measurable question or something I could draw results from. Luckily I had found several studies on how the effectiveness of podcasts as a teaching tool, and I realised a way to combine all my ideas.
My final at the end of October my idea came together, and I realised I could combine all three ideas into one- a study in the effectiveness of podcast editing techniques. It would allow me to create history podcasts that use writing techniques, editing techniques and creative sound effect techniques to “place you in the moment”, and measure the effectiveness of each on their effectiveness to retain audiences and teach them. I would make three episodes, and three variations of each one. Our streaming website would offer a random variation to each listener and a survey, and I could gauge the effectiveness of each based on feedback and surveys. I made up a draft question and aim set at the start of November, and soon developed it into my full research proposal. Since then, it has been a case of developing my project into a proper study- first writing an episode and figuring out the variations in each one, and other considerations like the website and logos to make the project professional and presentable.
In conclusion, our project has developed well. It was plagued at first by my own indecisiveness, but the broad approach I took to research finally paid off when it came to combining the three main ideas into a single project. Our next task to finish the scripts for each variation of episode and begin the recording process.
Note- you can find any posts not linked here my checking the category page, this has each stage of development categorized so the stages of development, reading lists, summaries and posts about related ideas can be read and navigated easier.