21 February 2007

Using a "podcast tour" as a teaching exercise

A teacher asked: "Does anyone else have good lessons for teaching directions?"

Here's an idea that goes beyond the box.

This is an article about a really cool idea. They have developed dial-up audio guided tours through various cities. I think it's fantastic.

When I went to Beijing and visited the Forbidden City I opted for an audio cassette recorded tour. I think it was Roger Moore (AKA James Bond) who narrated it. It was great. He told you to go to the left, look up and then explained the ceiling. Then told you to walk over to the door and he told you about the door. He was kind of funny, too, and slipped in a few jokes. I really enjoyed that tour.

This is something teachers could do. Teachers could record a tour for their students to listen to. Lots of students have MP3's these days.

The teacher could guide the student through part of the city or campus or whatever. The teacher doesn't have to give a straight tour but could tell little stories about what the place reminds the teacher of ("This is where my bicycle was stolen"), could relate it to places in the west by comparing ("These McDonalds are exactly the same all over the world"), make up a drama to go along with the surroundings ("She was sitting there, on the park bench, when she saw a shadow moving behind the bushes"), make it like a treasure hunt ("Your next clue will be on the second tree to the left"), a city crossing ("Take the number 12 bus to the third street past Beijing Lu, get out and walk to the right") or other personal comments ("I liked the lunch box meals they sold here until the time I got sick for three days"), etc.

On a recent trip to Macau I was thinking about doing something like that. I was following some tour from a book but it was a bit boring. So I thought about making my own tour in audio but just invent stories and totally crazy made-up things to make it at least more interesting than the tour book although not as factual.


NEW YORK — Would you like Steven Tyler to tell you to "walk this way" in Boston, or Jerry Stiller to escort you through New York City?

The Aerosmith rocker, "Seinfeld" actor and "Aliens" actress Sigourney Weaver are among several stars lending their voices to new cell phone-guided tours of U.S. cities, a technology-based project that trades unknown docents for high-wattage celebrities.

In the "Boston: City of Rebels and Dreamers" tour, for example, visitors to the Massachusetts capital can call a special number and be treated to Tyler's quirky take on Fenway Park, Boston Common and other historical hotspots.

"Eh, this is Steven Tyler. This stop is about gardens that even a rocker can love," the raspy-voiced rocker says, describing Boston's public garden. "Don't worry, we'll get to that rocker stuff later."

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