After what seems like no time at all since this year’s third years submitted their dissertations (and I’ve still got to mark them!) the new term starts the whole process again with the second years. Once again, they will all head off for their summer holidays vowing to come back with at least the first draft done and, once again, things just won’t work out that way…
I actually like this stage of the process. Talking in-depth to five or six students for an hour or so, and then maybe continuing the conversations over coffee, are a great way of getting to know people who up until now have just been faces in the crowd, and with only a few exceptions it’s at this point that they really get turned on to the idea of investigating something in depth. In fact, I enjoy it so much I go way over the allotted (and paid-for) time but as I reason, if I weren’t doing that I’d just be sat at home watching daytime TV, so what the hell? (Of course, I’d rather get paid for the time it takes rather than the nominal time it’s allowed to take, which works out at about 10 minutes per student).
Anyway, I’m searching around for materials and ideas that could help them in either picking a subject (always tricky) or in carrying out their research. We call the dissertation a ‘research project’ and I encourage them to treat it more like a long article than an academic thesis. The last couple of years have produced some excellent results – I must post them as PDFs one day, or get them to.
Anyway, I thought this link might be of interest to anyone involved in this process, or in media production. It’s an idea about using Skype to conduct telephone interviews and record them to disk. Quite a lot of my students use minidiscs or (increasingly) iPods to record interviews (and good old tape recorders are still around) but they require direct, face to face, access. But what if the person you want to interview is in another country, or even in the same one but not exactly within easy travelling distance? This solution might just be worth trying.
Using Skype as a Community Media Production Tool: “Skype was created as a no-cost long-distance phone service. It does that very well. What it also allows you to do, if you’re just a little technically-minded and have a homebrew gene or two, is to record your Skype phone conversation, with the other person’s permission, to an audio file on a second computer. Once you’ve recorded the audio, you can edit out the uhms, ahs and pauses, compress the audio and then place it on the web for public consumption.” Full article