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Wilkes-Barre. Pittsburgh. Philadelphia. Figure 1: Location of Wilkes-Barre. Figure 2: Aerial view of Kirby Park. Figure 3: View of GarageBand 3. Note purple track showing narration, and top track showing images. Developing a Podcast Trail Guide for an Urban Natural Area
Figure 1: Location of Wilkes-Barre
Figure 2: Aerial view of Kirby Park
Figure 3: View of GarageBand 3. Note purple track showing narration, and top track showing images.
Developing a Podcast Trail Guide for an Urban Natural Area
K. Klemow, R. Curtis, A. Velopolcak, H. Washenko, R. Kosik, R. Stetz, and Z. Wilson
Biology Department, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766
- To complete and disseminate podcasts for the Kirby Park Natural Area that were initiated Spring, 2007.
- To generate a survey to assess the effectiveness of the podcasts in contrast to the paper-based trail guide
A Digital Solution
Podcasting technology can overcome problems associated with paper-based trail guides. Podcasts incorporating narration, other sounds (like animal calls) and digital images can be developed to supplement, or even replace, paper-based guides.
Podcasts can be developed using widely available software such as GarageBand 3 for the Macintosh OS. Once created, podcasts can then be made available through an RSS feed or Apple’s iTunes site.
Users can access and download the podcasts to their computers, and ultimately to their mp3 players. They can then listen to the podcasts in the field.
Existing software facilitates podcasting, so that it can be as commonplace as developing PowerPoint presentations. We encourage others to develop podcast trail guides for other areas in Pennsylvania. We would be willing to assist those wishing to do so.
Many museums and other public venues currently provide electronic audiovisual guides to increase accessibility and appeal of their exhibits. Likewise, this project was instituted to overcome problems of the current paper-based trail-guide model, and - more importantly - to eliminate disconnect between the public and the natural world.
Kirby Park Natural Area
The Kirby Park Natural Area (KPNA) is an 80-acre riparian woodland that adjoins the Susquehanna River near downtown Wilkes-Barre. The KPNA has seen increasing use for recreation and nature education in the past fifteen years.
The KPNA is overseen by a Riverfront Parks Committee, which developed a paper-based trail guide in the mid-1990s. The guide offers information about the animals, plants, and natural features in the park, focusing on 16 stations. The guide is out of print, and much of the information is out of date.
To address that problem, faculty and students at Wilkes University initiated a project to create a digital trail guide. A sample podcast was presented by Stetz et al. at the 2007 PAS meeting.
Figure 4: The Kirby podcasts are accessible from http://itunes.wilkes.edu