Which microphone does Sal Kahn use?

To be honest I have no idea… However, I’ve found one that I think absolutely rocks. Here it is above. It’s the Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – Silver.

This mic seems to work well with both my Macbook and my iPad. I’ve used it to record Sal Khan style YouTube clips for my education and training business. I’ve also used it with my iPad for music, although I think it really needs a powered USB hub to work more effectively with the iPad.

The sound quality is excellent. I’m convinced my voice sounds better through the Yeti than it does in real life. I bought it though the Apple Store but the link in the image above will take you to Amazon. I’m not sure which is the cheapest option at the moment but I’ve had no regrets and I’m hoping to really put it to good use next year as I get large chunks of my training course set up online.

Here’s my set up.

Yeti mic

The things we carry: What’s in the ultimate travelling educator’s technology gadget bag?

I travel around a lot with my work. I teach a level 5 qualification called the National Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education, otherwise known as the NCALNE. There are two versions. The one that we teach is for trades and vocational tutors and we often deliver this training at our clients’ sites or in conference facilities.

So… this means that I’m often on the move. And over the last couple of years I’ve really tried to assemble the ultimate educator’s gadget bag. This is just the tech gear. I have other suitcases with training resources in them.

Here’s my favourite bag. It’s a Waterfield Cargo. I love it. It’s showing a bit of wear on the outside now but it’s still just as sturdy as the day it arrived.

Waterfield Cargo Gadget Bag

Here’s what I currently lug around inside my bag. The most important kit is probably my MacBook air, power cables, and VGA adapter that allows me to plug into a data projector. The Mac has a Thunderbird output for video but every single conference venue or classroom I’ve taught in so far has had a VGA projector. I’m paranoid about losing it so I carry two.

I’m a sucker for great design so I ended up buying some Waterfield sleeves and bags to keep the Mac, the iPad, and the cables all safe and sound. There’s another picture further down.


Here’s everything starting top left:

  1. 13″ Apple MacBook Air with Waterfield SleeveCase. It’s taken me a while to adjust to the Mac OS as I switched from Windows at the start of this year. I’m starting to feel bilingual now.
  2. iPad 2 with Smart Cover and related Waterfield SleeveCase. I thought I’d use this more than I actually have. Great for reading Kindle books when flying or playing games though.
  3. Waterfield Cableguy case to keep the power cables and other bits and pieces tidy. Great idea.
  4. Jambox by Jawbone. It’s in a black case underneath the MacBook in the photo so it’s hard to see but the little Jambox is a great companion for hotel rooms and some smaller teaching venues where I need audio. It’s bluetooth and has issues remembering whether it’s already been paired or but I still really like it.
  5. The little green pencil case as a few emergency supplies in it like Panadol, vitamins, decongestants for when the travelling starts to take its toll.
  6. Bose noise cancelling headphones. These are my latest acquisition. I got sold on these when I was in one of those horribly noisy pencil planes. A friend of mine lent me his for a couple of minutes and that was enough. Awesome.
  7. USB drives. Despite the fact that I use Dropbox for everything these days I still find it hand to have a few flash drives. You can see three of them in the picture next to the headphones as well as a pen and some business cards.
  8. Logitech wireless presenter. I used to have a Microsoft wireless mouse that had a slide clicker on underneath. However, someone pinched it. But my new Logitech clicker is awesome. It turns off automatically and works with Powerpoint as well as Keynote. This little gadget means I’m not shackled to my laptop when giving a presentation or teaching. I love being able to stand anywhere in a room and control my slides.
  9. Other cables and things. You can see my spare AAA batteries for the slide clicker, spare VGA adapter for the Mac, Apple USB phone charger adapter, grey pouch with lens cleaning fluid, a small 3.5mm audio cable, Apple ear buds, and spare USB to iPhone cable.

Here’s a close up of the sleeves and cases that I use. These days I find I’m leaving the iPad behind to cut down on weight, or I just stuff it into the top of the Mac sleeve. If I leave the iPad behind I can stuff a change of clothes in the Cargo bag as well.

What next? I’m pretty content with my set up. I do have a portable data projector that I take with me sometimes, but I don’t like to fly with it. The gear above is my mobile office and mobile teaching platform.

Can you think of anything else I need? What things do you carry in your gadget bag? Let me know in the comments.

Now playing: My very own Salman Khan Style video tutorials

Well it’s taken me all day to get there, but I’ve managed to master what I think is the basics of being able to produce my own Khan Academy style video tutorials. Actually, they’re not exactly tutorials yet, that part will come later. They’re just quick discussions with me scribbling in the background.

Here’s Sal Khan. He’s my hero as he’s obviously working from home in his pajamas

Currently, I’m working on a Fast Track version of the qualification that I teach. This is called the NCALNE (Voc) which is the short form for the National Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace). It’s not the world’s longest name for a qualification or even the worst, but it does come close.

Luckily, despite the name and acronym it’s a great qualification and it’s necessary to tutors and trainers in New Zealand to gain this qualification to prove that they have what I’ve started to promote as:

  • The baseline knowledge for embedding literacy and numeracy into trades and vocational training.

It’s pretty heady stuff I realize. What I wanted to write about was my process for doing the Khan Academy style videos. First of all, after some pondering I realized that I needed to get some very specific tools to do this kind of work. Here’s what I needed and subsequently bought over the last few months.

  1. Yeti Blue USB mic.This mic is the bomb. It looks like an old school radio mic, has multiple condenser patterns that you can select, runs off USB power and sounds great. Better still, I’m sure it makes my voice sound better than it actually is. I don’t have Sal’s deep mid-western accent going on so I need all the help I can get.

    Yeti Blue USB Mic

  2. Intuos 5 tablet (medium) and stylus.I thought about this for a long time. I’m a big iPad fan and I really did look for ways of making this whole deal work via my iPad. Turns out there are some work arounds, but not with the level of control and flexibility that I’ve got now. The biggest thing that stops me using my iPad here is screen capture software which I’ll talk about next. However, the Intuos tablet is very cool. It’s been another learning curve but I’m starting to see the benefits. I was going to go with one of the cheaper Wacom Bamboo tablets, but I got talked up to the Intuos by my designer who uses one extensively. The thing about the tablets is that the active area on the tablet is much smaller than the actual surface… so something to bear in mind. Probably, go for the largest size you can afford.

    Intuos 5 medium

  3. Corel Painter Sketch Pad. I’m still a bit indifferent about the software I’m using. The Intuos tablet came bundled with Corel Painter Sketch and Autodesk on a CD Rom. To be honest, I had enormous difficulty getting started with it. For one thing, my Macbook doesn’t have a CD drive. But the software just wouldn’t work and then finally it did. I can’t explain it. The Autodesk software wouldn’t open at all, so I can’t comment on it. I might still try it but I guess I’ll have to purchase it online. Much nicer if I had a download key rather than a stupid CD.
  4. Camtasia 2 screen capture software for Mac. I probably should have said above that I recently switched to Mac after using windows PCs since about 1990. There are various software companies selling screen capture software and I went with Camtasia because I read that this is what Sal Kahn uses. Although, he does use the PC version. You need the screen capture software to video record what you do and say while you’re drawing using the drawing programme. Pays to be ambidextrous I guess.

The other thing that I did is I created a generic background slide to draw on. I did this using Apple Keynote. My recordings today relate to the learning outcomes that candidates are assessed against when they submit evidence for the qualification. I wanted to have a short video with me talking about some of the main things they needed to supply. I think I’ve achieved it. However:

  1. Recording my voice makes me feel incredibly self conscious. But at least I’m not recording my face, although I might have to cross that bridge too.
  2. I’m not an artist so I constantly feel retarded when it comes to drawing anything on screen. Even holding the stylus makes me feel retarded.
  3. I’m trying to “shoot from the hip” Salman Kahn style, but I keep making mistakes. I’ll redo the video once for each section, but after that I’m just leaving the mistakes in. At this stage I don’t care. I’m conscious I just need to get something up and running.
  4. I’ve been procrastinating about doing this for months. It’s good to get started. But would you believe it…? I set everything up this morning, had coffee standing by and everything in order and then… The computer crashed, the printer wouldn’t print, and the internet keep going on and off so I couldn’t connect. Then when I finally did finish the first one (which is only 3 mins long) it took so long to render and upload to youtube that I thought I’d broken it. I didn’t manage to spill the coffee. That’s how I know that God was watching over me in spite of the gremlins in the machines.

    This was my set up this morning. Before every piece of hardware, software, and the internet failed

  5. I’m feeling a bit swamped with the multiple learning curves I’m experiencing. New computer (Mac), new software application (Camtasia 2) for new processes (video capture and audio recording, new hardware (Intuos tablet), to name a few.

I’m also still coming to grips with how to do the authoring using www.pathwright.com – another new learning curve. With the videos though it’s pretty straightforward. Basically, I export the video from Camtasia 2 directly to YouTube, then copy the HTML code from YouTube and paste it into the correct box in one of the learning steps in the Pathwright course builder.

It won’t make much sense if you’re not familiar with the training I do, but here’s today’s efforts pasted in below for any one who’s interested in it as an example. It’s not exactly world class just yet, but it’s a major milestone in terms of getting our course content online. Just click the blue hyperlinks below.

Section 1 – Section 2 – Section 3 – Section 4  – Section 5  – Section 6  – Section 7