How to speed up professors who speak too slowly

Stanford Professor James Sheehan’s History of the International System is a fascinating overview of the history of the 20th century, with a focus on the emergence of our current international system. However, Professor Sheehan’s lecture style is to speak v e r y s l o w l y. This is probably an advantage for undergraduates taking notes, but I found myself growing impatient with his glacial delivery.

Happily, there is a technological solution for iPod users. It involves using software to convert the lecture audio files to “audio book” format. In addition to iTunes, you will need a conversion utility such as the free MP3 to iPod Audio Book Converter. Here are the steps:

  1. Download the lectures to your iTunes software.
  2. Locate the lectures in your iTunes library, and highlight them. Click on the “advanced” menu and choose “convert selection to MP3.”
  3. Locate the new MP3 files in Windows Explorer. ITunes can help. Right-click on the file and choose “show in Windows Explorer.”
  4. Highlight the file names in Windows Explorer, and drag and drop them into your converter utility. Click “convert.” The new files will be in audio book or m4b format.
  5. Drag your new audio book files into iTunes.
  6. When you want to listen to the files, go to the settings menu on your iPod and select “audio books.” Now select “faster.”

For me, the sped up tempo was a bit weird at first. But then I decided I liked it, because it eliminates Sheehan’s long pauses. If you’re impatient like me, you might enjoy it too.

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