Free Tools Challenge #19: Audacity – Exploring the Power of Voice

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This is the 19th post in the “30 days to using the best of the web’s free tools for educators” series. Be sure to subscribe to the Teacher Challenge blog by RSS, like us on facebook, and follow us on twitter to keep up with future challenge posts as they are published.

I think one of the most powerful components of multimedia writing is the capability of adding human voice.  I also believe that providing students with opportunities to build their speaking skills and confidence should be an essential part of the curriculum.

Objectives:

  1. Why learn/use Audacity?
  2. Getting started with Audacity
  3. Combining the power of the human voice with blogging
  4. Stepping up to the Challenge
  5. Adding voice recorders to the Audacity mix

Overview:

For a number of reasons, the FREE, cross-platform tool Audacity has become one of my favorites for helping students become more comfortable with their speaking skills. From a basic activity such as recording students’ reading fluencies to a  more sophisticated project such as Rob Rozema’s growing collection of student-created YA Casts, Audacity  offers many possibilities for students to improve speaking as well as listening skills.

Getting Started:

Audacity is also pretty simple to learn. Thanks to the large community of Audacity fans, great tutorials are only a click away:

The appeal of Audacity to students is that they can edit all or just parts of a recording. Teresa Cheung’s 4th graders, for instance, have delved into Audacity to edit their Stories from Heart audio interviews. Once students see how easy it is to zoom in and delete an “er” or “um,” or shorten a pause, or amplify a section that’s too low, or remove background noise, etc., they become active sound editors.

Challenge:

To me, Audacity is all about the power of the human voice – and the ability to easily edit that voice. Combine Audacity with blogging and you can catapult student voices out to the world. So here comes your challenge:

Extending the Audacity:

A great tool for extending the teaching and learning possibilities of Audacity even further is a voice recorder.  For Teresa Cheung’s students, for instance, if family or community members cannot come to the school for an Audacity interview, Teresa lets the students checkout a voice recorder.  I’m very impressed with the high quality of the Olympus DM-520 voice recorder – very good sound quality; very portable.

  • Here’s a video tutorial for the Olympus DM-520 model.
  • If you’re a PC user, you’ll want to download Switch – MP3 converter to use with Olympus voice recorder. Be sure to download the free version.

About the Author:

Gail Desler is a teacher in a large public school district in northern California.  In her current position, she provides technology support to teachers, students, and staff.

Gail has been a long-time user and fan of blogging in general and Edublogs in particular. Her Blogwalker blog just celebrated its 5th birthday. Through Blogwalker, she continues to explore a question posed by the National Writing Project: what does it mean to be teaching, writing, and learning in a digital age?

You can follow Gail on Twitter @GailDesler.

8 thoughts on “Free Tools Challenge #19: Audacity – Exploring the Power of Voice

  1. Pingback: 66 EdTech Resources You May Have Missed–Treasure Chest May 1, 2011 — Tech the Plunge

  2. Although Audacity is a tool I would love to use, I can’t seem to get through the tutorials. When I try to set up Audacity, I am stumped by step 2 when I open the Preferences menu: my window appears totally different than in the Wikispaces tutorial. When I jump into Mindy Macadams or Russel Stannard’s tutorials, again, I am stymied by the amount of new language and have no idea what to do or where to go.

    Is there a walk-through that is geared more towards beginners who have no idea what a WAV is? This was to be my induction into audio files (BTW, I am auditorily challenged, being highly kinesthetic and this was supposed to induct me into the ‘realm’ of podcasting. However, I am lost and at a loss for words.)

    Seeking guidance and hoping to find it in the easiest step-by-step available….I know I can do this…eventually, Ellen

    • Hi Ellen,

      Whenever I’m stumped by software my first port of call is Youtube. Try searching for something like ‘audacity podcasting tutorials’.

      Hope this helps

      Adrian

      • Thanks Adrian, I will give it a try…this weekend. Today is our first day back after two weeks off, so my ‘concentrancia’ is towards my students. So far on Youtube I’ve seen Lee Lefebre’s, but that is very basic. Thanks again.

  3. Audacity is a great tool for teachers to reach students who learn better by hearing, by visually challenged students, by students who have reading challenges. Record yourself reading chapters of your classbooks. Save them to MP3 format when you are finished with each chapter. (Download the Lame encoder – its link is on the Audacity Download page – so you can create MP3 format files). Then students can use earphones or headphones to listen to the lessons, and even download them to their MP3 players!

  4. Another great use for Audacity is to attach sound files to Interactive WhiteBoard files. I used Audacity to create a Sound Periodic Table, which pronounces the name of the element when students click on it.

  5. Pingback: Audacity – creating and editing audio recordings in the classroom « ICT for Teaching & Learning in Falkirk Primary Schools

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