After months of putting it off, I’ve finally had a play with Audacity. Audacity is a free-to-download programme that enables you to create podcasts for teaching and learning. We’ll be using it as part of a unit of work on editing for radio so a very practical application for my students.
A podcast is an audio file, such as an MP3, published to the web often with an RSS feed. Users can subscribe to shows and download them automatically to listen on a computer or a portable digital audio player. I often download audio from Radio NZ’s MediaWatch programme and use these as starters for discussion on news media issues. This week we listened to analysis of the Scott Guy trial from the July 8 show. I projected a series of questions on the board to spark a discussion on media coverage of the trial, which transgressed into discussion on the tragic flaws of various parties to the trial. And yes, you can blame the journos for that.
The term podcasting is a blend of the words iPod and broadcasting, and simply refers to the process of publishing audio. Podcasting took hold around 2004. Since then of course, technology has developed so we can now create enhanced (MP4) files. These give the producer the ability to include still images and audio, navigation chapters, links to URLs. It is also possible to create and share video as MP4 files.
As a learning tool, podcasting can be used as a publishing/presenting option for students with some pretty obvious applications. I’ve seen it used in Social Sciences where junior students created podcasts on Arranged Marriages, as well as English where students used podcasting to develop their storytelling and scriptwriting skills.
So if you’re feeling brave, here’s what you need to do:
2. Download LAME (this converts WAV to MP3 files so you can publish them online)
3. Listen to the Audacity tutorials
- How to Set up Audacity
- Editing tools in Audacity
- Basic Editing tools
- Adjusting Sound Levels
- Importing and combining audio files
- Saving and exporting as MP3 files
This took me a couple of hours to get my head around (so probably half that for your students). At the end, I had created a 45 second introductory clip to our radio unit for my class Moodle site. (Can’t show you sorry as I’d have to upgrade this site to do so!)
It’s always timely before you let students loose on the internet to remind them of copyright issues around file “sharing”. They’re really good at finding “stuff” online but are they allowed to use it? I recommend as visit to Rod Lucier’s blog which features a video on creative commons as well as the New Zealand creative commons website if you’re unsure about when and how files can be legally used.
There are plenty of places students can source freely available music and images. Here are a few sound related sites to get you started: