eLearning Tutorials

April 22, 2008

“Say it” instead of “Type it”: Tutorial to produce audio for online interaction

Filed under: Communication Tools,tutorials — scagnoli @ 5:46 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Feedback is key in a teaching and learning interaction. In fully online courses, it helps to keep alive the flow of communication between the members of the virtual community (Scagnoli & Willging, 2003), and it increases the sense of “presence” of the instructor or classmates in the interaction (Ice et.al, 2007) .

Feedback usually took the form of text or talk, in face to face interaction. Now, with the easy access to more sophisticated and less costly (free!) voice recording applications, audio feedback has become more popular in teaching. Either as MP3 files or in other formats, instructors record their voices and post them on the web, in the Course Management Systems, or in sites such as iTunes, My Podcasts, Del.icio.us, so that they can reach the students with their comments. Some instructors even invite students to do the same, and post comments or their assignments using audio. This task has become more easy to perform due to better access and more flexibility in producing, storing and re-producing audio files. Educational and Social podcasting is another phenomenon that is changing the way that students and faculty interact.

One of the most widely used software applications to record and reproduce audio for the web is the so-called Audacity, a free audio recorder and editor that can be downloaded from the web, and produces immediate results that the users can publish and share.

Audacity can record, edit, reproduce, import and export sound files in different digital formats. This feature makes Audacity a very powerful piece of software.

How do you use Audacity?

How do you make sure that your podcasts reach your students?

There are several ways to publish your mp3 or other audio files to the web. Commercial (for fee or for free ) sites offer podcasting solutions or hosting for MP3 files. Or the files can be stored in your college server and the file can be streamed via a m3u file, or you may have access to iTunes or iTunes University, which will host and reproduce your audio to the class. Even Del.icio.us can be a solution to create a comprehensive list of your podcasts, (they will provide RSS feed for the site!).

How can I use audio files in my teaching?

  • Give short messages to students on the topic of the week. Sometimes it is not the reproduction of the whole lecture, but a short and meaningful phrase or sentence, will become meaningful to the user and will help him understand or enhance his knowledge on a certain subject. Some faculty have found that podcasting is a great way to reach the students in the middle of the week with some information that they may need as they prepare for the next week assignment. Five minutes podcasts have proven to be enough to enhance teacher presence in an online class, or in large classes where the instructor and the student will very unlikely share a one-to-one conversation.
  • Respond to students postings in a forum with audio. Instead of the usual typing a response, “voice” your comments, and let students hear you say your message to them.
  • Provide extra explanations or instructions with audio comments in your CMS or in your website.

If you know about other uses or articles on the “use of audio feedback” in e- and blended-learning, please share those in the comments to this message.

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