Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

Podcasting with Audacity

June1

Creating all sorts of audio for and with your students has never been easier!  That’s right!  With Audacity, an open source, cross-platform software for recording, editing and mixing sounds, you and your students will be developing meaningful projects related to any topic imaginable in no time!  Not only is this “cool tool” free, but it is also very user-friendly.  Some features include the ability to record live audio, add sound effects, mix sounds together, convert tapes and records into digital recordings and more!

Click here to download your very own version of Audacity.

If you’re looking for the Mac equivalent, Garage Band is a great option—especially if you’re a fan of mobile technologies as iPad and iPhone apps are available as well.

Classroom Connection:

I do not typically use Audacity to create podcasts for my students.  However, I love, love to develop assignments for students so they can demonstrate knowledge and creativity while utilizing a “cool tool”.  For example, student podcasts can come in the form of a lecture, presentation, announcement, audio book and/or any kind of supplemental material facilitating the educational goals of the teacher and students.  Depending on the manner in which the podcast assignment is structured, this type of activity can encompass all four lens of learning.  By nature, the development of a podcast addresses the meaning-centered and language-based components; however, for a podcast to be most effective, it should also include the social and human aspects of learning.  When this is accomplished, I truly believe that podcasts are one of the technology components that enhance the classroom experience while making it a collaborative and dynamic learning environment.

Other benefits for integrating podcasts into the classroom—whether they are teacher created, student generated and/or found on a third-party site (i.e.  iTunes U. or NPR)—include meeting the needs of students with varying learning styles and aptitudes as well as providing the opportunity for students to hone their 21st Century skills—communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.

When I first began using Audacity with students, we simply recorded thoughts about particular topics discussed in class.  Once students grasped the concept of creating a content-rich script, I then taught them how to utilize the more advanced features of the program (i.e adding effects, background music, recording voiceovers, etc.).  This is when “things” got really interesting!  I was amazed to see the complexity and creativity that existed in many of the projects students created.  Listening to their ideas coupled with relevant music and sound effects validated the use of this tool in not only my classroom but in the classrooms of colleagues I assist with technology.

I have created and/or assisted teachers and students with a number of podcasts over the last five years, but to date, my most favorite project was entitled “My City Podcast: Beloved Bellwood” which was developed through the use of Tony Vincent’s Podcasting materials.  We actually submitted our final project, and it was featured on the Learning in Hand web site.

Another one of my favorite Audacity activities involves having my Multimedia I students create original commercials advertising a new radio station.  Even though this project is a lot of fun for students, there is real value to the learning that takes place throughout this project.  A few examples are shown below:

» Radio Commercial By Sarah

» Radio Commercial By Cameron

Additional Audacity projects can be found on my Multimedia I Wikispace.  Just click on the student names located on the navigation bar to check out these samples!

Last year I developed a QR Code project involving the creation of podcasts to summarize books in my classroom library.
Students really enjoyed completing a non-traditional book report—particularly one that could be accessed through the use of mobile technologies. They also thought it was pretty cool that their podcast was hosted online and is available 24/7 with or without the use of the QR Code. (We used Podbean as the online host for this project.)  Listen to a student book report below—or use your favorite mobile device to access the podcast on Podbean via the QR code.

» Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle By Abby

In terms of assessing the use of Audacity with students…  All one has to do is listen to what students have to say in a podcast to determine its effectiveness.  As with anything, proper planning is the key!

So, as you can tell, I am a huge fan of incorporating Audacity into the curriculum—especially when students are given the opportunity to create their own podcast/audio.  In my opinion, it’s one of the most authentic learning experiences teachers can provide for their students!

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Hey, edu-tech gurus!

Looking for some technology integration ideas to enhance your classroom lessons? Then be sure to check out my "Tech Tips" for the latest and greatest Web 2.0 tools, applications and web sites that can be incorporated into activities and/or projects. Although some posts may not be applicable to your content area or grade level, be sure to check back often as I will be varying ideas in order to provide resources across the K-12 curriculum.

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