Audacity: Create Professional Audio Narrations for all your Learning Resources

It’s usually around this time of the year when most of us free up some time to create or even review our learning resources for the new academic year. I know a lot of staff at Edge Hill are really starting to move away from standard PowerPoint based materials and producing some really engaging resources by embedding multimedia into materials developed on the following:

 

  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • iSpring
  • Microsoft Office Mix
  • Campus Pack (Podcasts)

Maybe some of you are considering trying one of these technologies (though I hope everyone uses PowerPoint as standard). Let’s face it, all we need to do is take a look around our amazing campus and witness the wide adoption of mobile devices over the recent years. With the use of mobile learning in mind, we need to understand that today’s learners will not solely consume content through the PC/Mac desktop environment. At some point, we all have to break out of our usual practices and look for an effective alternative to create rich engaging and mobile friendly materials for our modules and programmes.

So for those who are looking to take that first small step maybe consider introducing audio narration tracks to your current PowerPoint files. Audio narration can be used across all of the technologies I mentioned previously. It’ll offer you the opportunity to embed audio narration tracks to your resources by recording directly into whatever platform you wish (PowerPoint, iSpring, Podcasts etc.). For this post, I’m focussing on a video (see below) which details a specific process developed by Josh Holnagel (Instructional Designer, Techsmith). This process demonstrates how you can edit and polish a pre-recorded audio file within Audacity (an open-source audio editor). Audacity can be found on all PCs on campus and is freely available to download here. http://audacityteam.org/download/

You may want to record your audio narration first with an USB microphone, your smartphone or even your tablet. Take the recorded file and load it straight into Audacity and give this tutorial a go. The workflow shown is a series of small techniques, tips that Josh has developed from his own experience.

PlayerFor those experienced users of Audacity, a detailed table of contents follows below so you can see what‘s covered in this video.

Table of Contents

0:00 Intro
0:50 How to change the Audacity project rate
1:15 How to split a stereo track to mono
1:30 How to find and copy white noise
2:15 How to make a new track
2:25 How to paste white noise end-to-end
3:30 How to use white noise throughout a track
5:22 How to paste white noise over existing audio
6:40 How to eliminate breaths and mouth clicks
8:53 How to quiet noises in between words
10:24 How to use the Amplify effect in Audacity
10:46 How to repeat an effect
11:27 How to adjust the volume of words or phrases
13:13 How to reduce or remove white noise
14:47 How to export audio from Audacity
15:10 Outro

Below are some great guides and links on some of the technologies you can insert audio narrations into. Why not have a glance at any that appeal to you, feel free to contact your faculty LTDO if you need to know more!

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Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer

 

 

Campus Pack: An Introduction to Wikis

Campus Pack is a new addition to Learning Edge and one of the tools that comes with it is a Wiki tool. Wikis were originally created as a very simple way to put information online, that all users could edit. They weren’t designed to look pretty, just to be quick and easy to use.

Wikis have developed over time and now it can be hard to see the difference between a content management system and a wiki. Generally though Wikis contain things like widely editable pages, a page history, records of discussions about the page’s development, and the ability to subscribe to notifications of changes to the page. Duffy and Bruns (2008) provide a good quick overview of wikis and their uses in ‘The use of blogs, wikis and RSS in education: A conversation of possibilities‘.

As some interesting examples of non-education specific uses have a look at:

  • Wikipatterns – A collaboratively updated book about different ways in which wikis can be used
  • Pulp Bard – Colaborative project to translate the Pulp Fiction film script into a Shakespearean equivalent
  • Wikipedia (English Version) – The largest wiki
  • Wikia – A site hosting 1000s of wikis where the communities have collected information about things like travel, games and films.

Many educators have used in Wikis in Higher Education. Some uses we are aware of at Edge Hill include:

Other uses elsewhere in Higher Education include:

Potential benefits reported have included:

  • Wikis “supporting social-constructivist models of pedagogy” (Feng Su and Chris Beaumont, 2010)
  • Wikis “invite collaboration and tolerate dissension, moving toward consensus and defined disagreement” (Cummings and Barton, 2008)
  • Students can benefit from quick peer feedback when there is a vibrant community. (Feng Su and Chris Beaumont, 2010)
  • Wikis can be used to promote integration of learning – i.e. “the ability to connect, apply, and/or synthesize information, knowledge and skills across varied contexts” (Barber, 2012)

Potential issues to be aware of, include those related to orientation and usability of the technology.

  • As with other collaborative online tools you might find that “inadequate socialisation at the start of the collaborative activity was a key obstacle in conducting group projects or activities at a distance” (Dr Shailey Minocha)
  • “When participants fail to form functional groups in their wikis, their ability to engage with the task and to form a community of enquiry… is impaired.” (Benson, et al, 2012)
  • Finding the right wiki tool for your particular use. “usability is the key attribute for a positive user experience” (Shailey Minocha and Peter G. Thomas, 2007)

I’ve started making notes around a few articles and my list might help you get started exploring the literature.

Finally, the following videos have been created to show how certain simple things can be done using Campus Pack wikis.

Picture of the author

Peter Beaumont
Learning Technologist

Podcasting with Campus Pack

It is now possible to create podcasts within Learning Edge using the Campus Pack podcast tool.

So exactly what is a podcast?

A podcast is a type of digital media consisting of an episodic series of files (either audio or video) subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication (RSS Feeds)

Podcasting lets you automatically receive the latest episode of your chosen programme as soon as it’s available. With podcasts you can subscribe to RSS feeds allowing the files come to you rather than searching for the files

How can it be used in education?

  • To record lectures for revision purposes, special events, or flexible delivery to those at a distance
  • To provide a recap or précis of the week’s activities
  • Interviews with subject specialists
  • Assisting those with different learning styles
  • Listening/pronunciation practice for certain discipline e.g. language learning, phonetics
  • Providing feedback to groups on assessment
  • Student activities

Creating podcasts using Campus Pack

Podcasting: Skills and Techniques

Want to findout more about the podcasting tool?  Contact the Learning Technology Development Team on: 01695 650 754 (or internal 7754)

Irfan Mulla

Learning Technologist

Campus Pack Awareness Sessions: more than just an ePortfolio

Over the past few months we have been evaluating Campus Pack: a powerful ‘building block’ to further extend the potential of Learning Edge. It offers all students a personal area where they can create blogs, wikis, journals and podcasts, and allows us to build templates for things like CVs, ePortfolios, and PDP.

As students own the content within their environments, they have full control over who can view and edit – they can choose to share elements with colleagues across the University, as well as externals such as mentors in work placements and even potential employers. Viewers/collaborators then have the ability Rating tool in Campus Pack to leave comments, discuss and ‘rate’ items; offering exciting opportunities for ongoing feedback and dialogue.

Other interesting features include the capability for tutors to embed Campus Pack content directly within their courses, and where necessary, link these to the Grade Centre for assessment. There is also the potential for mobile access to Campus Pack, which will add further flexibility to learners.

We are holding a number of awareness-raising sessions over the coming weeks – it is envisaged that the range of options through Campus Pack will be of interest to colleagues across the University, with direct benefits to teaching and learning, as well other areas such as Careers and Learning Services.

These sessions provide opportunity for staff across the University to give us direct feedback, and influence any decision regarding the purchase of a license. Please get involved, it would be great to see and hear from as many staff as possible.

Tuesday 24th May – 12:00 – 1:00 (SOLSTICE Green Room)

Thursday 26th May – 12:00 – 1:00 (H203)

Wednesday  1st June – 1:00 – 2:00 (SOLSTICE Red Room)

Sign up for one of the sessions here – http://campuspack.eventbrite.com/

 

If you are interested in Campus Pack and want to learn more about mobile access, contact Peter Reed (reedp@edgehill.ac.uk, #7756) for details about an upcoming webinar on Tuesday 24th May