Monday, 23 July 2012

30 days of Web Tools #11: Use Audacity for creating MP3s and podcasts


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Audacity is not really a webtool as such but it is a free tool that can be downloaded from the web. It is one of those tools that you simply cannot be without as a teacher! To put it in a nutshell, Audacity is a simple sound editing programme that is used to create MP3s. 

What can Audacity be used for?
 

Audacity can be used across platforms from any operating system which is a big plus. It can be used to record live audio and even edit various sound files. It can export files as MP3s but for this purpose you have to also download LAME along with it. Directions for doing this can be found here

What do you need to be able to use Audacity?

1. The programme should be downloaded from http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/
2. Download LAME so that Audacity can be exported as a MP3 (see below)
3. A microphone.
4. A computer

How to download LAME to use with Audacity

I’ll just copy and paste the directions for Windows since that is what I am using.
Go to the LAME download page.

  1. Under "For Audacity on Windows", left-click the link "Lame v3.99.3 for Windows.exe" and save the file anywhere on your computer. Do not right-click the link to the .exe file.
  2. Double-click "Lame v3.99.3 for Windows.exe" to launch it (you can safely ignore any warnings that the "publisher could not be verified").
  3. Follow the "Setup" instructions to install LAME for Audacity. Do not change the offered destination location of "C:\Program Files\Lame for Audacity".
  4. The first time you use the "Export as MP3" command, Audacity will ask for the location of "lame_enc.dll". Navigate to "C:\Program Files\Lame for Audacity", select "lame_enc.dll", then click "Open" and "OK".
  5. If you prefer the Zip option for the LAME download, save the zip file to anywhere on your computer, extract "lame_enc.dll" to any location, then show Audacity where to find it as in Step 5 above.
  6. In case of difficulty, please view our more detailed instructions on the Audacity Wiki.
Using Audacity for the first time

1. Once Audacity is downloaded and Lame is downloaded and installed it is A for Away! The toolbar can look rather daunting at first, but once you realise that you only need to know a few of the icons and what they do it suddenly becomes a whole lot easier.  

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2. Just make sure Audacity has automatically picked up your speakers and microphone. 

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3. To start recording click on the big red microphone circle. It will start recording immediately so start speaking into your microsphone right away. Your voice will appear as a long jagged line with rises every now and again like this:

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4. When you are finished recording press the yellow square. If you want to test out the recording you have just made, press the green triangle.

How to save your file

You can just save the project at this stage if you wish by clicking on Save project as

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Otherwise you can do what I always do and that is export the file as an MP3. 

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It will then save as an MP3 and you can save this file wherever you wish on your computer. That is how easy it is to record using Audacity. Of course there are a lot more complicated things you can do with audacity but for a teacher, this is enough to go by.Here is a YouTube tutorial that can take you though those steps again.


How can Audacity be used in the classroom?
 These are some of the ways I have used Audacity:
1. You could record your students speaking and then upload to Voki to create speaking Avatars. this is useful on a bog to greet visitors. 

2. You can create podcasts of book reviews, poetry readings, book reading, orals etc. You can document reading through the year to note students’ progress. 

3. You can create sound files to go with  a PowerPoint presentation or a Windows Movie Maker Movie or Photostory.

Here is a Slideshare showing how Audacity and Photostory 3 can be used together.



4. You can upload these to an online recording service such as Vocaroo.com so that they can be embedded in a blog or wiki. Notice the upload button just under the little girl on the right in the image below. 

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5. You can record messages and email them to penfriends as MP3 files.

6. You can record sound to add to Voicethreads.

So, give Audacity a try! You won’t regret it.

Further reading 

1. 10 great ways to use Audacity with your students

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Fiona - this came as a "just in time" post for me. I can now refer my OGCE students straight here so they can make podcasts for their Teaching Experience to play on the Lifeplayer.
    Deb Avery

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