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Tech in the Classroom: Podcasting With Audacity

 

What is it?   Audacity is a free audio editor that can be used to create podcasts. It can be downloaded at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/, and there are versions for both Mac and PC.

How does it work?  Audacity lets you record audio through either a built-in microphone or an external one. It can even work with a full mixing board and multiple sources of audio. The program will record everything from a single person speaking to a multiple-microphone podcast. It can also be used (by experienced users) to edit audio and layer tracks together.

How hard is it to use?  If you plan to use Audacity for simple podcasts, it is simply a matter of pressing the record button. Of course, it’s always a good idea to do a test recording to check audio levels first, and once you have a level that sounds right, it's important to remember to stay at roughly the same distance from the microphone. It's even easy to do some basic editing – like cutting out long pauses – as these appear as flat “waves” on the visible representation of the audio track.

How well does it work?  Audacity works very well as a basic audio recording and editing system. The only “trick” required is that you must download a “plug-in” in order to export files as MP3 files, which is what most people want for podcasts. The program does tell you which plug-in to get the first time you attempt to export an MP3, and installation is very simple.

How do I use it in the classroom?  Audacity is an easy tool that any teacher can use to make podcasts. You can use it to record classroom events or to communicate with your students and parents. Because the software is simple and free, it would also be a useful tool for students to use for their projects.

Tech in the Classroom is a recurring feature that examines widely available technology, software and gadgets and how they might be used in a school setting. Explore the Tech in the Classroom archive.

 

Article by Daniel B. Kline, EducationWorld Contributing Editor
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