Unit 3: Advanced Production and Blackboard Uses

Objective: Participants will apply their new knowledge by self-producing a test piece of podcast audio via the Mixlr client. They will then review archiving that content to the Blackboard LMS.

  1. Learn additional options available through Audacity.
  2. Consider a variety of ways to use podcast audio in Blackboard.
  3. Things to consider.


Additional Options in Audacity

Audacity has a number of options available to user to increase the quality of their audio. In this portion of the unit, we will consider the most pertinent options for use in our context.


Adjusting Volume: On the left hand side of the audio tracks, there are two sliders. The second skews the audio into one ear or the other to a great extent. As this is likely unnecessary in our context, it is the first we want to consider. The first slider has a minus sign (-) and plus sign (+). This slider allows the user to increase the volume of the audio on playback. If an adjustment is made to this slider, and then the audio is exported, the volume change will persist in the saved audio file.

Magnan17.jpg


Deleting Audio: Deleting any portion of audio is made easy in Audacity. Left click at the point that the portion to be deleted begins. While holding that click, drag to the left or right for the entirety of the audio that should be deleted.

Magnan18.jpg


If the user realizes that more or less audio needs to be cut, hover at the beginning or end of the highlighted section. The cursor will turn into a hand. Clicking and dragging at that point will allow the use to extend or reduce the amount of audio to be deleted. Once the entire area to be deleted is highlighted, simply click delete.

Magnan19.jpg


Importing Audio: A user may want to import previously existing audio into the new file that they are creating. Do so, go to File > Import > Audio. In the dialogue box that follows, locate and select the audio to be imported.

Magnan20.jpg

Magnan21.jpg


If the imported audio is to begin at the end of existing audio, silence need to be generated in the imported audio track up to that point that it is to begin playing. To do this, make sure that the imported audio track is selected, and move the cursor to the beginning of the imported audio. Click Generate > Silence

Magnan23.jpg

Input the amount of time you want the silence to last. In this example, I will create 31.5 seconds of silence so that my imported audio in track two begins playing at the end of my recorded audio in track one. Magnan22.jpg


Ways to Use Podcasting in Blackboard

There are many ways that podcasting could be utilized to the benefit of all parties in a course. Some of these include:

  1. Creating global feedback podcasts. Such podcasts would cover material that is universally important and thus accessible to the class.
  2. Adding additional commentary to supplement conventional lecture material. In addition, audio can be added quickly to clarify content in a way that jumps out to the learner due to the aesthetic nature of the audio player.
  3. Offering verbalized directions in conjunction with long-form, traditional assignment instructions. This helps learners of different types. For those that learn best via discussion-based communication, audio can feel closer to that preference.
  4. Leaving feedback specifically for an individual. Audio can be used to highlight specific portions of traditional feedback or to further instruct on how to improve aspects of assigned tasks.
  5. Audacity can be used to record Skype and similar internet phone calls. Using the software in this way, interviews with relevant guest speakers across great distances can be produced and made available to the learners.

Things to Consider

There are some important things to keep in mind as it relates to the use of audio in the context of a course:

  1. While learners are more accepting of audio over video in terms of time commitment, it is important to err on the side of caution and limit the length of podcasts to between five and ten minutes. Ideally, podcasts will be focused to a specific topic. Once that topic has been covered to completion, the podcast had ended.
  2. While one can record podcasts on virtually any peripheral with a microphone, select a device that produces audio that is clear enough to approach natural speech.
  3. Always listen to a podcast prior to uploading it. Any issues such as long pauses that need to be deleted or soft speech that needs to have an increase in volume must be resolved. Learners will rightfully bring such issues to the attention of the instructor. At such a time, the instructor will have to reproduce and re-upload the audio.
  4. Be clear in the connection of any audio file to other relevant content. Care should be taken in how elements or organized within Blackboard to maximize the likelihood of success for the learners.

Complete the following to complete the course:

  • Reflect on the experiences of this unit and the new skills that have been developed by responding via a podcast. Include at least one piece of imported audio that supports what you feel are the most valuable potentials for podcasts in an educational context.
  • Revise your lesson plan addendum one final time, clarifying any content to benefit learners. In addition, consider the variety of ways in which podcasts can be used, and add a second way in which you plan to implement them.



Thank you for taking time to explore the possibilities that podcasting can afford in adding texture and dynamic communication in the classroom! Good luck with your incorporation of these tools in your future courses!





Return to Mini-course Main Page.