“I’m putting my whole course online next semester with Audacity,” she said.

recording_wIt seemed like almost every student on the UF campus had an mp3 player and was listening as they walked across campus or waited for class to start. So I decided that I wanted to learn how to create audio files so I could start a podcast for one of my courses, Writing for Mass Communication.

Technology colleague Judy Robinson was going to be teaching a class for faculty on how to use Audacity, so I signed up. The advantages of using Audacity are that it is free and can be used on Mac and Windows.

Judy was teaching the course in UF’s Center for Instructional Technology and Training. Faculty from around the campus take technology courses at the CITT. One of the interesting aspects of taking courses there is to hear how other faculty are using technology in their teaching.

The course was underway, and we were trying out different aspects of the software, such as recording our own voice. The screen capture (to the right) shows what you see as you record audio, with the blue band being the audio and the red line advancing as the audio is recorded. Just by looking at the blue sound file after you have recorded, you can tell when your sound was too loud or might have to be boosted because the sound is too low. You also can see where you have pauses or silences and can determine if those need to be edited out or should remain.

We had stopped recording so that Judy could explain some other features of the software. As Judy asked us about our experience so far in using Audacity, the faculty member sitting in front of me said that she had decided to record her entire course in Audacity. She was going to do that over the summer and have the course online by next fall.

As she spoke with enthusiasm about how audio would add to her course and how easy this all was, I noticed that her audio was still recording. The blue band zoomed across her computer screen without her noticing.

When someone else joined in the discussion and attention shifted to that person, I quietly said to the woman in front of me, “You’re still recording.”

“I am?” she said with surprise. She looked at her screen — with the blue band still moving on, frame by frame. Then she turned to me and asked, “How do you know that I’m recording?”

“Because I can see the audio file being recorded. That moving blue line.”

“Oh,” she said and clicked the button to stop the recording.

I did go on to create a podcast for my class (check iTunes for Tips for Media Writers) but have become a podfader. Creating audio files and then uploading them to a server is time taking. But I did learn the skills involved and can appreciate what it takes to create audio files.

I wonder about that other faculty member — the one who was going to have her entire course online as audio within just one semester.

Wanting to use technology to change, improve and expand a course is a worthy ambition for a faculty member. But it’s important to take reasonable and realistic steps.


  1. Julie,
    Over the past few years as podcasting lectures or other class material has become more and more mainstream, the thing I’ve wondered is: why?

    I see the good and bad, so I wonder do the benefits merely outweigh the consequences? Is that enough, or should we expect more out of such a resource?

    So this other teacher wants to put an entire course online. (This reminds me of courses that have been recorded at MIT for open access to everyone on the ‘net.) But I see students using this as an excuse to miss class. What is the student missing out by sleeping in and listening to the file on their time? Anything? Will students just stroll in to take quizzes and tests (assuming those are still done in class, which they aren’t in some cases)? If the content is the same, and the only difference is less people showing up, that hurts everyone–even the ones who do come to class–because of the potential for more people to ask questions or participate in a discussion.

    Certainly a student legitimately missing a class session (or more) and being able to catch up aurally is a good reason to do this. Though, between the text and classmates’ notes has this been a big problem in education all these years?

    I’m reminded of a line by Michael Crichton in Jurassic Park, which I’ll paraphrase:

    Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should. – Ian Malcolm (played by Jeff Goldblum)


  2. Michael,
    You raise many of the issues that faculty here are raising. Many are concerned that providing materials so students don’t “have” to attend class because of the flu situation can encourage students to think they don’t “need” to attend class.



  3. I don’t know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read….


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