| | Technology Resources | Assignment Ideas | | Links | Recommended Reading | Affordances and Constraints

Technology Resources

A number of programs are available to support audio recording and editing; some are free or provide a free trial period.

To use these programs, you can use the built in microphone on your computer, but you can generally improve sound quality with an affordable peripheral mic, such as the
SYBA CL-SM-001Connector Microphone
Logitech USB Desktop Microphone or

*DU Students can check out hand-held digital audio recorders from the Penrose Library circulation desk. These devices are more portable and, thus, better support interviews and field work. Files can be easily transferred to students' computers for editing.

There are also audio/podcasting sites that allow you to record using your phone:
  • Cinch-Blog Talk Radio http://www.blogtalkradio.com
  • TalkShoe allows you to record a podcast through your phone, but it also allows you to have other people call in and it records community calls http://www.talkshoe.com.
  • Gabcast has some interesting features and looks easy to use, but you do have to pay 10 cents a minute to record by phone. VOIP recording is free http://www.gabcast.com.

Assignment Ideas

Audio PSA Sequence - 1122 - Submitted by Jennifer Campbell

This assignment asks students to create a 60-second PSA for a non-profit organization or cause of their choice. We listen to and analyze a variety of PSAs and discuss scripting before students produce their own.

Creating Podcasts with Audacity--Directions to students from David Daniels.


Rhetorical Figures in Sound
A compendium of 200+ brief audio (mp3) clips illustrating 40 different figures of speech. Most of these figures were constructed, identified, and classified by Greek and Roman teachers of rhetoric in the Classical period. For each rhetorical device, definitions and examples, written and audio, are provided.

NPR's //This I Believe// Website
This site includes background information and audio and text versions of many This I Believe essays, as well as resources for educators.

Audio Composing - PSAs
This is a blog entry from the Digital Writing Collaborative that discusses pedagogical and technical considerations for podcast projects.

Recommended Reading

Dangler, Doug, Ben McCorkle, and Time Barrow. Expanding Composition Audiences with Podcasting. < http://www.bgsu.edu/cconline/podcasting/classroom.htm>.
This is an interesting site that includes an overview of podcasting and discusses its potential for composition in the classroom, in writing centers, and in our professional work. The classroom audiences section is most relevant for us; the authors argue that podcasting helps students improve their writing style and consider delivery more as they compose for a broader public audience. A sample assignment and rationale are linked.

Affordances and Constraints

Audio projects allow students to explore the rhetorical impact of sound, such as how tone and musical background influence meaning. They also help students develop their writing style by attending to voice and can help with editing, as students read their work out loud. Audio also allows students to bring other voices directly into their compositions, which is a real asset for documentaries or adding ethos to arguments.

These projects do require hardware and software that may be new to students, which adds learning time and possible technical difficulties to any assignment.
Many students don't listen to much commercial radio or to extended podcasts outside of the classroom. As a result, these genres may not be familiiar to them, and they might not seem as relevant in terms of preparing them for the kinds of projects they are likely to do in the future.

Still, audio assignments can be a useful as stand-alone projects to highlight the rhetorical effects of sound or to promote good presentation and editing practices. Audio exercises are also a useful step on the way to other projects that involve sound, like videos, websites, or installations.