Audio Capture

There is a growing interest in technologies for “capturing” audio and to a lesser extent video.  “Capture” here refers to the digital recording of audio and/or video using digital recording devices.  Below are some examples of course sites that contain audio recorded by faculty and/or students.

International Political Economy Fall 09 Lecture Podcast

Prof. James Morrison, the instructor of this course recorded his lectures and uploaded them to his WordPress blog.  He also registered the RSS feed for the audio files on his course blog with the iTunes Podcast Directory.  Finally, his lecture audio files have been added to the Middlebury presence on iTunes U.  Contact Prof. Morrison directly for more information.

Media Technology and Cultural Change

Prof. Jason Mittell (Film & Media Culture) regularly teaches a course on media technology and cultural change and requires his students to produce a podcast about digital audio.  As part of the class, he teaches them how to edit audio files and how to upload them to the course blog

French Phonetics > Evaluation Exercises

The French Phonetics program required students to submit weekly audio recording assignments that the instructor then provided detailed feedback about via the course website.   Students downloaded the assignment description from the course site and then uploaded their recordings to Segue as discussion post attachments.

Segue v1 allowed discussion post access to be restricted to the instructor and the student who created the post allowing for a private area for feedback.  Segue v2 does not have such a feature so students could listen to each others’ recordings and any feedback about those recordings the instructor made.  In some cases this was fine, in other instances the instructor would have preferred having the option to limit access.

Basic Chinese » Weekly Recording Assignments

First year students in the Chinese School have also been required to submit audio recordings as part of their assigned work in the same way as the French Phonetics program described above.   Students in this program of study uploaded their files to a section of the course site reserved for the group they were part of.

Intermediate Mandarin Chinese (中级汉语) S’08 » 播客 Podcast

The intermediate Chinese program of study required students to produce podcasts every week.  Students worked in groups to produce these podcasts and upload them to the course site.   Students were also expected to comment on each others’ podcasts.

The Wilson Media Lab Digital Media Tutors provided support for groups of students teaching students how to edit audio files.  The instructor of the course provided documentation on how to upload to the site.

Spanish School

Some programs of study in the Spanish School have required students to go to places on campus and describe them in Spanish.  This same program also required students to interview Spanish faculty.

Writing Program

Some faculty in the writing program has required their students to record themselves reading pieces they have written and upload these to course site


Audio captured for curricular use has been recorded using a variety of tools including:  iPods with iTalk Voice Recorders, digital voice recorders, USB microphones and headsets with boom mics attached.  Most of this capture material is then uploaded to sites created in Segue or WordPress. Some files were created and uploaded to the site by the instructor of the courses.  Other files were uploaded by students as attachments to discussion posts in response to assignments.

Generally most users find a capture tool that meets their needs.  Most users then open their media file of captured material in either iTunes or an audio editing application such as Audacity.  These tools are then used to edit the files and add metadata.  Media files submitted by students as assignments generally are labeled with their name and class or the name of the assignment.

Digital voice recorders seem to work well for mobile capture.  Some users also check out iPods and/or iTalk voice recorders for mobile capture.  Other use USB mics.  While many users have managed to figure out how to record audio with a mic or voice recorder, edit that audio in an audio editing application and then upload it to the web, this is complex and time-consuming process.

Web-based Capture

There is a great need to be able to simply record audio from a web site.  This would enable students to:

  1. Listen to an audio recording
  2. Record themselves repeating what they heard.
  3. Compare what they heard to their recording of themselves

This listen, repeat and compare exercises is one of the most common ways to master the pronunciation of the words and phrases of a language being studied.

Web-based audio recording would also make it possible to provide online oral examinations, a technology that many in the Language Schools and depts have been asking for for years.  The technologies needed for this type of usage are a bit more involved than the listen, record and compare exercise described above.  In addition to being able to record audio, tools and services are needed to also save the resultant audio file to a server, along with information about the creator of that audio recording,  the context where that recording was initiated and the time the recording was started and completed.

Ideally web-based audio recording would be implemented as a web service which other web applications such as WordPress, Segue, Moodle and Drupal could use via plugins and templates.  This would enable an audio recording UI to be inserted in various locations on a site making possible quick audio blog posts and even audio comments.  This sort of functionality would be useful beyond just language courses.