High Tech Tools: Sounds
From bird calls and special effects to music and spoken word, there are endless ways to incorporate sound into libraries and learning.
Sounds are a simple way to add excitement to learning. You can record your own sounds or use computer-generated voices and music. Many easy-to-use software packages and online tools make audio an easy addition to the learning environment.
On the right, you'll see an example using the Voki website tools. Voki is great because you can record your voice. Or, you can type your words and have the computer read it aloud in the voice of your choice. You also get to create your own avatar. These short audios can then be embedded in any web page including blogs.
Get a Voki now!
- Adobe: Audition (commercial) - integrated audio recording, mixing, editing, and mastering
- Apple: Garageband (commercial, Mac)
- Audacity - free, open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds
- Online MP3 Cutter - this great online tool let's you edit an MP3. It's great when you only want a small clip from a longer audio.
- Spoken Text - converts text to speech.
- Vocaroo - record and send your voice (example on right).
- Voki - create an avatar, add your audio or voice (example above right).
- VozMe - text that will be read aloud.
- Yodio - add voice to photos.
Audio Sharing Websites
There are a growing number of websites that specialize in storing and sharing audio files. Some are free and others are premium services. Most of these websites allow you to upload files, then embed them in your blog or other locations.
- AudioFarm (free, online sharing service)
- Podbean (free or subscription, online podcast hosting service)
- Soundboard (free or subscription, online sharing service)
Sources of Open Use Sounds
You don't need to create all the sounds and music elements yourself. There are online resources that allow users to freely use materials.
If you have funding, I'd suggest getting a subscription to Soundzabound. It's great, royalty free music for young people to use into their projects.
You can also find sources of free and open source materials. However be careful to read the guidelines to determine whether you are free to redistribute what you create. You can do a search of Creative Commons for many more resources.
- Freesound Project - many free resources
- Free Sound Effects
- Jamendo - free, legal, unlimited music
- Music Alley
- Musopen - open source music
- National Education Network - available to use by still copyrighted
- Nature Sounds - short versions for free
- Open Source Audio
- Partners in Rhyme
- Playlist - social music experiment
- Podsafe Audio
- Partners in Rhyme - free MIDI files
- Public Domain 4 U
- Royalty Free Music
- Sound Jay
- Sound Transit - sounds from around the world
- Directories of Open Source Music and Sound Effects
You don't need much to technology to get started producing your own sounds.
Option 1. Use pre-recorded sounds. For instance, you can use online recordings such as The Declaration of Independence MP3.
Option 2. Use the microphone built into your computer or add an inexpensive portable microphone that can be plugged into the microphone port on your computer. Locate existing software that has a record option. For example, you can record sounds inside Microsoft PowerPoint, Kidspiration or Inspiration, and KidPix. There's no need to edit, simply delete unwanted sound files.
Option 3. Use free or inexpensive sound editing software such as Audacity or Apple's Garageband. These tools allow you to record and edit audio file, add music, rearrange segments and product high-quality programs. You might also want to buy a quality external microphone for higher quality and recording situations such as singers and interviews.
Option 4. Add additional elements such as audio mixing software, high-quality microphones, and external mixers. Tools such as Mixere allow you to mix audio clips and adjust sound levels. On the high end, you can add external mixers and recording devices.
You don't need a fancy sound studio to produce high quality sound. In most cases you can simply sing or talk directly into your computer. However if you're working in a classroom setting, it's nice to have a small, quiet area set aside for production. An old study carrel, a small room divider, or a blanket all work fine. Although they may not help with the sound, they'll make the actor feel more comfortable.
Build a Foley stage.
- Use stuff from the workshop
- Stand alone - Audacity, Music (allow editing)
- Infused - Microsoft tools
- Podcasting Software - specifically to particular application
- Activity Ideas
- Move the sound to the monkey
- Make the sound of a creaking door and use it to tell part of a story
- Drag the transportation sounds to the sound of the transporation
- Match the holiday sounds to the pictures of the holiday
From narrated stories to music, learners can use sound in many different ways.
The video on the right is a slide show book trailer for the book Annette Lamb co-authored with her mother. Check it out. Still images were used along with music created in GarageBand and audio added in iMovie. If you like the book trailer, check out the book, After Glow.
For lots of other examples, do a search for "book trailers" in YouTube.
- Audio books
- audio recordings of books that can be downloaded to MP3
- computer-based listening stations with picture-book viduals and audio
- Book talks
- use the book jacket with audio overview of summary, suggested audience, promotion
- create a video booktalk with still images and audio narration.
- How to tutorials
- provide how to's on basic library operations.
For young children, consider adding narration to web pages. For example, read and listen to What is a Rainforest?
- Course content dissemination
- Guest speakers
- Lecture recording
- Language practice
- Teacher's notes
- Classroom recordings: lectures, small group interactions
- Field notes: record notes, interviews, sounds
- Study tool: practice language, poetry reading, repetition
- Advertising - promotions, recruitment
- Audio books - recorded textbooks (with permission)
- Blog news - newsletter, news broadcast
- Class or meeting notes
- Oral histories
- Original musical productions
- Prose and poetry
- Practice - foreign language, technical language, scientific terms
- Reading and writing journal
- Sporting events
- Sounds - animals, birds, warnings, health (heart beats)
An increasing number of audio programs are available in the audio format. Explore the How Stuff Works audio programs.
- Create narrated exhibits of artwork
- Audio critiques of artwork
- Practice exercises
- Projects: news programs, advertisements, etc. in the language
- Readings from literature
- Radio plays
- Collaborative science project
- Historical speeches
- Nature walks
- Oral histories
Many classroom projects benefit from audio enhancements.
Read Podcasting through Time and Space for lots of ideas for using audio in teaching and learning.
Audio Storytelling. Go to the Audio Storytelling projects and find links to student projects on the right. These student projects focus on feature writing and audio editing.
Oral History. Create an oral history project. Use the following resources to get you started:
Musical Scores. Ask students to create the music for a short story or novel. For ideas, go to Sound and Music: The Power to Enhance the Story from the Oscar website.
Consider using audio recordings as the focal point in your project. An increasing number of books are coming with CDs. For instance, the John Denver songs are part of a new series of children's books including Take Me Home, County Road, Sunshine on My Shoulders, Grandma's Feather Bed, and Ancient Rhymes. See previews. Also look for singers and songwriters that focus on academic topics such as history, science, or literature.
Biography Project. Listen to portions of Sacagawea and When the Land Belonged to God by Jack Gladstone. They tell the stories of two people. Whose story will you tell in words, pictures, and music? For more great music for writing and history starters check out Jack Gladstone's CDs.
Documentary Project. Listen to CDS Projects for examples of documentary radio projects. This would be a wonderful local project.
Geology and Geography Project. Listen to a portion of Tappin' the Earth's Backbone by Jack Gladstone. It speaks passionately about our connection to the earth. Write your own story about your feelings about a landform or special place.
History Project. Listen to a portion of Lewis and Clark's Traveling Magical Show by Jack Gladstone. Use words, pictures, and music to tell your own story of a significant historical event. Be sure to tell the story from all perspectives.
How To Project. Listen to a DIY Audio Project. Think about the projects you could do related to cooking, gardening, or crafts.
Legends Project. Listen to a portion of Napi Legend by Jack Gladstone. Read the legends and lore about animals. What animals would you like to be? What special trait does this animal have? Tell the story of becoming this animal.
Use PhotoStory 3 for Windows to create your own audio-rich project.
Radio Project. Did you know IU-B has its own online radio channel? Check out WIUX Pure Student Radio.
Use of sound software matches well with Howard Gardner's verbal/linguistic as well as the musical/rhythmic intelligence. These "music smart" people learn best through sounds including listening and making sounds such as songs, rhythms, patterns, and other types of auditory expression. They are able to use inductive and deductive reasoning and identify relationships in data. Provide students with audio and video recorders to capture their musical expressions. Ask them to choose appropriate music to go with a slide show, artwork, or poem. Create and record hand-made instruments. Add other intelligences such as drawing patterns of music or writing about music and sounds.
Those people with a musical strength like to choose and compose music for multimedia presentations. They like to see and hear patterns, so they may be good at sequencing a presentation. They are good listeners, so ask them to look for things that might be missing after listening to audio.
Begin with Internet Archive: Audio. Explore the wide range of sounds available through their site including thousands of open source audio. What do you have to contribute?
As you're designing technology-rich experiences, be sure to incorporate existing quality programs from sources such as those below.
- Audio Stories from Links Learning
- Clifford Interactive Stories
- Colonial Williamsburg. Use these audio for projects related to the Colonial time period. (Okay for Classroom Use)
- Creature Features - each animal has an Audio/Video link
- Scholastic Listen & Read
Young Adults and Adults
- Audio Programs from Archives
- The Concert - Classical Music Podcasts
- Free Music Archive
- Groks Science Radio Show and Podcast
- Learning Music Monthly
- Learn Out Loud - search for audio and video content
- Library of Congress - Audio Recordings
- LibriVox - books in the public domain
- Mercury Theatre on the Air
- National Geographic Podcasts
- National Public Radio
- US Supreme Course Media Audio (Click on the case, then click the Case: )
- White House Speeches
Links to the materials in this section can be found in the navigation bar on the left side of this page. Continue to the Tools: Video page.