16 Ways to use Audacity in the Classroom

Audacity is an easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder.  It runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X, and has a very helpful online manual. Audacity is also free and open source software so you can use, copy, and share it without restriction (which invites classroom conversations about copyright and Creative Commons licensing).

The program is not specifically geared towards students, so you won’t find bright colors or cute avatars.  However, what you will find is a ton of functionality.  Students in today’s world should be trained to be proficient in verbal communication both through traditional face-to-face interaction and electronic means, and there are an awful lot of other projects that you can do with Audacity.

  1. Flip your classroom.  Record and edit a lecture then post it to your content management system (CMS) for students to view or refer back to.
  2. Start a Podcast.  Check out my tips for How to Start a Classroom Podcast, as well as Using Podcasts to Generate Deep Discussions in the Classroom.
  3. Practice language.  Foreign language students can use Audacity to record and play back their lessons as well as to submit their own speech samples.   
  4. Record speeches.   Recording oral presentations allows you time to grade them without the pressure of a time limit.  Additionally, students benefit from being able to archive their important oral presentations for their own future reference.
  5. Record journal entries. Consider your learning objective for reflection assignments.  If you are more concerned with students exploring and expressing their thoughts than with them getting in extra writing practice, an audio recording is an excellent choice.  
  6. Peer-evaluations.  Students can quickly record and send one another their feedback.
  7. Develop journalism skills.  They can conduct interviews of teachers, each other, family or community leaders. Other basic skills for a journalism class include recording natural sounds, and other effects relevant to telling a story.  
  8. Make an audio/radio advertisement.   A unit in advertising combines analysis, planning, aesthetics, psychology, budgeting and more.
  9. Foster reading development. Reading books aloud is an integral step for emerging readers.
  10. Enhance presentations.  Record sound for slideshows, from students or teachers.
  11. Integrate with Voki.  Upload your mp3 created in Audacity to Voki to create speaking avatars.
  12. Share compositions. Document your class singing, reading poetry, reciting mnemonic devices or whatever you like to share with others such as parents or a class in a sister school.
  13. Record soundtracks. Complete animation projects by including dialogue, songs and more. 
  14. Explore sound effects.   Use free sound effects websites to include sound effects for those animations, or make sound stories for images. 
  15. Dub and remix audio tracks. Your class can download music and many other types of audio tracks from Creative Commons and Wikimedia.  Let them dub their own voices onto music tracks, or layer other sounds.  Audacity makes it easy to cut, copy, and paste music tracks to create remixes of their favorite songs.
  16. Learn about audio file formats. For example, Audacity projects should be saved in two different formats: as Audacity project .aup files to allow future editing and revision, but must also be exported to a final playback format such as MP3 or WAV. 

Head to the Audacity download page to get started with your students! 

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