Audio in the Classroom!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions and ideas (unless otherwise cited), however, are my own.

It seems like we are in a renaissance period for audio. Despite the dominance of videos and pictures (hello, TikTok, SnapChat and Instagram…), people are increasingly turning to audio for communication, learning, sharing and entertainment.

Podcast listenership continues to grow (some stats here and here), audio tools like Voxer are becoming increasingly popular for PLNs, educators freaked out when the addition of audio in Google Slides was delayed last spring and, lastly, “podcasting in the classroom” sessions at education conferences are becoming increasingly prevalent.

So, how can you use it in your classroom?  Before we get to that, let’s talk about how to create the audio files.

Audio Recording Options

There are lots of options out there, all of which have pros and cons.  I’ve discussed some on my podcast (here and here) and other educators have shared about options on their blogs (Eric Curts, John Sowash). As long as you identify your goal and think through the pros and cons, you’ll probably have multiple options to choose from.

One thing that I like to consider when selecting a tech tool for a new endeavor is: Do we already use a tool that can also do this effectively? Not only does that reduce the learning curve, but it means that we’re potentially connecting our students’ login and information with 1 less app or website.

If you like that line of thinking, Screencastify may be the option for you when it comes to audio in the classroom!  Did you realize that you could export Screencastify recordings as mp3 audio files? Check it out!

This animation shows the process of recording with Screencastify and then exporting the recording as an audio file.
Pausable version of this #EduGIF available here.

If you’re already using the tool in your classroom for screencasts and other video projects, it might be a great option for you.  This is available in the FREE version of the app.  Your files are limited to 5 minutes in length, but you can record as many videos (or, in this case, audio files) as you’d like.  The paid version provides unlimited video (or audio file) lengths.

21 Uses of Audio in the Classroom!

Note: each of these options can be done in any audio recording tool. Many of them could also be done via video or other formats rather than audio. The tool and the format that you choose should be based on what works best for you, your learners, your content and your goals.

1. Overdubbing Videos

I have advocated for the use of Screencastify or other screencasting tools to create overdubbed videos, such as videos of sports highlights with the broadcasters’ voices overdubbed by students taking a Spanish class.  Eric Curts has a great blog post about doing this.

But now that we can play audio in Google Slides, students could record their overdub, export it as audio and then…
(1) put the original video on a slide,
(2) set the video to mute,
(3) set the video to autoplay,
(4) put the overdub audio file on the same slide,
(5) set the audio to autoplay and, finally,
(6) if they timed it up right, when they present the slides it’ll appear that the video has been overdubbed by the student!

Here’s my favorite part of this idea: With the original strategy of recording the screen with the video playing while overdubbing it was walking in some copyright gray area (at best!), this option is safer as the original YouTube video is still being played.

2. Formative Assessment Checks

Having students submit exit tickets or other formative assement checks as audio files could be a great way to actually hear what your students are thinking!

3. Reading Fluency and Comprehension

Want to assess all of your students’ reading fluency and comprehension? Audio could be a great way to do this.

4. Student Created Audiobooks

Students could create audiobooks for their own written works! This will also help them reflect and revise as they hear their writing.

5. Assisting Learners with Special Needs

Recording audio versions of in-class readings could be a great addition of assistive technology for students who have difficulty with or a disability with reading or sight. As many educators work on implementing universal design for learning (UDL), this could be useful!

6. Teacher-Student Communication

This could be a great way for your students to ask questions or share about how things are going for them.

7. Sub Plans

When I was teaching STEM, I often recorded video lessons for days when I would be gone at a conference or meeting. But what if I was absent because I was home sick? I certainly don’t want my students’ seeing a video of sick Jake. I could use audio!

8. World Languages or English Language Learners

Want to assess students’ use of a language other than their native one? Audio could be a great way!

9. Music Classes!

Duh!

10. Recording Lessons or Instructions

Tired of repeating yourself? Many teachers have gone to recording videos of instructions or lessons for students to watch as many times as needed and whenever needed. Now you can do the same with audio if you prefer!

11. Practicing Speeches

In one of the earliest episodes of the Educational Duct Tape Podcast, Ann Radefeld and I discussed ways for students to practice speeches. We actually shared, among multiple options, the idea of recording the speeches with Screencastify so that the students could self-assess.  While I like the idea of students seeing themselves speaking, using audio files is an option too!

12. Teacher Created Podcasts

Want a novel way to teach your students content? Record it as a podcast!

13. Class Created Podcasts

Having students collaborate to create a podcast is a great way to teach them collaboration skills, but also could really enhance curricular learning. Some teachers even have students create podcasts about what’s happening in class for their parents/guardians and families to listen to!

Since all of your students can access Screencastify (I’m assuming here…), they could each record segments that certain students (or you) can put together into 1 audio file.

14. Student Created Podcasts

I always advocate for replacing paper & pencil activities (when appropriate) with more creative options. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather listen to a student podcast than read a student essay!

While there are lots of options available for podcasting–including Anchor.FM, which is free–using a tool like Screencastify would be a nice way to simulate a podcast within the safe confines of a classroom, especially if your students are under 13 years old.

Jen Giffen wrote a great blog post about putting those audio files into Google Slides as a “podcast player.”

15. Instructions in a HyperDoc

Whether built in Google Docs, Slides, Drawings or even in Microsoft Word, Wakelet or elsewhere, HyperDocs are dependent on students viewing information and procedures digitally and at different times.  You could record the instructions once and link them into the HyperDoc for students to listen to when they’re ready!

16. Sharing Info with Parents

Want to fill parents in on some important information or update them on what’s going on in class? You could record it as audio!

17. A Novel Replacement for Reading Logs

Did you get pun there? 😬 (the sad part is that I’ve used it before!) 😆 Anyhow, what if students recorded their reactions, reflection and responses to their reading as an audio file and put them all in one location (a Google Drive folder, in a Google Slides project, etc.).

18. Feedback

Students will probably understand your feedback better if it’s in an audio format rather than just in text.

19. Narrating your Google Slides

If you record yourself going through a presentation, you could add that audio to your actual Slides to provide a narrated version that your students could look at–and listen to–on their own time!

20. Voiceovers for Videos

If you want to provide additional information to a video, recording an audio voiceover could be a good way to do it.  If you follow the process in #1 above, you could even set your audio voiceover and the video to autoplay simultaneously in Google Slides! 🤯

21. Brainstorming & Pre-Writing

A key step in the writing process or the design process is what happens before the writing or designing. Recording a spoken brainstorming session could be really powerful!

Want more ideas?

Check out this post from Screencastify, this post from Edutopia, and this post from Kasey Bell’s Shake Up Learning site.

What other ideas do you have?

Which one is your favorite?
Do you have any examples to share?
COMMENT BELOW!

Published by

Jake Miller

Jake is a Google for Education Certified Trainer and is the Lead Technology Integration Specialist for Brady Middle School in Ohio's Orange City Schools. In the past he taught STEM, Science & Math in Stow-Munroe Falls, Ohio, where he was also a leader in the district's Technology Leadership Team and a co-advisor for the middle school's STEM Club. He has been an educator since 2003. His Bachelor's Degree is in middle-level education (math/science) from the University of Akron and his Master's Degree is in Instructional Technology from Kent State University. He has enjoyed providing more than 100 professional development opportunities at conferences and school districts across the state of Ohio. He is very involved in Twitter (@JakeMillerTech) and provides regular pointers for educators with his #GAFETip tweets.