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Before I delve into the content of this post…I want to share this video created by students at Robin Hood primary school in Birmingham. This video sums up the purpose of this post…or actually this is going to be a blog series. 21st Century Teachers need to engage students and learn the technology.  Please watch this…it’s insightful. [youtube]

Every teacher should learn how to use basic digital audio recording software. I will share why I believe this is a skill that all teachers should learn, and I will share resources and tools to get you started.  I think all teachers should learn how to use Audacity.  The reason I’m advocating that all teachers should learn Audacity and not another digital recording program is because it can be used with Mac and PC computers.  It is free, easy to use, and is more universal than other programs.  I’m approaching this blog series from a basic technology viewpoint, meaning I want to discuss this in layman’s terms.  Too often these blog posts and explanations for using Audacity or other content is too technical and hard for people to follow if you don’t understand technical jargon.

On today’s blog post, I will start with basic skills. Due to the large amount of resources and capabilities with Audacity, this will be a blog series with this post as Part 1. I also don’t want to overwhelm anyone, especially those who don’t think they are very computer savvy and literate.  This is a step-by-step series from the most basic to more advanced skills.  If you have questions or comments on what I share, please leave them at the bottom of this post or send me feedback via the “contact” button at the top of my blog. I will respond.

I am writing this series because I have often been asked, How do you create the audio that you do in your lessons?” Or, I have had teachers tell me that recording digital audio using computers seems complicated and they would never be able to do it or have patience to do it. I’ve also had teachers tell me that it takes too much time to learn how to use a new program and actually use it in their lessons.  They don’t see a huge justification to need to use digital audio recording.

I am writing this from a simple basic perspective so that all readers can:

  • understand why learning to use Audacity as a teacher is crucial
  • learn the benefit it will have on your teaching practices as well as for your students.
  • learn how to download the program
  • learn how to do basic recordings with the program
  • learn advanced features (to come in future blog posts)
  • learn how to turn your recordings into MP3 files
  • learn how to export the program (to come in future blog posts)
  • learn how to use your recordings in other multimedia or lessons you create

In this post I am intentionally not listing links to Royalty Free sound files, links to podcasting, and links to other uses for Audacity.  Those will be covered in later separate blog posts.  The intent of this post is an introduction on why teachers should learn Audacity and the very basics of getting started.  All other content will be for future posts, so stay tuned.

I have created two blog posts where I used Audacity to create MP3 files.  You can check these out at the follow links: Sight Word Acquisition Book and Accompanying MP3 Files and Alphabet Acquisition Book and Accompanying MP3 Files.  The recordings I have made have been done on my home computer due to the unavailability of this program on my school’s computer. By recording at home on my own device I am assured I have intellectual rights and ownership to the items I record.  To make these recordings I used a basic microphone I plugged into my computer.  My computer does have a built-in microphone, but recording on it creates distorted sounds.  By using an added microphone it better assures a more clear recording.  I don’t claim to be an expert recorder, nor an expert in technology.  I just learn how to use the basic functions of programs and create teaching content.  I basically press buttons and do.

For amusement but also to paint a picture of why I’m advocating that all teachers should learn to use Audacity, I created this quick GoAnimate video. If you want to be amused, watch Old School teacher vs. 21st Century Teacher by adaptivelearnin

Here are several examples of why Audacity is a good tool for all teachers to learn (These are just a few examples.  Audacity can be used for much more with teaching and learning):

  • Here is an example of something cool you can do with Audacity. There are many more options for using Audacity, but I’m including this because many people globally will relate to it. This Digital Storytelling about the 2002 World Cup was created by Jhony and Adbull at an ESL program in New York at LaGaurdia Community College. (Click the bold typing in order to access the link.  Due to the bullets, the link did not show up as colored.  I don’t know HTML much.)
  • Here students are using Audacity to record a Reader’s Theater. Again, this is just an example. There are tons of uses for Audacity. (Click the bold typing in order to access the link.)
  • I’m including this video because it gives an example on how use Audacity to improve intonation with speaking English. This same concept can be applied to learning really any language. Remember the purpose of this post is not to discuss in-depth aspects of using Audacity for teaching. It is an overview of why teachers should use Audacity. I’m including just several examples of teaching uses. I love visuals, so these provide visual examples for you. [youtube]
  • This wiki is a wonderful resource even if you are not a literacy teacher. It is full of Audacity help, ideas, suggestions, content, examples, etc. This wiki also discusses how to use Audacity to help students write better and correct their errors. Please check it out. This one is worth bookmarking, Improve Literacy with Audacity. (Click the bold typing in order to access the link.)
  • This blog post by Twitter screenname @klbeasley list “10 Great Ways to Use Audacity with your Students“.  If you are questioning why I am so strongly advocating why all teachers should learn how to use Audacity, or audio recording, check out the ideas she lists.  Even if you are not questioning me, this is still worth reading, to check out ideas. The readers in the comments section list several Audacity links as well. (Click the bold typing in order to access the link.)

Why Use Audacity?– Click on this link to discover reasons why teachers should use it.

Tips for using Audacity in the classroom for students.  This LiveBinder is full of resources for using Audacity in Schools.

Basic 1-2-3 etc. directions on how to use Audacity. This link is good for you if you need directions explained in an instructional way.

If you don’t think you are computer savvy, please bear with me and continue to read this post.  I am writing this post for everyone, but particularly for you.  My intent is to write for those of you who say to yourself, “learning how to use a recording software program and learning how to make my own MP3’s is complicated and way beyond my computer abilities.  I could never do that.  I don’t have the skills!”  

Before I move on to discussing more about using Audacity as a teacher, I’d like to share with you my computer technical background, why I can relate to the non-computer literate, and why I believe all teachers can learn to do this.  You ask, why can I relate to many of those of you who don’t have savvy computer abilities.  Six years ago or so, before taking a Computers for Teachers class, I could only use the computer for emailing, basic Microsoft Word paper writing, surfing the web, basic chatting, and ordering plane tickets.  I did not really use it for anything else and really didn’t know how to.  I classified myself as not being very computer literate.  When other teachers or friends would mention cool computer software or programs to me, I would laugh to myself, roll my eyes, and brush them off.  Computers seemed to always freeze on me.  I would often lose data I would type, and in my opinion I seemed jinxed against being able to learn how to use programs.  I took a Computers for Teachers class because I had to to earn my California Clear Teaching Credential.  Even when I took that class, I was often lost and didn’t understand the need for half of the stuff I was being taught.  At the time, never did I realize how much I actually learned in that class even if it meant me fumbling around the computer a bit before I could figure out to how to do something.  That class is one of the best investments I ever made.  Yes, when I did try to use some of the skills I learned for creating my lessons, I did fumble some and it did get frustrating.  It aggravated me.  I persevered and slowly learned the basics of programs.  As I persevered, I learned more, became more comfortable with doing tasks, and actually slowly became better at using the computer.  I now love and am comfortable learning new software, platforms and programs.  If  you classify yourself as not very computer literate, I was you!  I understand.  You can do it!  You can learn how to do this, just be patient, embrace yourself and take one step at a time.

This SlideShare is full of resources for getting started with using Audacity. It also lists some ways teachers can use Audacity or have students use it. It also lists uses for Photo Story and how to download it. If you are reading this and the content is overwhelming to you, I recommend reading through the content on this SlideShare right now only for Audacity and when you become more comfortable with audio recording go back and read through the Photo Story content. I am not going to discuss Photo Story right now because the purpose of this post is about basic use of Audacity for teachers.  The end of this slide presentation is full of resources and links for using Audacity.  I definitely recommend checking those out when you have time.

Audacity And Photo Story In The Classroom[slideshare id=62788&w=425&h=355&sc=no]

Resources for getting you started with downloading and recording with Audacity:
  • This Audacity Tutorial, linked from Frederick County Public School’s Technology Resource Teachers website is wonderful.  Even if you skip some of the other content I list, you should check this out.  It discusses how using Audacity can meet Maryland State Teacher and Student Technology Standards.  Although they discuss meeting Maryland standards, you will be able to relate this to meeting your state’s standards.  If you are in a different country, you can use it to meet technology standards within your country, local area or school.  I’m not familiar with the requirements of other countries.  Next, this tutorial discusses ways to use Audacity in many content areas.  This link then discusses Fair Use of the Audacity as a teacher on the computers and in the classes in the school system.  The Fair Use policies in your school many vary some.  Please check those out and how Audacity can be downloaded and used within your school’s policies.  Lastly this link lists basic step-by-step instructions for downloading, recording, and using Audacity.(Click the bold typing in order to access the link.)
  • This Audacity Quick Guide by Frederick County Public Schools is a quick basic tutorial on how to record using Audacity and how to save your recording as an MP3. (Click the bold typing in order to access the link.)
  • If you want a very basic outline on what the buttons on Audacity are used for check out this Audacity-Quickstart pdf by Wesley Fryer. (Click the bold typing in order to access the link.)
  • If you are a visual learner and would like close up screen shots and explanations for downloading, setting up and recording with Audacity, then check out this wiki by Sue Waters. (Click the bold typing in order to access the link.)
Videos for visual explanations and examples to get you started with downloading and recording with Audacity:
  • This video gives you very basics instructions for downloading Audacity. I have included several other videos for giving instructions for downloading Audacity. This video gives the most basic instructions for those of you who don’t understand computer technical jargon. This is from a music teacher, but all teachers can use this for learning the basics of downloading and using Audacity.  [youtube]
  • This is a good video for simple use of Audacity.  [youtube]
  • Downloading audacity to your computer and being able to record and upload MP3’s to the net. If your computer is a Mac, this video tells you what Audacity file you need to download.  [youtube]
  • Tutorial – How to use Audacity.  This Video Has no Audio  [youtube]
  • How to record on Audacity.  The Sound of this video is not great but it is the best video I could find that gave only instructions for recording with Audacity [youtube]
  • How to record on Audacity [youtube]

There are many features of recording with Audacity: creating MP3 files, saving files, doing advanced recording including multiple track recording, exporting Audacity files to attach to other computer or multimedia files for lessons, using it for podcasting for your students and so forth. Since there is so much information to share, I am going to separate these features into future posts.  This way I don’t overwhelm you with too much content too fast.  Review the items I have listed and discussed here.  Get familiar with them, download Audacity, try to record with it, and that’s it for now.  If you think you can do more, then by all means do more.  However, if you are not very computer savvy, then I encourage you to do these few things now.  In my next post I will discuss how to save your recordings into MP3 files and more.

If you are not very computer savvy, please do the following when downloading and trying Audacity:

  1. be patient
  2.  persevere
  3. have confidence
  4. know you will fumble around some, but it’s okay
  5. tell yourself, you can do it
  6. ask for help
  7. if you get too frustrated, take a break and come back to it
  8. don’t say, “I can’t do this.”
  9. don’t give up…try again…and again…again

It will get easier the more you do it!

You can do it!

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Beth Crumpler is the founder of adaptivelearnin. Beth is an educator who is passionate about platforms for adaptive learning and curriculum design. She earned her B.A. in music education from Southeastern University, M.S. in TESOL from Shenandoah University, and 42 graduate-level credits from several universities in California. Beth is an experienced teacher, curriculum writer, blogger, and elearning course developer in the fields of ESL and music education. She has written learning content for several major educational companies/institutions. Her strongest asset is in using needs analysis and thinking creatively to develop adaptive educational materials both through kinesthetic hands-on and technological platforms to meet the diverse learning needs of students regardless of age, learning need and content area. Beth has taught students of many linguistic, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds. She loves her work, loves to bring positive humor to it whenever possible, and is seriously dedicated to the profession. Beth's experiences teaching for numerous content areas, diverse populations, and a wide range of age groups is what propelled her with the vision to create adaptivelearnin. Her vision has been to support educators in finding resources which support learning through modified and targeted experiences so that all students receive individualized learning to facilitate their educational growth needs. Adaptivelearnin is a place where educators can find digital and hands-on adaptive learning resources for planning and instructional purposes. Beth does freelance curriculum writing, article writing/blogging, and online course development. For inquires about hiring Beth for work, please email her at Go to to check out published articles Beth has written. Opinions are her own and are not those of her employer, or previous employers.