Audacity isn't just a piece of free audio-manipulating software; it's also a great way to teach a lesson about freedom itself. As the site says, it isn't just that the site doesn't cost anything, but that users are also free to help improve and manipulate the software itself. Teachers can talk to students about the difference between open-source software and licensed software products that cost money. What are the benefits of making things available for free, and what are the drawbacks?Continue reading Show less
Audacity is a website that offers free software that can be downloaded and used to record and edit sounds. It's a cross-platform audio editor that helps students record live audio through a microphone or mixer; it also lets them digitize recordings from cassette tapes, records, or minidiscs. The site itself doesn't have any bells or whistles, which makes it simple to navigate and easy to understand. Kids can download the easy-to-use software for a variety of platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, and other operating platforms.
The bells and whistles are reserved for the software, which enables users to record live audio, convert tapes and records into digital recordings, mix sounds together, and more. There's also an open forum to discuss the software. This open-source software is easily downloadable, but it helps if you've already got some digital audio knowledge and tech savvy in order to operate and manipulate the recording device. Kids can make their own ringtones, remove vocals from songs, create podcasts, and transfer tapes and records to a computer, opening up some interesting learning possibilities.
Although not specifically designed for educational use, Audacity may have some potential uses in certain classroom settings. This open-source software can be a great way for students to tinker with audio engineering tools and improve their tech skills. They can use the technology they download to manipulate existing audio and record new pieces, or they can use their creativity to do something unexpected. And because this open-source software is constantly being improved, kids can join in the collaborative process, suggesting modifications and providing feedback. Audacity requires some technological knowledge, but there's lots of potential for experimentation and creativity.
The site provides ample instruction, guidance, and resources to assist general users. However, if you're going to use it in the classroom, you'll probably need to scaffold students' use of the program. The site does have an online manual with specialized tutorials (some in languages other than English), an Audacity wiki, and links to various articles that offer tips for using the software. But the site, and software, on their own, aren't ready-made for learning. The site itself is not particularly engaging, but -- with some structure and scaffolding -- most students will find everything they need here to record and edit sounds of all kinds.