Name: Jill KoppelEmail: jillkoppel@yahoo.com

I work at Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre and enjoyed the introduction to digital audio technologies in the Canuhearme? sessions in 2007. This year I'm hoping to build on my audio recording and editing skills for use in a range applications in the ESL and literacy classroom.

Projects in 2007

Cooking with Gas - the movie

The part-time English students prepared and baked some cakes for all students and teachers at CNLC for Adult Learners' Week. I picked the best photos to fit a chronological and process-driven narrative (practising simple past tense). Students wrote the script collaboratively, then practised and performed it. I used my ipod to record each segment of narration and edited each in Audacity. I then used Moviemaker to marry up voices with photos. Each student got a copy on their own CD.

Speaking about a creative work - Aboriginal Art

My Intermediate ESL students made voice recordings describing an Aboriginal art work and I edited these individual recordings into a Moviemaker project with all the art works. This was perhaps a little too ambitious, given that the students' were ESL Intermediate level and their recordings represented the culmination of individual research on the artists and their works. Some of the students resorted to reading their scripts and the resulting audio 'performances' were less than satisfactory. Teacher time taken on the editing in Audacity and Moviemaker was also extremely time consuming. I've included one example here.
Jack Wunawun by Lin Onus
'Marion' is talking about 'Jack Wunawun' by Lin Onus.

Mp3 players - observations and preferences

When I purchased my ipod, I intended to incorporate its use in the classroom both as a player for listening activities and a recorder of student oracy. Given its cost and known fragility, I'm reluctant to hand it over for students to use so I'm still seeking an mp3 player that I can happily train students to use. The T60 iriver which the Centre purchased (as recommended by other teachers) has driven me to distraction on several occasions: I find it user-unfriendly and it uses up batteries. Maybe the next generation iriver will fit the bill (even if it requires file conversion when downloading onto PC).

Update on mp3 players - using the E100 iriver for voice recording - March 2009

I think I'm getting the hang of operating the E100 iriver - far superior user friendliness than the T60 and it recharges whilst plugged in to the PC.
Here is a recording prepared to assist the staff at CNLC to use it.

Audacity - for Dummies?!

This can be a time trap for perfectionists! And I still haven't learnt the keyboard shortcuts which would cut down the mouse work. I had some heart-breaking experiences of losing hours of editing by not saving correctly so I've taken a little holiday to recover motivation! On my next time round I'll keep edits to the minimum: how many ums and ahhhs and speech errors should you remove from spoken performance?
On the positive side, it allowed me to slot a number of voice recordings into the Moviemaker project of students' talking about aboriginal art.

Projects in 2008


A PC Multi-media class.

About the Learners

This group are adult literacy students enrolled in the CGEA. One has advanced photography skills and a keen interest in developing his Myspace page. The other has some sound reading and research skills complimentary to his.

Goals for the activity

The students would further develop PC skills such as managing different types of files, searching and researching topics using the internet, interpersonal and performance skills such as interviewing people about their jobs and speaking clearly, literacy skills for writing and reading their stories, project skills such as bringing together a number of elements and completing an A-V product for an audience of their peers and the community of the CNLC.

Outline of the activity (process)

Their first Photostory was a topic of their own choosing: a hobby, interest that they were already conversant with. This freed them to concentrate on developing their skills and confidence with the software.
Their second Photostory added a layer of complexity because they were required to feature a community organisation and to interview some people to gather information about the group.
The AMES Kit Creating the Connections provided an excellent backbone for the development of the Photostories, including key documents such as the storyboard: essential for planning and performance of the script.
The students recorded their scripts directly to PC using headsets. This can be a little difficult in a PC classroom where background noise may slip in. One student also successfully selected and incorporated music from the free music site.

Technologies (equipment / rationale)

Given my early experiences with digital audio and Moviemaker last year, I decided to use Windows Photostory software because it is relatively easy to use: students import their photos, record their script directly into the program using their headset on the PC and can enhance their story with simple photo editing, transitions and added music if they wish. The major known and persistent issue with Photostory is inadequate and inconsistent sound volume: causing frustration for the participants and a less than optimal quality of sound on the finished product.
The second Photostory required recording interviewees, ostensibly so that students didn't have to try to take notes but could listen again later to pick up facts for their stories. Recording was done on my ipod rather than the iriver (see my discussion and comparison of mp3 players above). One of the interviews was lost due to operator error.

What happened in class?

Students worked independently to plan and bring together the elements of their projects. I encouraged them to help each other where possible. At strategic points I used a data projector to demonstrate effective management of files and to display model Photostories for inspiration.
We also went to the Big Issue head office on two occasions to interview staff and vendors and to participate in their fortnightly barbecue and vendor gathering.

The final Photostories

Emma's first Photostory: Geelong Premiers 2007

Emma's second Photostory: The Big Issue street magazine

Carl's first Photostory: The Street Art of inner Melbourne

Carl's second Photostory: CNLC - the place to be

Reflections: What worked? What would you change?

The combination of skills and challenges represented by the Photostory software and the Creating the Connections resource was ideal for the particular needs of this group of ALBE students. Nevertheless, I consider that an Intermediate or pre-intermediate ESL group with some PC skills could also produce a photostory.
Rehearsal of scripts was critical to success of the final product: I learnt quickly that when working with voice it takes some practice to get a coherent and fluent 'performance' from the speaker without the person sounding as though they are reading. This rehearsal process was also valuable for reader fluency and confidence.
Students were encouraged to review the information content of their scripts by listening to their recorded interviews again - in spite of this, these resources were underutilised by the students.

Reflections: from the Learners

Emma's reflections: and Carl's reflections:

Here Emma interviews Carl about the Photostory project:

Additional comments - ways to adapt the activity

Students can upload their Photostory to their Myspace - this was done successfully (and with great pride) by one student.