The Sound of Learning

Recently, my college added public speaking as a required skill for leadership classes. Digital sound tools are a perfect way to incorporate the goals of public speaking without taking class time for traditional (and often tedious) class presentations.

This fall, when I have students read a couple of chapters for homework, I’d like to assign 1-2 students per chapter to produce a 1-2 minute podcast to introduce the chapter. Instead of saying “Everything is important,” they’ll have to identify the argument, themes, and evidence in a concise manner. I can begin each class with these sound recordings to kick off conversation.

Another assignment I’d like to consider owes a debt to the “Memory Palace” podcast. In upper level courses, students produce 8-11 page research papers– traditional history papers, footnotes, primary sources, blah blah blah. I already have them write a twesis statement– a thesis in 140 characters or fewer– to make sure they are not cluttering their ideas with flowery language. For a sound component, I want them to produce a 3-4 minute podcast that tells the story of their research. This will emphasize writing a narrative. Then, the recording requires public speaking skills including tone, inflection, and speed. They can include ambient sounds or music for effect.

I’m also excited to begin using OHMS to preserve an archive of student oral histories. I would like to continue with the podcasting project in Oral History, but I’m learning more about how to manage the timelines and how to manage the archive. I’ll try to keep my sites tidy.

Generally, though, as someone who HATES being the only voice in a classroom, I’m so excited about the possibilities of digital sound in teaching. I cannot wait to play. But for now, play ball!

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