Using Audio

Recorded audio can be used in a variety of ways to enhance the teaching and learning process. Apart from being used as a way to effectively communicate ideas it offers flexibility in where, when and how often it can be accessed. It can benefit students who have a particular learning style or have difficulty reading. Students themselves can also be encouraged to produce audio content. This can help to improve their knowledge and enhance their understanding of material, develop communication skills or share ideas and collaborate.

Ways to incorporate audio into teaching and learning

Audio is widely used to record lectures and sometimes seminars so that students have an opportunity to listen to the material, if they missed it initially or want to review sections of it again. However, rather than record entire lectures, audio recordings can be used to provide material in preparation for lectures or to expand and supplement them afterwards.

Apart from supplementing the teaching process, audio is being used to provide feedback to students about their performance in assignments. It can be detailed, conveying more complex thoughts and provided quickly. Due to the subtleties and intonations of hearing a voice, criticism is not taken as harshly as when written. It is also more effectively received by the students as speech is considered more personal.

Range of possible uses by lectures and tutors

  • Recording entire lectures.
  • Providing preparation material for students prior to a lecture.
  • Providing supplementary information that you may not have time to cover in the lecture.
  • Providing supplementary material explaining difficult/complex areas of the course.
  • Providing a summary of journal articles on a research topic.
  • Interviews with specialists in a subject area.
  • Providing information for placements, field trips or off-site activities
  • Giving information about assignments, assessment criteria and submission procedure.
  • Giving feedback to students on assignments.
  • Providing pronunciation for words and phrases in different languages, technical terms or medical terms.
  • Providing interactive information such as tasks, questions and links to websites.
  • Recording Seminar discussions.

Range of possible uses by students

  • Encouraging students to reflect on an activity.
  • Students summarising a key idea, concept or theory.
  • Discussion between groups of students.
  • Completing assignment work, for example, a presentation or field report.
  • Interviewing a lecturer, subject specialist or other students.
  • Practising the skills necessary for effective communication.
  • Peer evaluation.

Advantages for users

Utilising audio can help to develop students’ independent study skills. It can encourage greater engagement with the learning material and allow it to be more flexible and provide support and encouragement.

Disadvantages for users

Providing resources just in an audio format can exclude people who have problems with their hearing and need text and/or visual alternatives. The development of audio resources needs to be part of a blended learning approach and integrated with other learning activities.

Relevant Articles

Case Studies

  • Nortcliffe, A. and Middleton, A. J. (2008). A three year case study of using audio to blend the engineers learning environment. Engineering Education, 3(2), 45-57.

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