10 free eLearning audio and video tools for teachers

Posted August 18, 2014 by

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Image source: Microsoft clip-art

Some time ago I ran into the article 10 free ELearning Audio Tools for Teachers. I wanted to bring that list to your attention and to share some of my thoughts based on experience working with these tools. I’ll follow the same order as it was listed in the article above and I will make the names of the applications I recommend bold.

10. Windows Movie Maker (Windows only). It used to be installed on every PC and came with every Windows OS.  But not anymore. It is still available on Microsoft site for free. This is a great simple video editor and possibly this is the only video editor you need for creating a simple video content for your class. You can record right into it from your computer’s camera or you can work with files recorded on camcorder or smartphone.

What if you have a Mac? Movie Maker’s brother from Mac OS side is iMovie. It’s installed on every Mac by default and does all what the MovieMaker does, and a little more, but overall they both are similar, simple, effective, straightforward from user’s point tools, that get the job done.
I’ve used them both with great results, but really mastered iMovie lately. Check out my staff intro video, it’s done on iMovie.

9. Photo Booth / GarageBand (Mac).  Photo Booth is a simple program that allows you to capture a video or take a photo from your webcam, trim a video and export it in .mov (.jpg for photo) format. This is possibly just what you need to make a simple video. But for more tweaks you have to go to IMovie. Why not to use that one from the very beginning?

GarageBand comes for free on Macs and is intended to serve beginning musicians providing relatively simple and relatively powerful multi-track recording and a MIDI virtual studio. If you know how to operate it – good. You can record your audio on it, edit and export in MP3 format. If you are not familiar with it, I’d recommend to start with Wavepad – it will save you few hours of trying to figure things out.

8. PowerPoint. Yes, PowerPoint can record your audio notations and embed the audio … But it is probably not going to work for the online environment  that well. Theoretically, you can store your PPTX files in the Learning Management System (LMS), but then your students will have to have PPT software on their computers to be able to open your file after the download. That might be a challenge for many of them. We suggest our instructors to convert their PPT files into PDF format, and if you have PPT with audio embedded into it, please refer to Camtasia software to make a video out of it. This will work better!

7. Audacity (Windows/Mac/Linux) is an audio editor that you can get for free. It allows you record, edit and save audio in different formats.  It works on PC and Mac and is simple to use. One thing to keep in mind, you’ll have to download and install MP3 codec/plug-in separately. I have a copy of audacity installed on every computer I’ve had for the last few years and I’ve used it a lot!

6. Sound Recorder (Windows). This sound recording program is built into every Windows equipped computer. You can find one in Start > All Programs > Accessories. It is good for taking notes for yourself. It’s not great for posting on the web as it records only in Windows Media Audio (.WMA) format. You will need a converter to make a widely used MP3 file. I would not rely on this tool as a content creator.

5. YouTube. Everyone knows and loves YouTube nowadays! But do you know that you can record right into YouTube from your webcam and then trim and tweak the recorded video? Give it a try – this is probably the easiest way to get your out there and embed into LMS later on. Beware that your video can be seen by anyone now. The trick to keep it to the limited audience is to give the video a gibberish code name, so people searching for say “math 101” will not get it in a the search result.

On another hand, PCC has Kaltura, a streaming server integrated with D2L that allows you to do the same thing and limit access to just your courses.

4. Jing. Jing is a screen capturing software that will capture your screen and all the movements on it along with your voice notations. It is made by TechSmith, who also makes Camtasia, but is much simpler and gives you an option to host your video clip on a free screencast.com account. You can embed the video or send a link of it to your student. That would be the simplest, most streamlined way to get your message across, if the screencasting works for your subject. You can also download your clip for more editing and post it later on YouTube or Kaltura site. This video explains how Jing works.

3. Vocaroo. A simple and efficient online voice recorder. To start with it go to the vocaroo.com. Click record, review your recording, click to save and share your recording with the world. Embed, email, tweet, Facebook, create a QR Code or download. You cannot change privacy settings – everyone who has the link can hear you. Here’s a recording that I’m sharing with you.

2. Voki. There are folks who don’t like to be on camera. And there are folks who like to have fun in virtual reality. Check out voki.com, where you can create your personal avatar, who can speak with your voice (if you record your audio), or simply type the text you want read aloud. Here’s an example of a Voki recording.

1. Italk. It is a great app for people on the go, but there are a couple drawbacks that I can see just from reading the description. It doesn’t save files in MP3 format and you need an external converter to do this. Also extracting the recording from your mobile device can be tricky.

But wait… the article we are looking at was written almost 1.5 years ago and things got changed and improved over that time. There is a ton of audio recording apps for mobile devices out there and we should make a separate post to review some of them in the near future.

Note: This program was not on the article’s list, but it is my very favorite audio tool that you can get for FREE: http://www.nch.com.au/wavepad

WavePad (Windows/Mac) is an excellent audio editor for both Mac and PC. It offers many features and has very straight forward user interface. It works with lots of audio formats (WAV, MP3, AIFF, MP-4, Audio, RAW, etc.). It’s easy to understand how to edit and correct your audio, it has great video tutorials and “how to” links build to the interface so you will not get lost. It’s not easy to find a free version of the software, but you can get one from the NCH Software website if you look for it hard enough. Normal version of WavePad has free trial period of 14 days, then asks you to pay around $100. I was able to find free one that is not a demo version. Enjoy!

“The free version does not expire and includes most of the features of the normal version. If you are using it at home, you can download the free version here. You can always upgrade to the master’s edition at a later time, which has additional effects and features for the serious sound engineer.”

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x by Monica Marlo 2 weeks ago

Looking forward to the updated mobile audio tools roundup post, Andre! Also glad you added WavePad to the list, one of my favorites for quick and simple editing.

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