Sunday, April 11, 2010


Audio in ePortfolios

Mobile devices are great at capturing the moment: audio reflection, video clip, text comment. I'm not sure they are good at organizing all of the data into a coherent presentation. It would be interesting to have an app that would show me the videos that I have uploaded to YouTube, or the blog entries I have written, or the audio clips I have stored online.

Audio is the major void in the space. We can use Aviary's Myna to capture and store audio, and give a link or embed code. But I think you need a desktop computer to use that tool. I wonder if Aviary is planning an App? The Aviary tools are now available as a menu in my Firefox browser and can be embedded into GoogleApps. Of course, if the software is based on Flash, it won't work on an iPad. I have AudioBoo on my iPhone (but haven't used it yet... maybe that is the solution?).

Here is are two common situations with a need for easy audio recording and embedding:
There is a need for a web-based version of using audio this way (requiring just a microphone and Internet connection). I also think we need an easy way to record reflections. Before students can easily write, they can talk. How can we manage all of these audio files in an online repository, all dated and organized for easy retrieval, and embedding into a blog or ePortfolio page? Can it be made easy enough for a Kindergarten student to manage, but still sophisticated enough for adult learners? Just dreaming... and hoping.
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Sunday, January 17, 2010


My Wish List for Audio in Google Docs

Now that we can Upload Anything into Google Docs, I have a wish list for more upgrades. I want to be able to embed and play audio files that I store in my Google Docs account, not just download them. As indicated in my last blog entry, I was able to embed an uploaded MP3 on a Google Sites page, but it wasn't easy. I'm looking for a gadget to embed stored audio as easily as embedding a YouTube video. I want Google Docs to generate an embed code, not just a link to download an MP3. Or give me a menu item in Google Sites.

I realize there is the potential for copyright abuse with MP3s, but I want to be able to create audio narrations to go along with the other artifacts in a portfolio. Students learning to speak another language need an easy way to capture spoken evidence of their learning. Of course, the user interface is also an issue, since it is usually young children who can talk about their learning before they can write about it... or collect reading samples, now sometimes done with iPods... so it needs to be easy enough for elementary teachers and students to use.

Even better, a built-in tool like Myna would be terrific, that would allow someone to record a narration that would get embedded on a page! The first e-portfolio tool that I ever used (the Grady Profile originally written in Hypercard) had the built-in ability to record audio (specifically reading samples). That was 1991! I don't know of any web-based e-portfolio tool with the ability to capture audio directly (rather than uploading a pre-recorded audio file). Right now, we often use Audacity for recording to our computers, exporting the audio clip to MP3, uploading/embedding the clip into whatever e-portfolio system we are using... a lot of steps. As we move to cloud computing, we need more simple cloud-based tools that don't rely on desktop applications.

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