Tuesday, November 25, 2014

2moro I will .... share how to add audio files to Google Sites (#gafesummit)

Our last challenge at the Google Summit was to tweet 2moro I will .....  I thought about this - possibly I could put into practice something that I had leant during the 2 days of the Summit - and then I decided to do something else.  This post is the result of that decision.

A couple of weeks ago one of our teachers had her students make audio files to reflect on their learning.  They used Quicktime Player to record an audio file and then she wanted the students to put their reflection into their ePortfolios - which is a Google Site.  A few days later, one of our language teachers wanted her students to record themselves reciting a poem in Hindi using Voice Memo on the iPads.  The idea was that this would also be added to their ePortfolios.  The problem we found, with both of these, is that the files saved as m4as which caused problems as they did not convert in the students' Google Drive to a file that could be embedded into a Google Site.  In order to deal with this problem, I sent an email out to the Google Certified Teacher group, asking for help.  I got a lot of great responses, so my idea for a 2moro I will .... tweet was to thank my Google group and to share their solutions that I got with everyone else - since I am sure this is a common issue.

The first question that we came across is what exactly is an m4a file?  This was answered by Steve Philp (who was actually a GCT with me in London in 2010) who explained that "m4a files were derived from a format that was originally for video as well as audio, which is why some audio players find them difficult."  Steve suggested renaming the files as mp4 to help audio players.

Another suggestion was to add the files to SoundCloud and get the embed code for the player.  I looked into this and found that to have a SoundCloud account students needed to be over 13.  While I thought this was a good option for older students, it would not work for our elementary kids.

Then there was the suggestion to upload the m4a files to YouTube as audio only files and then link to it.  This also seemed like a great suggestion and an easy one for students from Grade 3 upwards.

Several other suggestions included creating the files as mp3 files.  For this various Chrome apps were suggested by Naomi Harm, such as VoiceRecorder, Audio Recorder, Twisted Wave, the Chrome extension of Screencastify and the storytelling app Narrable.  This is a great idea for making a new audio file, but I was really looking for something I could use with the files we already had (I didn't want to have the students re-record).  There were some options to convert the files online, such as media.io, again I wasn't sure that these would be very user friendly for our Grade 3 students, but I will certainly check these out for our older ones.

Popular gadgets were NiftyPlayer and Ujam, suggested by several of the GTCs who joined in the discussion.  One teacher explained that students used TwistedWave and dowloaded their file as an mp3, then uploaded the attachment to Sites.  They then used the Odeo Flash Player gadget and copied the link from the mp3 attachment.  I thought most of these would be too hard for Grade 3 students however.

To make an audio recording from a phone and send it straight to Drive, the suggestion was that Voice Record Pro is awesome.

So what did I decide to go with after all this?  Well as the students had already made all the audio recordings we decided our best solution would be to upload them to Vocaroo.  This takes up to 5 minutes of audio and students don't need to create accounts.  They simply go to Vocaroo, click upload and navigate to the file they have on their computer (or that they emailed to themselves when using the iPads).  In a few seconds the file uploaded and gave them an embed code.  This works really well when embedded in Google Sites and the player looks much better than a link to something that needs to be downloaded.

So 2moro I will share my learning about how to add audio files to Google Sites.  Done!  And at the same time I have also shared just what an awesome set of educators there are in the GCT group, who have helped me to troubleshoot and solve problems for our students and teachers.  Thanks everyone!

Photo Credit: Skley via Compfight cc

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