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#45-Using Digitized Recordings to Respond to Student Writing

March 31, 2005

LTA Overview

One of the most important interactions with students for professors who assign writing in their courses is the response we provide students. While most professors rely upon written comments in the margins and at the end of the student paper and others prefer to hold one-on-one conferences with their students, another approach is to provide digitized recordings for students.


Jeff Sommers
Professor, English
Director, Center for Teaching and Learning / Miami University Middletown

In five minutes of recorded response, a professor can supply the equivalent of 2.5 pages of double-spaced typewritten commentary. Thus, the recorded response can be more expansive, more detailed, and more explanatory. It is possible to focus remarks on specific passages or on the entire paper. It is also possible to reflect on a student’s progress by comparing the current work with previous work. Students perceive the digitized comments to be more convenient, more personal, and often clearer. While recorded commentary is particularly well suited to formative response designed to assist students in revising a draft in progress, it is also useful in providing summative response as well.

LTA Outcomes

Upon completion of this LTA, you will be able to create an MP3 audio file in response to a student paper and will be able to deliver the file via email, course website, or CD-ROM.

Skills Required to Complete This LTA

No special skills are required. You need a familiarity with the media player of your choice and with your institution’s e-mail and course website software.

Software and Hardware Required to Complete this LTA

Macintosh users will need to download Audio Recorder (freeware), available at:

Audio Recorder requires Mac OS X 10.1 or higher, QuickTime 6.5.2 or greater, 500 MHz G3 or faster.

PC users can insert audio comments in MSWord files using the reviewing toolbar. See directions for doing this by clicking on the link that appears below:

Another alternative is to use Audacity for recording audio files. There are versions of Audacity for PC, Macintosh, and Linux operating systems. This freeware may be downloaded at the site shown below:

How to Use Digitized Response

Using the chosen media player, make an MP3 recording, preferably at the lowest quality setting to keep the file size as small as possible. Files can be burned onto CD-R’s for students. Files can also be attached to e-mail messages; generally, students will need broadband Internet connections to download the files in a reasonable period of time. The audio files can also be placed in the Digital Drop-box feature of Blackboard course websites and accessed by students via the website.



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