Earlier this year I wrote about asking my seventh grade students to interview family members, asking them what they thought the news was supposed to do. I described how a novice like me was able to figure out how to weave separate interviews together into an audio montage with several student and parent voices. I also predicted that if I decided to teach students how to edit and design their own podcasts, there would most likely be students in the room who could teach me a thing or two about audio production.
Turns out I was right.
In my second go-around with this assignment, one of my seventh graders (I’ll call him he) recorded an interview with his older brother, a college student and alumnus of our school. I was so impressed with the interview, with the responses he received from his brother, and with the clarity and pacing of the audio. After telling him how impressed I was, he told me that he edited the interview using Audacity to smooth out the conversation. I share the recording here with permission from the interviewer, his older brother, and their parents:
I asked this student to write a short reflection about his process. This is what he came back with:
First, I took my headset (you can use anything you want) and recorded my voice. Then I gave the headset to my brother and recorded his voice. I did that over and over. Second, I listened to the audio and highlighted the sections I thought needed to change. I played it, and If it did not work, I deleted the change. I did that through the entire audio recording. Later, after I did all the changes, I gave it to my brother(or anyone else) and asked if it sounded like a robot. He later gave me feedback, and I changed it up and sent it to you. This is how I edited the audio recording, and I hope this helped you.
This reflection did indeed help me. I’ve tried learning how to use Audacity in the past. As user-friendly as it’s supposed to be, it proved too complex for me. Ocenaudio was a relative piece of cake. This student confirmed my assessment that many of our students already know how to do this stuff. What a boon! If I try to teach students how to edit their own podcasts (those who don’t already know how), he could co-teach this lesson. Heck, he can take the whole thing.
The conversations that come up while producing podcasts with students is where it gets interesting (important, even): Before we record someone, do we need to ask permission? Do we ask permission before sharing? Why? If we altered an interview, editing it for clarity or narrative force, did we maintain its integrity? Is the subject represented respectfully and in a manner that upholds our common dignity? If this piece lives online forever, what do we want to think about before sharing?
Do these questions encourage positive friction of students’ participation in our media landscape? Maybe. Maybe not. I think it’s worth making time for these conversations. As media producers, all of us, what do we owe each other? What do we owe ourselves? What kind of stories do we want to tell?
In contrast to the montage I assembled in Part 1, I really enjoy listening to one interview between two people. What a rich exchange happening between brothers here.
(Adventures in Podcasting Part 1, 2)