Adding Audio to Your Course

In order to record audio you will need two things: a recording device and a recording program. In addition, you may need to load your audio file on UM-Flint's streaming server, depending on the size of the file.

Most computers have a built-in recording program but most do not allow for complex audio editing. If you are working in Windows, look in All Programs > Accessories > Sound Recorder. Depending on your version of Windows, the file will be saved as a .Wav or .WMA file, though there are limitations to consider with both formats. WAV files, though high in quality, are uncompressed, and can create very large files for short sound clips. WMA are compressed files, but may not be easily accessible to students using alternative operating systems, such as Mac OS X and Linux.

Windows 7 Sound Recorder

The Windows Sound Recorder interface is relatively straightforward. Notice the buttons along the bottom of the window. When you begin a new recording the only button available is the record button (red circle). Once you have recorded, the rewind, fast forward, play and stop become active. Notice the play head just above the buttons. As you record, the play head will move along the horizontal line. You will also notice the waveforms in the dark box above the play head as you record or playback the audio.

Sound Recorder allows for some basic editing. Using the Effects menu allows for Increasing or Decreasing volume or speed, adding echo and reversing the audio.

Sound Recorder only allows you to save files as (.wav) files. You can put these files directly into Blackboard. However, review the compatibility issues below.

Audacity
Audacity is a free, cross-platform software for recording and editing sound. You can download the software at: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ . Audacity allows for more detailed editing and manipulation of sound. There is a separate help guide for downloading Audacity and saving a file as an MP3 file.

Sound formats and considerations
There are several options for saving audio you want to incorporate into Blackboard.

File type

Extension

Pros

Cons

Waveform

(.wav)

Easy to produce

Large file size

MP3

(.mp3)

Cross-platform
Compressed (small file)

Not streaming

Real Audio

(.rm)

Use for longer sections of audio. Must be put on streaming server. Needs Helix producer to save to this format.

Bulky player

Windows streaming

(.wma)

Streamed content. Good compression format = fast and efficient streaming.

Not as cross-platform compatible

Any sound you add directly to Blackboard (rather than linking to from a streaming server) will require a full download into the user's computer memory before the file will play. Use this Download calculator to find out how long it will take a student using a dial-up connection to access the file.

Adding audio content to Blackboard
The most efficient way to insert audio content is by using the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. On the bottom row of buttons, fifth from the left, there is an "Add audio content"' button (the speaker icon). Click this.

Add audio button on text editor menu

This will give you the pop-up window below:

Browse to locate the audio file on your local machine. If you have the audio file on a streaming server or external server, you can specify the URL.

In the second section you have several audio file options. Auto Start will set the file to play as soon as the page containing the file is displayed. This could be a great way to annotate the contents of a lesson, but you must be careful about where you insert the file since it will automatically start up again every time a student clicks on the section. By selecting Yes on loop, the sound will continue playing at the beginning once the end has been reached. You also have three options for controls: mini, full and none. If you select none, the user will not have any way to play the file.

Once you make the appropriate selections, click Submit. You will receive a confirmation notice on the screen. Click OK and you will return to the "Add Item" screen. You will need to scroll to the bottom and click Submit for the audio to become permanent in the course.

Add Audio page options