Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Spoken Word --- Using Microsoft Word Sound Objects

For those students who can express themselves better orally than in writing, Microsoft's Sound Objects, built into Word, can be a life-saver. Sound Objects allow the user to embed voice recordings in Microsoft Word in standard MS Word documents. Besides MS Word, all that is needed is some form of microphone, either built-in or external.
Here's a how-to video showing the method for setting up a toolbar button in MS Word 2003 that will make recording sound objects quick and easy.

Applications in the Classroom (and at home, if the student has MS Word)
The main way students can use Sound Objects is to produce a permanent document (or artifact) in MS Word, even if they ha
ve difficulty with writing. If Jimmy can't write well but has MS Word at home, he can answer (and ask) questions, respond to reading, create stories, etc., orally and end up with a product that better represents what's in his head.

Students with poor memory can brainstorm into a mic to get their pre-writing ideas down.

Teachers can also record instructions or oral prompts using Sound Objects in electronic documents if students have the ability to download from their teacher. This is especially useful for teachers ESL/EFL, French, Spanish, or other foreign languages, who want to provide a pronunciation model to which students can repeatedly refer. However, it also can simply be used as a means of Universal Design for Learning (UDL); by recording written instructions orally, teachers can ensure students can understand the instructions regardless of their reading ability.

I've used Sound Objects for recording the oral portion of educational assessments, such as the WIAT. It's easier to transcribe using the sound player than using a tape recorder.

Students can also get creative and record songs, raps, etc. without the need for additional software.

Limitations
The main limitation is that the recorder stops after 60 seconds, but if it is stopped, each time you push the record button again, you can add on an extra 60 seconds.

Note that this is a voice recorder; it does not transcribe voice to text. Students can't print out Sound objects; they have to share their electronic file with their teacher, and the teacher listens to the recording when it's convenient.

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