Last week, I participated in an open forum discussion with Bryan Behrenshausen from Communications and Theatre, Josh Hartranft from the Technology Support Center and Jesse Holden from Library Services. The event was planned as part of Millersville’s theme “Remix the Future, Remake Our World” and the group met to discuss the benefits and challenges of implementing open source software programs. For those of you who might not be familiar with open source software, the term “open source” refers to a process where software is designed, developed, debugged and supported by a cohort of people who volunteer their services simply for the love of it. Open source software is free which, if the software is good, can be really attractive. Besides the economic advantages, however, I really like the open source philosophy and how they view the end-user. In open source software, every user is a participant in the development process. Through their use, any user could suggest new features and help troubleshoot problems. The open source is completely anathema to the big software companies who own and distribute propretiary code, controlling its distribution, use and development tightly. Besides being free, open source software supports open collaboration, creating a system where no one (and everyone) owns the software at the same time.
Because of this discussion, I thought I’d feature an open source application this week called Audacity. Audacity is audio editing software that can be freely downloaded for Macs or PCs. If you’ve ever thought about podcasting, Audacity is the software for you. It is really easy to use. Unlike some other applications I’ve featured, Audacity is not web-based and you have to actually install the software on your computer. Once installed, however, the application is almost as easy to use as a wordprocessor. I use Audacity extensively with my students and find most of the students take to pretty quickly.
Educationally, Audacity has a multitude of uses. An educator can record presentations to share with students in an online class or record a classroom presentation from a face-to-face class to share with absent students. Audacity can also be used for assessment purposes with students creating radio dramas or audio stories instead of writing a paper. Since the software is free and is available on Macs and PCs, students wouldn’t have to invest any extra money to purchase the software for a class.
For a short tutorial on how to use Audacity, check out the YouTube video below.