This evening at The Gaylord-Pickens Museum in Oklahoma City members of our staff hosted a group of Girl Scouts who are working on their heritage badge requirements. I taught a “station” in our classroom focused on “Getting Started with Oral History Interviews.” I created a short, 1 page PDF handout for our brief sessions together which lasted about 25 minutes each. The five steps for recording and sharing an oral history interview online I related are:

  1. Select Your Story Subject and Prepare
  2. Interview Questions and Tips
  3. Use a Digital Audio Recorder
  4. Edit Your Audio Recording
  5. Share Your Story Online

Some of these steps are similar to those included in OETA’s “World War II Stories Interview Guide.” (PDF) In addition to providing interview tips, however, I also addressed using free Audacity software to edit recorded interviews and publishing finished interviews on The Internet Archive.

I am thrilled to now have a mobile podcasting lab to use for workshops like this!

Toolfactory Mobile Podcasting Lab

We ordered it from ToolFactory, and it includes 15 Olympus WS-321M digital audio recorders. Like the Olympus WS-110 model we use in our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices Phase 1 workshop for teachers, the WS-321M is battery operated (1 AAA battery) and plugs directly into the USB port of a Macintosh or Windows computer. I love the fact that it does NOT require a cable to connect. It does record in Windows Media Audio (WMA) format, however (as does the WS-110.) That requires a quick conversion into AIFF or WAV format before importing the file into Audacity for editing. In our workshops with teachers we use free Switch software, and that is the link I provided on tonight’s handout. I used QuickTime Pro software to do my demo conversions tonight, however, because it is faster and I have it installed on my laptop. (QT Pro is not free, however, although it is very reasonably priced at around $30.)

Each portable digital audio recorder in the podcasting kit also comes with a lapel echo-cancelling microphone which can be used to record even higher quality audio during interviews.

Olympus WS-321M recorder and lapel mic

We didn’t use the lapel mic tonight, but I am looking forward to using them in the future.

Go Girl Scouts! I hope many of the girls and parents in attendance tonight purchase their own digital audio recorder and record some family oral history interviews over the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays!

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