Katie Ash‘s July 12, 2009, article for Education Week’s Digital Directions magazine, “Digital Voice Recorders Turn Students Into Interviewers,” includes several quotations from Don Wilson, director of instructional technology for Mid-Del Schools in Oklahoma as well as yours truly, concerning Storychasers and our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices project. Katie did a GREAT job with her quotations in this article. (If you’ve been interviewed previously by news media, you know this can be a rare thing.)

Under the heading “Emotion and Expression” in the article, Katie wrote:

Don Wilson, the instructional-technology director for the 14,600-student Midwest City-Del City schools east of Oklahoma City, participated in the Celebrate Oklahoma Voices project.

“It’s really about the information skills that kids gain,” he says. “It’s exactly the opposite of your typical textbook assignment.”

The project also gave teachers a chance to teach students the ethical way to use the tools, says Wilson, such as not recording other people without their permission and how to respect copyright laws when putting together a multimedia presentation.

“One of our main concerns was educating students on the appropriate use of these tools,” he says.

Katie also included several quotations from me in her article, writing:

Digital voice recorders are a good example of how technology can become a tool for creating content, says Wesley Fryer, a co-founder and the executive director of Story Chasers, a multi-state, nonprofit initiative that supports student and teacher citizen journalism.

“The technology is the easy part,” says Fryer. “It’s not hard to show folks how to use the recorder. What is most challenging is the interview process.”

Story Chaser’s principal project, Celebrate Oklahoma Voices, encourages students across Oklahoma to archive and share local oral histories.

“When you interview a grandparent, neighbor, or relative and ask them to tell you part of their life story, you have that chance to hear it and maybe write a paper about it,” says Fryer. “And if you can record it with audio, there’s so much value, from a family standpoint, but then also of course also from a historical standpoint.”

Katie also wrote:

The audio element of digital voice recorders in particular is motivating to students and captures an extra layer of creativity and expression to student work, says Fryer.

“There’s some magic to the human voice. There’s emotion and expression,” he says. “There’s a level of communication that you can convey with recorded audio that you don’t get when you just read someone’s text that they’ve written.”

But perhaps the greatest advantage of digital voice recorders is that they create learner-centered lessons, Fryer says.

“If we want kids to have meaningful experiences in schools, … we need the students actively creating content, not just being passive and listening to the teacher,” he says. “Digital audio recorders empower individuals to be active in their learning.”

Let’s hear it for empowering digital witnesses to constructively use media in the preservation of local history! Many thanks to Katie Ash and Digital Directions Magazine for writing this article!

Fellow ADEs Larry Anderson and Eva LaMar are also quoted in the article. It’s no coincidence: Many of the most creative folks you’ll ever meet in education are Apple users and advocates. I’m honored to be included in that group. 🙂

On the subject of digital voice recorders, we currently include the “Sony Digital Voice Recorder ICD-UX81” in our “digital backpacks” for Celebrate Oklahoma Voices workshops. We used the Olympus WS-110 in the past, but it records in Windows Media Audio (WMA) format that requires conversion to mp3 or WAV with Switch software (free) to edit in Audacity. In contrast, the Sony UX81 records natively in mp3 format and therefore requires no conversion for Audacity: files can be immediately imported and edited. This Sony recorder rocks, but what’s even better are the amazing videos teachers and students are creating in Oklahoma using this and other digital media tools!

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