I learned the following trick today from Maria Henderson in a presentation she shared in Oklahoma City at an Apple event. I included this in my notes from her session, “Learning with Apple: New Content, New Connections, New Communities,” but thought I’d share this again in a separate post for those who didn’t see it in the longer one. This is a great digital magic trick!
For any student having trouble reading material on a screen, text-to-speech technologies can be wonderful. My March 2008 post, “Converting text to and from speech for accessibility and convenience” addressed some of the software options available today for text to speech functionality. Of those, “CLiCk, Speak” is probably the main one to check out. It’s cross-platform, works in the FireFox browser as a plug-in, and is free.
In addition to those text-to-speech options, the latest version of the Macintosh operating system (OS 10.6 “Snow Leopard”) includes the built-in ability to convert highlighted text in many applications into an audio file. Here is an example of a file I created while writing this post, of this paragraph.
To create the above recording in iTunes, I simply highlighted the previous paragraph, control clicked it to reveal the contextual menu, and chose “Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track.” Mac OS 10.6 creates this as an AAC file, not an mp3 file, so I did have to convert it (again using iTunes) to make the mp3 file which is embedded above.
Here are the steps you need to follow to enable this functionality on a Mac computer running OS 10.6 Snow Leopard.
In your active application or in the Finder, select SERVICES – SERVICES PREFERENCES
Then under TEXT click the checkbox for ADD TO ITUNES AS A SPOKEN PODCAST
Now that you have the preference setting changed, in the Preview application you can highlight text, control click it, and choose ADD TO ITUNES AS A SPOKEN PODCAST:
This is a really great trick! Many thanks to Maria for showing this to us during her presentation. Yet another example of the multimedia power of Apple computers!
If you’re interested in learning how I embedded the above mp3 audio file into this blog post, read “Embedding mp3 audio files with a free flash player in Moodle, a wiki or a blog” from September 2008. That’s the code I used after uploading my mp3 file from iTunes to my web host using CyberDuck.
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- YouTube video by Willow Smith goes viral, leads to recording contract #cmtc10 - 2010
- Digital Citizenship for our Schools @alicebarr #cmtc10 - 2010
- 6 Word Stories About 21st Century Learning and The Power Law #21c6w - 2009
- Digital tools to analyze the President's speech on Afghanistan - 2009
- Comparing oral fluency at ages 4 and 5, discussing sausage ball cooking - 2008
- Our Oklahoma Digital Learning Team (ODLT) Hawaii 2007 Adventures begin - 2007