Tech Tools: Digital Voice RecordersPosted: Thu 02.23.2012
“Nothing has really happened until it has been recorded” – Virginia Woolf
This semester, I have been part of a set of Faculty Development Workshops on Global Citizenship. They have been interesting extracurricular activities allowing me to think about how we can globalize our syllabi and teach that next generation of global leaders. At the same time, they have been interesting escapes during the day that have demanded reading of interesting articles and critical thinking/discussion of our world around us. That being said, today was a busy day, and one where I could not attend my much-enjoyed seminar. I am also a note-taker for those meetings, so the need to get an accurate read on the meeting was not only critical for my own enrichment, but for the ability to post a quality summary for the other participants. This got me thinking about my trusty Sony voice recorder and, regardless of brand or toy, the ease and benefit of using voice recordings for a variety of educational and research purposes. It may sound obvious, but with the number of tools and software available today to facilitate this task, I thought it would be of benefit to write up a post that gave an overview of the many options that are available today.
For some, this is a no-brainer because they prefer to use whatever digital voice recording tool that comes with their smartphone. For that instance, both Android and the iPhone have great applications for this purpose. The Android app simply called “Voice Recorder” boasts nearly 27K reviews and a four-star rating. iTalk Recorder is a highly rated app for those who have an iPhone. Personally, I have been using the aforementioned standalone voice recorder, but I have dabbled with the smartphone apps. All of them do a good job of capture and depending on your needs and phone of choice, you have good options to capture voice recordings.
Side note: While I fear the future for Blackberry, the current built-in recorder is both powerful and accurate. Conversion is pretty easy, too, as you can email yourself the file and convert it into an .mp3 using the FreeStar AMR Converter. I have used this in a pinch quite a few times and it works wonderfully.
For those looking for a way to use the smartphone as a dictation device, I have experimented a bit with the Dragon Dictation App. This has been useful when I have had an idea for a paper or proposal, and didn’t have the time or the pen to write it down. I’ve used the app to get a good head start down on “paper” – digitally – and then emailed the text to myself. I find that I work better when I have a basic start down or some ideas to get me going, so the ability to speak it and email the text has been great for my motivation.
Finally, as I mentioned above, my go-to recording device is my Sony handheld, which I like because it is easily hooked up to the computer to download files, outputs in .mp3 format, and is easy to use with earphones and an auxiliary microphone if needed. The microphone on it captures a good distance and has been helpful in the classroom setting, and the headphone output is helpful for dictation. It’s easy to start and stop the recorder if you are transcribing, and it keeps you from going back and forth between windows if you have the .mp3 playing on the computer. My particular model number is outdated at this point, but there other similar versions available. As graduate students, budgets are usually tight and not everyone has the luck of being able to afford an iPhone, Droid, or even Blackberry. In that instance, the $30-$50 investment in a digital voice recorder can be a great option. There are a large range of voice recorders that have been reviewed on CNET with positive attributes. You can view the list here to find out which ones best match your needs.
I have used the voice recorder and various apps to conduct qualitative interviews, tape lectures, and to dictate beginnings of papers and blog posts. In terms of the many ways in which technology can enhance our practice, this very simple act of voice recording for preservation is a tool for researchers who want to make sure their perceptions and memories of events and data are accurate and complete. Hopefully this blog post has given you the ability to consider that benefit and the many tools that are available to make that happen.