Stuff to Consider

I’m wondering how I can work with the new media center in the library to give students a better experience working with sound. I re-learning Audacity today, and I’m thinking we would really benefit from use of some equipment such as:

  • M Audio Fast Track or some
  • Microphones with USB
  • Turntable with USB

Problems I’m having in Audacity:

  • cannot import Mp3. no trouble with itunes file or wav.
  • cannot check or adjust levels of microphone volume on toolbar at top. don’t know if there is anywhere else to do it.


Activity Ideas for Multimodal Writing Class

3 Modes of Sound:

Have students go outside and listen to sounds and write down what they hear. Then they come back in and we write down the sounds on the board. Then ask students to put the sounds in categories, before sharing the 3 modes of sound: casual, semantic and reduced.

Explain that sounds are usually described based on causation: dog barking, car screeching breaks, etc. Ask students to go back outside and record sounds without referring to causation.

Wrapping up: point out that it’s important to think about sound as more than causality because sound is often used in media for their semiotic connotations, affect, timbre, color, etc.

I got this idea from Karen Collins’ amazing article, Sound Design for Media.

Sonic Mood Board

Show students a visual mood board so that they get the gist of what this is and how it works. Then show them where to get free sound effects and ask them to create a sonic mood board. Each student could be assigned an emotion, or choose an emotion, but we wouldn’t want every student doing the same one. Students who present the sound board in any form. I should check and see if they can insert the sounds on their blogs?

In Collins’ piece, she teaches students to create effects before doing this assignment. She has a good example in the piece of a sonic board that seems to portray urgency and fear, like the sound of an ambulance. These sounds are layered. I’m not sure how easy it will be teach students to import the sounds and add effects.

During the next class period, students would have to guess the emotion portrayed.

Story through Sound Effects

This might be going a bit too far for our purposes as it seems like it would take at least a week, but I could ask students to create a story based on one of 5 different narratives (arrive home, dog barking, vase breaks OR walking down street, start to cross, almost hit by a car, etc).

***Need a lesson on creating your own sounds. Need a device that will allow them to record sound accurately and without outside noises…

Ideas for Multimodal Writing Class

I’m teaching ENG 491: Multimodal Writing for the first time this Spring, and I’m looking for examples of good multimodal compositions and thinking about assignments that might draw on those examples.

Daniel Kolitz’s, The Data Drive

As far as multimodal compositions go, The Data Drive excels as an argument, and its execution is uncomplicated enough not only for students to navigate, but to model their own work on: with some paper, scissors, a scanner and a little bit of html (and yes, ingenuity), any number of webtexts can be parodied, critically dissected and argued in a unique way.

This gives me an idea…I could use this as an example of parodying a website and ask students to then create a parody of a site of their choice and write up an analysis.The problem is that to make it look polished and to be functional, you need HTML knowledge. I don’t think any blog is going to let you create something that looks like this or functions in this way–or in any way that would really look good:(


Paul Ford’s, What is Code?

“What Is Code?” exemplifies the best of webtext capabilities by using a range of textual features—linguistic, visual, interactive, collaborative–to enact the argument that it’s important to understand software code.

An assignment might be: create a webtext where you explain how to do something you (and maybe not many others) know how to do.

This is presented in a blog form, as it was published on and is a journalistic writing. Unlike The Data Drive, the formatting of this could be achieved with a blog. However, what is cool about it is all the animations (I think they are animations) that SHOW how what the author is saying is true. Without these multimodal examples, the piece would be dry–and feel incomplete. So this assignment might end up being a bunch of text with a few still pictures, maybe even a video, or through a series of workshops, it could end up working well…