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