I know that many of us are needing to consider how best to record digitally the oral assessments within the new GCSE and decide what additional equipment to buy. I spent some (considerable!) time on looking at different models and ways to record some time ago and we have been using them with lots of classes at KS3 and KS4 for classroom use. Recently a colleague conducted the first orals in our department and put them through their paces. I tweaked the instructions that I'd put together for students in the light of her experiences to make them appropriate for the rest of the teachers in our department, who are just about to do orals. I know that there are a zillion possible devices that do this job and do it well, but from our experience in the department I can recommend these 3 devices/methods.
1. Audacity plus external USB mic
Audacity is free software that you download simply and easily. You will also need an extra piece of software called the LAME encoder that you also download. There are some very clear instructions for Audacity all over the web and Joe Dale's blog has the answers to most things Audacity, especially if you want to do more with it than just record an oral. But, if all you want to do is download it, record oral exams, then save the files as MP3, here are some Download Audacity_instructionsthat I put together with only this minimum detail.
To record the oral you would use a computer with Audacity installed plus an external USB microphone. We use a
Logitech USB Desktop Microphone available from Amazon, price currently £17.65.
2. Olympus Digital Recorder (
Digital Voice Recorder)
This recorder is available from Amazon (currently costs
£56.47) and uses AAA batteries. It is good quality sound and records up to 17 hours MP3. It is very easy to use and pulls apart to give you a USB input. Olympus make lots of different digital recorders ranging from about £20 to £200+. I am sure that you could go lower spec than this one and still have good enough quality (I do know someone who has a £30 ish Olympus and says it's perfectly good enough) but this is one model that we have in the department and it works well. I have put the instructions below as I can't upload again all of a sudden!
Using the Olympus Digital RecorderRecording
1. On the left-hand side of the device the lower switch should always be pushed down (towards ‘voice’).2. To turn the device on, push the upper switch down (away from ‘hold’).3. To start recording press ‘REC’ (on the right-hand side of the device). 4. Press ‘STOP’ to stop (!). You can listen to your recording using ‘PLAY’. 5. The sound quality of this playback is not as good as it will be when transferred to a computer.6. If you forget to turn it off (to ‘hold’) then it automatically turns off after a couple of minutes. To turn it back on you need to flick it to ‘hold’ and then down again.Changing the battery:1. Ensure the ‘hold’ button is pushed up.2. Gently slide the cover on the bottom of the device across. The battery will fall out. There is a picture on the back of the device to show which way up the new battery should go.
Transferring files to a computer
1. Ensure the ‘hold’ button is pushed up.
2. Hold the device over a surface (it is easy to drop it). 3. Hold down the ‘release’ button (on the back of the device) and pull the two ends (top and bottom) apart. Plug the top part into the USB socket of your computer.
4. Voice recordings are stored in the folder: DSS_FLDA
5. The device holds approx 17 hours of voice recordings.
6. When reassembling the device carefully ensure the grooves are aligned.
3. Easispeak microphone & digital voice recorder
We also use these in the department. You order them on the web from EasiSpeak and they record in either MP3 or WAV formats and are also easy to use. For the recent orals, (as they were the first!), we used Audacity + external Logitech mic but used an Easispeak mic as a backup so we 'double-recorded' as a back-up, just in case anything went wrong. They cost £25 but are cheaper if bought in bulk. As I suddenly can't upload for some reason (again!) here are the instructions.
Using the EasiSpeakdigital microphone
•Switch on by sliding ON-OFF switch until the Status LED lights orange–this means it is on standby
•If the orangelight is flashingthis means you are ready to record in MP3 mode (this is what you want)
•if the orangelight is constantthis means you are ready to record in WAV mode (NB: Press the * ‘snowflake’ button to change the mode from WAV to MP3)
•Press and release the red record button and the Status LED lights red to show that it is recording
•Speak (for at least 2 seconds)
•When finished the recording, press the red record button again. Status LED lights orange
•Press the green play button to hear your recording. The Status LED lights greenwhile recording plays.It can be useful to blue tack the bottom of the micand fix it upright on the desk top.Transferring files to a computer
•Take the black cap off the bottom of the microphone to find the USB
•Plug it into your computer
•Your recordings are saved automatically into the folder called MIC_REC
•It is important to rename these recordings and save them to your place on the school network and back them up too.