Learning in Hand Podcast #23: Collecting & Organizing Voice Memos

Learning in Hand Podcast Episode #23: Collecting & Organizing Voice Memos explains how to sync voice memos from an iPod, iPod touch, or iPhone. Using Smart Playlists in iTunes, see how students and teachers can sync and automatically organize recordings. This process is essential in classrooms where teachers collect reading fluency samples, student reflections, and podcast segments.

Download, watch on YouTube or Vimeo, or view in iTunes all 6 minutes 12 seconds of Episode #23 for tips, how-tos, and ideas for collecting and organizing voice memos.

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Download the handouts mentioned in the episode:

Syncing with iTunes Handout
Emailing to Posterous Handout


This is the Learning in Hand Podcast. I'm Tony Vincent and this is the show where I share tips, how-tos, and ideas for handhelds in teaching and learning. Episode 23, “Collecting and Organizing Voice Memos” recorded August 2010, happens now!

iPod, iPod touch, and iPhone have the the ability to record voice memos. If your iPod doesn't have a built-in microphone, you can attach one like the Blue Mikey, Thumbtacks, or earbuds with mic.

I covered lots of information and uses for voice recording in Episode #14. There are many occasions where teachers want students to record audio. Whether it's to assess reading fluency, share reflections, record segments for a podcast, document a field trip, record a musical performance, or archive a discussion or interview, the teacher will most likely want to transfer the recording from the device to computer for listening and sharing.

Voice Memos can be transferred to iTunes by syncing. When synced, a Voice Memos playlist will appear if you don't already have one. All recordings are placed in this folder. By default, recordings are named by the date and time the recording started.

Once copied to iTunes, the recording is in two places: iTunes and the handheld. If you delete a voice memo on the handheld, it isn't deleted from the Voice Memos playlist in iTunes. But, if you delete a voice memo from iTunes, it is deleted from iPod touch the next time you sync.

That Voice Memos playlist isn't well organized. All you is see the date, time, and length of the recording. This is no good for the teacher who is collecting reading fluency samples--or collecting any kind of recordings. I'd like to show you how to use Smart Playlists in iTunes to automatically sort Voice Memos into playlists for each student. This makes it easy for teachers and students to find their own work.

First, set up a Smart Playlist for each student:

  1. Choose New Smart Playlist from the File menu.
  2. Set the rule to Artist contains and the student?s name. Click OK.
  3. Complete the steps above for each student.
  4. For each smart playlist, click View Options from the View menu. Remove all checkmarks except Artist, Time, and Comments.
  5. When a voice memo is added and Artist is changed to the student?s name, it will automatically appear in the student?s smart playlist.

So then here's how it works:

  1. A student records using the Voice Memos app on iPod touch. The student should say his or her name at the beginning of the recording.
  2. Connect to the computer. The recording should appear in iTunes? Voice Memos playlist. You may have to click Yes if a dialog box appears asking if you would like to copy voice memos to your iTunes library.
  3. Select the Voice Memos playlist.
  4. Click View Options from iTunes? View menu. Checkmark Artist and Comments and click OK. Also select as List from the View menu. (These actions only have to be done once).
  5. Play the recording and listen for the student?s name. Press Pause and click the recording?s Artist. Change the Artist to the student?s name. Be consistent about spelling and whether you use last names or initials.
  6. Optionally, click under Comments to add any additional information about the recording.
  7. You may delete the items in the Voice Memos playlist after you have added Artist information. This way the Voice Memos playlist shows only recordings that have not yet been tagged with a student?s name.
    You can place your smart playlists into a folder. Create a folder by choosing New Playlist Folder from the File menu. Name the folder. Then drag and drop each student?s playlist onto the folder. This is really handy for computers that are shared among multiple classes.

Having sorted recordings is helpful for collecting portfolio artifacts, grading, and easy access for students to incorporate into their projects.

There are of course variations to the process I've shown you. For example, if only one student uses each iPod, you can name each iPod the same as the student. When synced, the iPod's name is shown in the Artist's field and will automatically sort without you having to listen for a name.

Another way to collect and organize recording is to have student email from their iOS handheld to Posterous. Watch episode #21 for more info. At learninginahand.com/23 you'll find a handout with the steps for using Posterous for collecting student-made recordings. You'll also find a handout with the steps for setting up Smart Playlists like I've shown in this episode.

That's it for Episode 23. For a transcript and much more about iPods, iPads, and podcasting, click on over to learnininginhand.com. Thanks for watching!