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Edtechcc Assignment 2: Soundscape January 29, 2012

Posted by IaninSheffield in edtechcc, Tools.
Tags: , , , ,
menin gate

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo by Calotype46: http://flickr.com/photos/calotype46/5883327155/

For almost a dozen years I helped organise a yearly, week-long visit to Belgium with our Year 10s. We invariably stayed near Ieper (or Ypres) and always spent one evening taking in the Menin Gate Ceremony.

I never failed to be moved by the atmosphere generated in this awe-inspiring arch, commemorating those fallen in the local area for whom remains were never recovered. It was to this event I felt drawn when the second assignment was posted:

Sound is a powerful but often forgotten medium. Play sounds at the start of a class and the students’ chatter will fade; they’ll tune in and try to make sense of what they’re hearing.
For this assignment, combine audio effects into a soundscape to represent a place or an event.

Having visited the area so regularly, and having taken in many of the sites significant during the Great War and those which commemorated it afterwards, my idea was to gather a mere few sounds evocative of the period and overlay them on the Last Post – the music played by local buglers, each and every night.

The sound effects were found within two of the recommended sites: Soundbible and Sound FX Now, whilst the last post was taken from a YouTube clip of the actual ceremony. ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ was found on FirstWorldWar.com and the reading came from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s ‘Remember Me‘ site. Finding the right sounds was definitely the most time consuming part of the assignment, but then research often is. Having some familiarity with Audacity, that was my weapon of choice and around an hour’s work pulled all the clips together for uploading to Audioboo – chosen since I already have an account there.

Here then is the finished product:

Although I was already fairly familiar with Audacity and despite only working on a one and a half minute clip, it still represented an hour’s labour. I think this is an important factor to bear in mind when producing edited media of whatever flavour. It will take longer! I guess we have to ask would there be value in spending so long on a similar task with our students? Well I’d argue yes, provided they are not working individually. In discussions during the editing process their learning is enhanced and assuming the task is thoughtfully chosen and introduced , greater meaning and understanding is possible … though I suspect you’ll be unlikely to be able to spare the time to do this in lessons on a regular basis.

What have I learned?

  • How long producing a media file can take!
  • To be aware of the steps I ought to consider for those with hearing impairments, if I’m producing audio output. (Thanks Joan)
  • We rarely focus on our sense of hearing. Working in an audio format encouraged me to think in a different way and consequently exercised my creative and analytical capabilities.
  • That removing the visual input stream occasionally, might help our students to focus in more closely on content and meaning.
  • I’m now even more keenly aware of the time some students give over to preparing video sequences, as alternative presentations for homework.




1. ianinsheffield - January 30, 2012

Heard on BBC Radio 4 this morning that ‘…Tipperary’ was first performed 100 years ago today! What are the odds of that?

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