In my last blog post – ‘Top tips for sharing audio with learners’ I gave a few tips about how to name and organise audio files to make it easier for the learner and tutor to manage these files. Another thing to consider when using audio, is to make use of the metadata (or ID) options. These really come into play if a learner has transferred the audio clips onto an audio device – as the metadata will help them to organise the files into meaningful folders as well as knowing which audio file is which. This information will then display as the audio is playing, in a similar way to how the track number, track title, artist and album is often displayed when listening to music.
I often use audacity when recording audio clips, and when I export to MP3, I am giving an option of entering this metadata – the image to the right is an example of what I may typically enter (note newer versions of audacity have a slightly different layout to this box, but the information is the same). I use the following protocol for my work:
- Title: A sensible title that makes sense to describe the audio file (this is not the same as the filename)
- Artist: Is myself – and I am always consistent in that I am always ‘Dave Foord’ and never ‘D.Foord’, ‘David Foord’ ‘Dave’,’Shirley’ – as this allows the learners to organise files by artist (tutor)
- Album: Wil be the name of the course – again I need to be consistent, so what I tend to do is have a notepad file saved with this data in it, so that I can copy and paste the text across removing the possibility of slight changes in the way that I have named the course.
- Track Number: If part of a sequence, I will number the file accordingly – if not part of a sequence I just leave as 1
- Year: I enter the year that the course this file is aimed for will end – (not necessarily the year we are in) this helps me know for which academic year this was created for.
- Genre: I don’t use, so leave as the default.
- Comments: Here I can add a brief description about the file – this is really useful when creating lots of audio, as makes it easier the next time that I revisit this course.
This may seem a bit tedious to keep entering this information, but it is worth the few seconds that it takes in the long run as if in the future you want to find a certain file – this data will make it much easier to sort.
If you have already created audio files in the past, or you have created them using other tools, it is possible to edit the metadata later. In Windows if you open up the folder containing the audio files and change the view to ‘Details’ you will see what information is stored for those files – if you right click on one of the column headings you can select which options you want to see (e.g. Artist, Album etc).
To then edit the option, if you right click on the file and choose properties you will be able to change the settings as required.
Audio is a wonderful medium that with the proliferation of smart phones is becoming very easy to create, distribute and access.
In my next blog post, I will talk about the accessibility considerations when using audio.