If These Walls Could Talk

Every once in a while I’ll get a brainstorm. Well this isn’t exactly a brain “storm” but it might qualify as a brain “shower” or maybe a brain “drizzle”.

This particular bit of mental precipitation comes about as a result of combining three different tools. It’s one of those, “If I take something I made with THIS, put it here using THAT, then I can get one of THESE and THAT would be REALLY COOL” moments.  If you’re confused already, please keep reading. All will be explained in due time, but first let me share the story that brought about THIS, THAT, and THE OTHER THING.

It started with our 6th grade Basic Computer Skills class. To teach the kids how to use Audacity (THIS #1 in this formula) they decided to promote Read Across America day by recording themselves reading popular primary grade books from our library. These recordings will be burned to CD to so our 1st and 2nd graders can listen to their 6th grade buddies read the book to them. Many the recordings these students created were quite good. Some used the “change pitch” feature in Audacity to create voices for the characters. (See my post on Interview an Elf) Others added sound effects to add to the drama of the story.

While this was going on I came across a post on twitter from @shaunaaltman wondering if there was a way to create audio files that would play when you scanned a QR Code. Do you think you know where I’m going with this?

If you take an mp3, way, aiff, or other type of audio file created in Audacity or any other audio editing program and post it online where it can be accessed via a URL (hyperlink), you can also take that link and convert it a QR code. When that QR code is scanned by a reader app, most smart phones and mobile devices will just play the sound automatically.

So, I’ve got an mp3 file. How do I post it online? Enter THAT #2. There are several different options for doing THAT.

1) Save the file in your Public Folder on Dropbox.
2) Post the file to Posterous
3) Use a podcasting tool like Chirbit or AudioBoo to post a file online.

Once the file is online, copy the link (URL) to that file and use an online QR Code Generator  (THE OTHER THING). There are many different options out there for doing this as well.

One way to do THIS is to use goo.gl

NOTE: You must be signed in to your Google Account to do THIS.

Don’t have a Google Account? Or don’t want to login? There are countless other free online QR code generators out there. Here’s one that not only lets you generate QR codes, but it also lets you make them “cute”: Beautiful QR Codes

When you have one of THESE QR Codes on your screen, you can right-click, copy image, and paste the image in any word processing document for printing. Once the code is printed you can do all sorts of things with it. Here’s where my brain started storming.

For our book project, we could take the QR Codes linking to the student recordings and tape them to the inside covers of the books. Parents with smart phones could use their smart phones so their children could listen along to their sixth grade buddies read the story to them.

But there are so many other possiblities…

  • Place QR Codes around your school to create an audio tour. That plaque on the gym wall dedicated to that guy could explain who he was and why he has a plaque there. The mural created by the class of 2012 could have the kids from that class telling how and why they made it. The drinking fountain could explain where the water you are drinking is comes from – if you really want to know?
  • Does your school have student leadership elections? Imagine using QR codes to create talking campaign posters.
  • Teachers could add sound to their bulletin boards – a weekly extra credit challenge or hints to last night’s homework.

I could go on, but instead I’d like you to ponder the possibilities instead. Got any other cool ideas? Add a comment and share your thoughts.

Additional Resource:

If you’d like more info on how to use Audacity to create creative recordings here’s a tutorial: How to Make a Podcast

5 thoughts on “If These Walls Could Talk”

  1. 1- you reminded me about Booktracks apps. The take stories and add a soundtrack of fx and mood music that changes as you progress through the story. You can adjust the speed of fx tracking to match your reading speed. Most are free.
    2- y’all already shared on your fbook page, but qrvoice.net not only immediately speaks text you entered for qr, but you have multiple languages to choose from when generating the code.
    3- knowing that most qr readers only read about 70% of the code, there are some fun art/graphic design projects with adding small art into the qr codes.

    Great post Dennis! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I’ve recently been trying to figure out how to add audio to a QR code for our “Read the Room” activities in Kindergarten. Wouldn’t it be cool to have the students record their answer to the little clues “hidden” around the room, then check their answer using a QR code. It would be even better if I could combine text and audio in one QR code for them, but I haven’t been able to figure that one out. Maybe I’ll just put two QR codes in each place, one for the clue and one with audio feedback. I found your link by reading Jennifer’s post. Thanks for sharing. Wish I could have been able to attend EdCampLA.

  3. Thanks Janice. I was happy I was able to make it at least for the last session at EdCampLA. If you want to add text to the audio, consider posting a video link where the images contain the text for the audio. You could do this by adding audio to a Keynote presentation and exporting a Quicktime Movie. I think Garageband also lets you create video podcasts. If you upload to Youtube or a similar service, the QR Codes you create could just link to the video. Have fun playing.

  4. Thanks, Dennis. Doing a video is a great idea. Why didn’t I think of that! I can’t wait to record the students and take pictures of their work for part of our bulletin board display in the office. I wonder if anyone will scan the codes. I’ll send a picture if I get it done.

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