waveform and caption of The Delivery of Digital Audio Response to Student Texts

The Delivery of Digital-Audio Response to Student Texts

John B. Killoran, Long Island University, Brooklyn


In my Computers and Composition article "Reel-to-Reel Tapes, Cassettes, and Digital Audio Media: Reverberations from a Half-Century of Recorded-Audio Response to Student Writing" (Killoran, 2013), I lament that relatively few instructors record audio commentary on their students' drafts, in lieu of writing their comments. The article goes on to analyze more than forty years of generally positive experiences distilled from instructors who had used and published about this method of response, including many who put up with such seemingly cumbersome audio technologies as reel-to-reel tapes and cassettes. Ultimately, the article recommends that other instructors consider adopting, or at least experimenting with, the method.

This webtext follows up on that recommendation by detailing how instructors can adopt the method using digital-audio recording. It does so mindful that most instructors are likely already very experienced in responding to student texts through other methods, such as by writing or typing their comments, or conferencing with students. What most obviously distinguishes these other methods from digital-audio response is our different choice of tools, formats, and communication channels: pencil or microphone, text on paper or audio in an MP3 file, face-to-face or online.

These choices fall within the purview of the classical rhetoric canon of delivery. Originally limited to how rhetors use their voice and body, delivery has been revived in recent times in response to the diverse and complex resources by which contemporary rhetoric is mediated. The canon is now more broadly conceived to encompass all the communication tools, formats, and channels that mediate our rhetoric.

To adapt delivery to the complexities of the digital age, James E. Porter (2009) has proposed for digital delivery a more robust framework, consisting of five dimensions: body/identity, distribution/circulation, access/accessibility, interaction, and economics (p. 208). Adopting and slightly re-ordering Porter's framework, this webtext explores over five sections how each of these dimensions can guide us in "delivering" digital-audio response:

  1. Economics — the non-monetary value of recorded-audio response, and an open-source option to mitigate the monetary investment;
  2. Body — instructors' approaches and attitudes to their oral performances, and instructions on how to digitally record and edit one's own oral performance;
  3. Distribution — challenges and possible solutions for distributing and retrieving digital-audio files in a timely manner;
  4. Access — challenges and possible solutions for students to access and use large digital-audio files, and instructions on how to optimize those files;
  5. Interaction — advantages of students' interactivion with recorded-audio responses, evidence of such interactivity, facilitating such interactivity, and reaching higher levels of interactivity.

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