Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Wish List for Audio in Google Docs

Now that we can Upload Anything into Google Docs, I have a wish list for more upgrades. I want to be able to embed and play audio files that I store in my Google Docs account, not just download them. As indicated in my last blog entry, I was able to embed an uploaded MP3 on a Google Sites page, but it wasn't easy. I'm looking for a gadget to embed stored audio as easily as embedding a YouTube video. I want Google Docs to generate an embed code, not just a link to download an MP3. Or give me a menu item in Google Sites.

I realize there is the potential for copyright abuse with MP3s, but I want to be able to create audio narrations to go along with the other artifacts in a portfolio. Students learning to speak another language need an easy way to capture spoken evidence of their learning. Of course, the user interface is also an issue, since it is usually young children who can talk about their learning before they can write about it... or collect reading samples, now sometimes done with iPods... so it needs to be easy enough for elementary teachers and students to use.

Even better, a built-in tool like Myna would be terrific, that would allow someone to record a narration that would get embedded on a page! The first e-portfolio tool that I ever used (the Grady Profile originally written in Hypercard) had the built-in ability to record audio (specifically reading samples). That was 1991! I don't know of any web-based e-portfolio tool with the ability to capture audio directly (rather than uploading a pre-recorded audio file). Right now, we often use Audacity for recording to our computers, exporting the audio clip to MP3, uploading/embedding the clip into whatever e-portfolio system we are using... a lot of steps. As we move to cloud computing, we need more simple cloud-based tools that don't rely on desktop applications.


ME said...

Hi Helen.

This is very exciting news but I don't see this functionality for my personal Google account or our Google Apps for Ed accounts. Is it just available for Enterprise clients?


Nick Noakes said...

Helen, have you tried doing this through voicethread and then embedding that code in your google site, which would also allow audio commenting.

Shaun Wood said...

I tried "Readers Theater" last year and found oral work very powerful, I used Audacity to record. However I have found an answer to your audio in

It allows you to record directly from the internet without any signup hassles and embed or link the file. It works with Google Sites and Wikispaces.

Hope this helps, I hope to be using audio & Sites this year too.

Helen Barrett said...

Heather, be patient. Google indicated that it would take up to two weeks to fully roll out this capability to all users... I have a regular GMail Google account, and "Upload Any File" was activated on the 16th (yesterday).

Nick, I want an embedded audio file that will just play on a Google Sites page, not link out to another website. I've also found that the volume in VoiceThread can be too low, and I can't figure out how to adjust it.

Shaun, thanks for the suggestion. I'll try

Nick Noakes said...

Voicethread embed works exactly the same as YouTube embed which you mention in the post i.e. will play in the page, no need to go out if you just play audio rather than add. does look promising for something much lighter.

doc said...

I love what you are doing. Could you tell me how to make my "comments" interactive on Googlesites? I can leave one when I'm signed in, but not when visiting my site.By the way, the learning page...Great idea! I would never have guessed how important that could be.

sguilana said...

Hi Helen!
I agree entirely with your wish to embed audios as easily as videos on a google site or blogger for that matter...
I asked for it in the google blog for students a year ago approx but got no reply from google. My students have sometimes problem in the whole process of getting an embed for their spoken evidence, it's true.
Divshare has proved totally reliable so far.

My new favourite tool, though is an iphone app called audioboo. you record your voice in an astounding high quality and directly publish it into the web of, where they give you the embed code straight away. If you sign in the web, all your recordings are in your account. If not, it's just a container for anonymous audio, with the embed and link to share.
Both possibilities are really useful to use audio in the classrooom, in particular foreign languages, as it is our case.

mathematician said...

Hi Helen. I was reading "How to Simple Digital Stories" site and came here. I wanted to tell you about a web-based live audio recording & sharing service called 321 that I am working on. It does not have embed feature yet, but uploading audio is very easy. It uses combination of web & phone. Works with regular phone, don't need any app installs.

I hope you will have a chance to test it out. I would love to hear your opinion as the expert in the field.

- Naoki

differentone said...

I agree with you Helen. I'm using my site to publish my classroom lessons, and want to include the lecture audio. I have recorded class and uploaded the mp3 file, but now my students can't access it. This is functionality that is really needed in a google gadget.