In early November 2020, Dr. Maggie Laidlaw and Marcus Nicolson organised 3 podcast workshops for our VOLPOWER volunteers from across Europe. A number of our planned activities in 2020 had been postponed due to the impact of COVID-19 and Maggie and Marcus were eager to find ways to engage with our volunteers online.
Blogpost by Dr Maggie Laidlaw and Marcus Nicolson, Glasgow Caledonian University
Both worked together with digital media trainer Barbara Weidmann to structure a series of workshops that would cover the basics of sound recording and sound editing. The objective being that we would ask volunteers to create mini-podcasts which would be shared online in the final session.
In the first session, volunteer coordinators were joined by VOLPOWER volunteers from Austria, Croatia, Italy, Malta, and the UK. Barbara got everyone thinking creatively about sound and offered many tips on how to record without interference. She recommended covering microphones with a sock and wrapping oneself in a blanket to create a ‘soft’ atmosphere for recording voice. Barbra also suggested creating a brief podcast script or plan to help organise the storyline of our podcasts (image 1). This proved to be a very useful tip for some of the group.
In the second session everyone was introduced to audio recording and editing apps/software. Barbara recommended that the use of ‘Voice Record Pro’ (or Anchor) to record via smartphones, and ‘Audacity’, to edit recordings via laptops or home computers (Image 2). All these (app and software) are free to download. Everyone was then given guidance on how to add sound effects, and how to create and edit timelines to formulate a podcast. Finally, Barbara asked everyone to record a mini 3-minute podcasts over the weekend.
On Monday 9th November everyone gathered again, online, to listen to each other’s mini- podcasts (Image 3). It was great to see that everyone had interpreted the task in a different way. Some of the stories shared were personal, while some were more experimental and played with different artistic sounds.
Topics ranged from, self-confidence, rituals, music, poetry and art, to ‘sounds of your landscape’, and the current Covid crisis. Each one was unique and inspirational, and all sounded really rather professional. It was brilliant that so many of our volunteers had engaged with the activity and will be able to use these skills in the future. One of the volunteers commented;
“I loved having the freedom of just speaking without being hesitant”
Overall, there was a sense of intimacy within all of the podcasts. There is something very connecting about listening to another person’s voice (without any visual distractions), and I think everyone left feeling that they had just gotten to know each other a little better.
By Dr Maggie Laidlaw and Marcus Nicolson