Field Recording, the Soundscape and Acoustic Ecology: Design Report

 Part 1. General Course Information

 1.1 Course Title:

This instructional design course document is for the upcoming course “Field Recording, the Soundscape and Acoustic Ecology,” to be delivered by training services through Born Audio.

 1.2 Purpose of the Course:

“Field Recording, the Soundscape and Acoustic Ecology,” is based on creating instruction for field recording with the intention of learning about sonic preservation and acoustic ecology; described as: “the relationship, mediated through sound, between living beings and their environment.”* Soundscape and acoustic ecology is the work pioneered by R.Murray Schafer and the World Soundscape Project (WSP), to the modern day World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE.) The course is intended primarily as introductory levels of instruction to (1) introduce learners to field recording, (2) the soundscape work of R. Murray Schafer, Bernie Krause, and (3) acoustic ecology studies.

 1.3 Target Audience Description:

This 5-week summer intensive course will cater to learners in areas of Arts and Social Sciences and more specifically under interdisciplinary studies, like Multimedia Studies under Arts, and the academic disciplines that makeup the Social Sciences. Learners involved in the program should have a strong desire to learn about the application of sound in Arts and Social Sciences and the technical application of sound recording devices and software.

 1.4 Instructional Goal:

The primary goal of the course is to introduce students to field recording, soundscape and acoustic ecology. Three goals of the course are to (1) introduce learners to field recording, (2) the soundscape work of R. Murray Schafer, Bernie Krause and (3) acoustic ecology studies.

1.5 Course Prerequisites:

The following prerequisites are recommended for students enrolling in the course:

  • Third or fourth year academic experience in the Arts, and an intermediate, to advanced familiarity with the Social Sciences.
  • Experience with qualitative and quantitative research and reporting.
  • Experience and aptitude with audio recording equipment is an asset.
  • Ability to operate a computer and have a beginner to intermediate level experience with operating multimedia software.

1.6 Evaluation Approach:

There are several methods used in the Evaluation strategy:

  • Direct Testing – on Gear Setup and Recording – Short answer and Essay Questions will be used.
  • Direct testing on identification of the variables that make up a soundscape. Multiple choice, Short answer and Essay Questions will be used. (See Appendix for a sample quiz.)
  • Final Portfolio of field recording and reports – based on a Rubric (See Appendix for a sample Rubric.)

Part 2. Course Design Details

2.1 Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, the learner will be able to:

  • Given the sound equipment of a recorder and microphone, the learner will be able to setup the equipment for field recording correctly; (Blooms – Apply)
  • Enable audio recorder preferences to capture the highest quality field recordings possible. (Blooms – Apply)
  • Be introduced to the work of R. Murray Schaffer, Bernie Krause, Soundscape and Acoustic Ecology; (Blooms – Synthesize)
  • Learn to identify Keynote sounds, Sound signals, Soundmarks and their relationship to each other in creating the Soundscape. (Blooms – Evaluate, Synthesize)
  • Use Audacity sound editing software to master and provide meta-data for cataloguing. (Blooms – Apply)
  • Use the SoundCloud website to upload, share and comment on field recording.

2.2 Instructional Strategies:

The course will be a Blended Learning course that includes face-to-face instruction and online resources and activities through the Desire2Learn (D2L) Learning Management System (LMS.)

Direct Instruction –  on setup of sound equipment for field recording;

Indirect Instruction – as students use their developing skills to record and analyze data to construct meaning.

Experiential Learning – students will focus on the process and application of skills to conduct field recording and analyze soundscapes in groups and in individual projects.

Interactive Instruction – will play a huge part as students will discuss their work online in an LMS and by sharing their work online through the SoundCloud application.

The Instructor will lead face-to-face instruction through lecture and demonstration and be a facilitator online in the D2L discussions area answering questions and giving feedback. Finally the instructor will guide students through an assessment phase of the course, providing feedback and grades on course assignments.

2.3 Media:

  • Instructor
  • Recording Equipment (for each student):
    • Field recorder and protective case
    • Extra batteries
    • Headphones
    • XLR cables
    • Stereo microphone
    • Zeppelins and wind-shields
    • Microphone stands
    • Still cameras for visual document
    • Journals
  • Computer Hardware and Software (for each student):
    • Desktop computers
    • Audacity software
  • Internet Applications:
    • D2L – Learning Management System
    • SoundCloud

The course will provide users with portable recording equipment for personal use during the duration of the course. Students will have lectures in face-to-face classes in a computer lab and an opportunity to work on desktop computers for completing class based exercises. Students can use the Internet and their own computer to access PDF versions of the instructor’s lectures on D2L. Students can post in D2L discussion forums and access relevant YouTube, SoundCloud and other web links from the Links section of D2L posted by the instructor.

2.4 Length of Instruction:

This course is designed as one class per week, 5-week summer intensive course. The course is structured as 5, 3-hour weekday classes and one weekend field recording trip, for a total of 15-hours of instruction and one 6-hour field trip.

2.5 Course Structure:

The course is divided into 5, 3 hour classes taking place once a week. Each class will have approximately 1.5 hours of lecture and 1.5 hours of classroom exercises and assisted work with the Instructor on recording equipment and audio software. Students will need to continue working on course materials and online short quizzes in D2L in order to optimize performance in class.

2.6 Development Tools:

Course lectures given in class will be created in Microsoft PowerPoint and converted to Adobe PDFs for upload to D2L.  Sound samples that students will be using to edit in class will be created by the instructor using recording equipment and uploaded to servers for use with Audacity editing software. All recordings used in Audacity by students will be created by the instructor with the same recording equipment being used by students, to accurately represent a range of recording possibilities.

2.7 Deliverables:

  • Pre, During and Post Questionnaires for students
  • Course Syllabus for students
  • Instructor Lesson plans (Available under 3.1 Lesson Plan Structure)
  • Field Recording Practical Exam (Sample under Appendix)
  • Mid-course online Quiz developed
  • Final Portfolio Instructions
  • Final Portfolio Rubric (Sample under Appendix)

Part 3. Lesson Plans

3.1 Lesson Plan Structure:

Lessons for each individual class will be broken up into two different sections. One section will be the lecture and class discussion and the second section will be made up of workshop and practical application exercises with audio hardware and software.

Detailed Outline:

Lesson 1

Lesson 1: Acoustic Ecology and the Soundscape

1. Introduction

2. Lesson objectives:

a. Identify Acoustic Ecology

b. Identify the Soundscape

c. Identify pioneers in the Soundscape field

d. Listening to Soundscapes

3. Method: lecture/discussion/Q&A/Exercises

4. Approximate time: 3-hours

5. Topic list:

a. What is Acoustic Ecology?

b. What makes up the Soundscape?

c. Learning about R. Murray Schafer & Bernie Krause

d. Listening to Soundscape examples (Guided by instructor)

6. Hands-on-exercises:

a. Students will listen to Soundscapes and practice identifying key parts with instructor.

7. Discussion

8. Debrief and Conclusion

9. Online Continuation:

a. Online Readings and class discussions on D2L.

b. Shot online quiz on Acoustic Ecology and the Soundscape. (Sample under Appendix)

Detailed Outline:

Lesson 2

Lesson 2: Field Recording Equipment

1. Introduction

2. Lesson objectives:

a. Identify what field recording is and what the process is

b. Identify the Why, of field recording

c. Practical exercises with recording hardware

3. Method: lecture/discussion/Q&A/Exercises

4. Approximate time: 3-hours

5. Topic list:

a. Field Recording

b. Field Recording Equipment

c. The Field Recording setup and Workflow

6. Hands-on-exercises:

a. Setting up the field recording equipment

b. A test recording

c. Proper saving and storage protocol

7. Debrief and Conclusion

8. Online Continuation:

a. Online Readings and class discussions on D2L.

Detailed Outline:

Lesson 3

Lesson 3: Field Trip Lesson

1. Introduction

2. Objective:

a. Learners will test their recording skills, by recording soundscapes in the field.

b. Learners will demonstrate they are able to setup all recording equipment to the instructor for former evaluation. (Sample under Appendix)

3. Approximate time: 6-hour field trip to isolated recording locations.

4. Debrief and Conclusion

5. Online Continuation:

a. Online Readings and class discussions on D2L.

Detailed Outline:

Lesson 4:

Lesson 4: Audacity Software Training

1. Introduction

2. Lesson objectives:

a. Importing recordings into the computer and the Audacity software program.

b. Learning to navigate the Audacity Interface

c. Learn about editing techniques in Audacity

3. Method: lecture/discussion/Q&A/Exercises

4. Approximate time: 3-hours

5. Topic list:

a. What is audacity?

b. Importing from recorders into Audacity

c. Setting up an Audacity Project

d. Audacity Interface Overview

e. Editing Audio – Using the Tools

f. Proper saving and storage protocol

6. Hands-on-exercises:

a. Students will import their own field recording into Audacity

b. Students will practice basic editing with their field recordings

c. Transferring audio into the computer

7. Debrief and Conclusion

8. Online Continuation:

a. Online Readings and class discussions on D2L.

Detailed Outline:

Lesson 5:

Lesson 5: Mastering Audio and Sound Cloud

1. Introduction

2. Lesson objectives:

a. Learning about Mastering Audio Techniques: optimizing sound files for audience playback.

b. Learning to create and use a SoundCloud web account.

3. Method: lecture/discussion/Q&A/Exercises

4. Approximate time: 3-hours

5. Topic list:

a. Learning About Normalization

b. Amplitude Reduction

c. Equalization

d. Learning about Compression

e. Reducing Sound Peaks and Spikes

f. Using Low-pass and High-pass Filters

g. Exporting options from Audacity

h. Creating a SoundCloud Account.

i. Uploading recording to Sound Cloud

6. Hands-on-exercises:

a. Students will take their field recordings through an audio mastering phase.

b. Students will create a SoundCloud account and start sharing and commenting on other student projects.

7. Debrief and Conclusion

Appendix

Rubric for Assessment of the Field Recording Final Portfolio Project:

Rubric Criteria:

Poor

Below Average

Average

Above Average

Excellent

Learners have recorded a high quality field recording.

Each recording has been properly edited using Audacity software

Your Audacity session shows that proper Mastering techniques were used to optimize the file.

Original Audacity sessions for each mastered recording are included.

Audio files are saved as an uncompressed aiff, or .wav and also as a .mp3 file.

Portfolio includes a detailed report identifying the Soundscape, including all Keynote, Sound Signals, and Sound mark sounds.

Portfolio includes a link to your personal SoundCloud account.

Pre, During and Post Questionnaires for students

Field Recording Practical Exam:

Learner will be checked off by the Instructor as having successfully accomplished the following requirements:

Properly assemble:

Microphone stand,

The zeppelin, windshield, microphone and xlr together

Connect the recorder to microphone and stand

Set proper recording levels and monitor a recording

Record

Online Quiz Samples:

Short Answer:

1. Define Acoustic Ecology

2. Define soundscape and the three main elements that create it.

3. Listen to the following embedded audio file and describe all three elements of the soundscape:

(2-minute embedded .mp3 file)

References:

1. Brown, A., & Green, T.D. (2011). “The Essentials of Instructional Design: Connecting Fundamental Principles with Process and Practice.” (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

2. *Wikipedia: Acoustic Ecology is the relationship, mediated through sound, between living beings and their environment.”

3. Beggs & Thede. (2001). “Designing Web Audio.”O’Reilly & Associates

– John Born

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