Audio recorders include a variety of technologies used to record your voice, make a note, or essentially any recording using a microphone. Audio recorders can be used in numerous ways to assist students with learning challenges, for example in brainstorming, they allow students to focus on ideas instead of writing mechanics and conventions, they can aid in the editing/revision process and allow students to refine the voice in their writing, and can be used for student self-reflection and for feedback from instructors. In lectures, they can enable students to review materials as many times as needed and can be used as a study aid for students. They can also circumvent graphomotor problems for both written compositions and note-taking (Laidlaw & O’Mara, 2015). As with many assistive technologies, audio recorders may present environmental concerns (Liu, Navarrete, & Wivagg, 2014). Specifically, students will require a quiet, private place in order to speak out their ideas and to ensure that these are comprehensible and teachers will need to ensure that all of the necessary hardware is available (e.g., chargers). The research literature on audio recorders is sparse; however, there may be a decreasing need for research in this area as voice recognition and text-to-speech software are becoming more and more effective. They can circumvent the need for students to type or write down their ideas following audio recording, and for teachers to record audio feedback on assignments.
Research: Due to a limited number of published experimental studies, this information should be interpreted with caution.
Effective in circumventing problems for children with writing learning disabilities
Can allow students to participate more fully in their classrooms, especially those that struggle with graphomotor problems and writing fluency (Laidlaw & O’Mara, 2015)
Allows students to repeat information as often as necessary when used to record teachers or lectures (Harrison, 2013)
May be more time efficient in circumventing graphomotor problems than teaching handwriting (Harrison, 2013)
Easily accessible, as many students already have access to an audio recorder on their smartphone or computer
Teachers will require training in order to use this tool effectively (Liu et al., 2014)
May be impractical to use in a school setting
There may be issues with hardware configuration, especially when recordings need to be transferred between devices (Lafford & Lafford, 2005)
Special Consideration: Workflow
Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed.
$ - Under $5
$$ - Between $6 and $50
$$$ - Between $51 and $250
$$$$ - Over $250
Harrison, C. R. (2013). The use of digital technology in the class and laboratory. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 405, 9609–9614.
Laidlaw, L. & O’Mara, J. (2015). Rethinking difference in the iWorld: Possibilities, challenges and ‘unexpected consequences’ of digital tools in literacy education. Language and Literacy, 17, 59-74.
Lafford, P. A. & Lafford, B. A. (2005). CMC technologies for teaching foreign languages: What’s on the horizon?. CALICO Journal, 22, 679-709.
Liu, M., Navarrete, C. C., & Wivagg, J. (2014). Potentials of Mobile Technology for K-12 Education: An Investigation of iPod touch Use for English Language Learners in the United States. Educational Technology & Society, 17, 115–126.
Written by Bronwyn Lamond, Last Revision May 2018