Here is an excellent gadget to use for recording student voices without having to be tied to the laptop or PC.

The Easi Speak USB mic is a handheld microphone that lets you record directly onto the device, a bit like a dictaphone. They are very portable and would be ideal for taking on school trips.

You can play the recorded files back directly from the microphone (it has a small speaker built in, or you can use the headphone socket) for immediate feedback. Or you can flip the cap off the bottom of the microphone to reveal the USB connector and plug it in to your computer to offload the files.

It has a 128MB memory that can record up to 4 hours of sound. It records in WAV or MP3 format so you can take the files and put them directly into Audacity or similar Editing Software.

It has a built-in rechargeable battery which can be charged through USB. You can buy a small charging hub to charge 5 at the same time.

easi speak

And the best thing about them is the price. They retail at about £30 each but you can get discounts for buying in packs of 5 or 10. Find out more from the TTS Site.

The sound quality is pretty good. Here’s a demonstration sound file I recorded earlier. For this I held the mic about 20 cm from my mouth, there’s very little distortion:

TTS Easi Speak Demo File – Click to Play

The EasiSpeak does look a little childish in yellow (I think the black one looks quite good) which may put older children off using it – but TTS are producing Easi-Speak Pro which is £10 more but does look a bit more “adult” and less Fisher Price… It also has dual headphone sockets and an input for an external sound source. This is not yet on the TTS site, but should be available soon.

They are a really neat bit of kit,and can have a wealth of uses in the classroom. They would be ideal for podcasting – either by putting the files into Audacity first, or taking the MP3 files straight off the Easispeak and putting onto your school VLE or uploading to a Podcasting site.

The MP3 files could also be attached to an interactive whiteboard file – would be good for recording short sound effects or words that play when they are clicked.

Here’s some other ideas for using them:

  • English – Use for role play interviewing, drama-script reading and listening back to recordings.
  • Languages – use for role play, oral work – immediate playback to see how they sound.
  • Maths – Record in your times table songs and rhymes for all the class to sing to.
  • Science – Record sounds from varying distances – how does the sound alter?
  • Geography – Interview local residents about issues that concern them with their local environment.
  • History – Use on field trips to see how attitudes to popular culture, work and home life have changed.
  • Music – Record and listen to music and sounds.
  • Citizenship – use for “vox pops” to interview people for their thoughts and opinions on different topics.

They could be used to make audio books, or instructional guides. You might even use them to make revision guides which can be placed onto the school network.

Here’s a link to my podcasting presentation I produced last year which may offer additional ideas.

I’m looking forward to playing with these some more. I’ve bought a set of 5 for my training courses so hopefully I’ll soon have some recordings from teachers that we can share!