Day 1: The future of writing is…

Welcome to the Technologies and Future of Writing module. Today I’m going to orient you to some of the writing spaces we’ll use in our eight meetings, including this course site, Audacity, and Google Drive. We’ll also review the syllabus, schedule, and homework for Day 2.

Activity: Long ago — before my time at Rowan in fact — this module was dubbed “Technologies and the Future of Writing.” Before we get started, let’s talk about the current and future state of “writing.” What is it? How is it changing? Are there other terms we should be including in addition to “technology” and “writing”? How do we know these things? What evidence do we have?

Writing tool #1: Google Drive

We will be using Google Drive to share files and folders throughout this semester. Here’s how to use it.

Getting to your IWA student folder

  1. Go to and log in with your usual Rowan credentials. (NOTE: to access or share any Drive materials you must be logged into your Rowan account.)
  2. Go to the “Shared With Me” tab on the left.
  3. Find your IWA student folder. It should include your last name, followed by “IWA” and your mod number (i.e. “Luther, Jason [IWA-1]”). Click on it. This is the folder you will use to share work with me that is not on a public site; it saves us the trouble of using Blackboard or sending files via email.

Creating folders and documents

  1. Create a folder clicking the big + NEW button at the top left and choosing folder. Name this folder “My Intro” and hit the Create button. (See GIF below).
  2. Open that folder and click the big + NEW button again, only this time choose Google Doc. Title this doc “script.”
  3. Use this document to tell the class a story about your relationship to music. This can be as simple as a ode to your favorite artist or genre, a story about an instrument you were forced to play in high school, a memorable concert you went to, or an anti-music story. You only have 10 minutes for this so just get it on the page for now.
  4. When you’re done, keep the doc open as you will revisit it momentarily.

Bonus tools for Google Drive

  • Drive app for iPhone or Android. Allows you to save or access Google Drive files from your phone.
  • Drive File Stream for your computer. Allows you to navigate and back up Google Drive filed from your operating system rather than a web browser.

Introduce yourself with Audacity

We’ll be using a free, cross-platform (i.e. PC or Mac) sound-editing program called Audacity quite a bit in this module. Audacity allows you to record, import, and mix audio files as well as manipulate them with different effects. Like other robust software, learning how to use Audacity takes time and can be challenging. Yet, one of the core approaches to learning to compose and create with new media is trial-and-error experimentation. This initial activity, then, will get you to experiment and problem-solve as best you can. After I show you a few ways to rip, import, and mix tracks in Audacity, you’ll manipulate them to create a new, multi-layered track that you’ll use to introduce yourself.

Finding & saving audio

For this activity you’ll begin by saving three audio files — two MP3s and one WAV file — to your “My Intro” folder (which, again, should be nested within your IWA Google Drive folder): one file from your phone, another from a free sound you download from the web, and yet a third file that you’ll rip from streaming content on the web. Once you have all three files, drag them from wherever you have them on your computer (the Downloads folder or the Desktop) to your “My Intro” folder, which should be opened in your browser. Like so:

Track 1: Voice memo. Open your voice app on your phone (in iPhone this is the Voice Memos app; on Android you might have to download Voice Recorder). Use the app to record your script from the Google Doc above. (It will probably take a few tries to get this to sound right.)

Once you have a decent version, export the file to your computer. You can do this several ways. If you have an iPhone, and you are exporting to a Mac, the quickest is by using Airdrop. Alternatively, if you installed the Drive app on your phone, you can export the file directly to that app (not unlike saving a photo there). You can also email it to yourself and drag it into the Drive folder as shown above.

Track 2: Free sounds. I like to think of web is a giant archive or repository of various media, including texts, images, videos, and — of course — sounds. However, the degree to which these files are available and the forms in which they take depends on who owns them. There are many sites that offer free sounds, but to simplify things somewhat, use the BBC’s Sound Effects site, which is searchable and browseable by various categories. Once you find a sound you like, download the WAV to your computer and drag to the “My Intro” folder as shown above.

Track 3: Ripped content. In addition to repositories of audio files, there are also millions of sources for streaming audio. Content/copyright owners often choose streaming rather than downloading audio to exercise some control over their content; however, a number of options exist for converting streaming audio/video to files, some that are link-based like YTMP3 and others that are app-based, such as ClipGrab. (For more, see the Wikipedia entry on Youtube downloaders.)

At our next meeting I’ll introduce you to Audacity and you’ll work on mixing your intro. I’ll also introduce you to WordPress. In the meantime, I want you to do two things for homework, as noted below.

Homework for Day 2