Listen To Me!
Creating Audio for PowerPoint and the Web

Michael A. Russell
AC 2596
503 491-7348


This report proposes a methodology accessible to instructors at Mt. Hood Community College for creating digital audio sound clips using a personal computer (PC) and related peripherals.  Sound files enhance learning and offer a procedure to address the various audio learning styles more efficiently.  Audio files can consist of spoken words, music, clips from TV or radio broadcasts, etc.  Details for creating the audio will be provided along with any technical details necessary for the construction of the required sound.

Two novel applications of audio to enhance student learning and teaching effectiveness are proposed.  The first involves the addition of customized audio clips to Microsoft PowerPoint presentations.  Using a "second voice", a dialog can be created for classroom lectures that will keep the students' attention focused on the learning material.  Audio learning styles will be addressed more effectively using audio clips than by using text and pictures only.

A second application will be the incorporation of audio into World Wide Web applications.  Using recent advances in the QuickTime architecture, instructors can enhance their web sites with a variety of tools and techniques previously unavailable.  Audio can be broadcast effectively over the Web even when download speeds of 56K are the norm (as they are in the MHCC District).  Virtual lectures, training simulations, audio messages - all of these and more are possible using the power of audio.

Note that this document may be viewed on the World Wide Web:


I. Project Goals

Page 2

II. TLC Goals

Page 3

III. Innovation

Page 4

IV. Evaluation

Page 4

V. Post-project Responsibilities

Page 4

VI. Progress and Timeline

Page 4

VII. Use of Funds

Page 5

VIII. Personal Comment

Page 5

Thank you for considering my request.  If I can answer any additional questions you might have, please contact me.  Thank you for your time,

Michael Russell, Ph.D.

I. Project Goals:

Imagine being unable to hear any sounds.  We would miss the joyous ring of laughter, the soothing tones of music, the alarming resonance of a child's cry… life would be quite different without the emotional response of sound affecting our lives.  But sound can be used for so much more than emotional transference; indeed, instructors at Mt. Hood Community College and other institutions use audio techniques in every lecture, delivering important concepts through their resonating voice to the eager minds of their students.  Static pictures and video (i.e. moving pictures) can augment the lectures, definitely, but the primary medium for transferring information in a live academic setting is audio - the power of sound in all its glory.

Audio and reading compliment each other.  We remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, and 30% of what we see… but we remember 50% of what we see and hear. (Raymond T. Wilmon, Educational Media, 1989)  To simply see or read or hear by itself does not enhance student learning, but mixing the different learning modalities leads to improved memory retention of new concepts.  Audio should be incorporated into every learning medium for the best chance of student success.

Microsoft PowerPoint presentations are becoming increasingly popular for delivering academic lectures.  The ability to display text, pictures and videos with dynamic transitions allows lectures to be delivered in an organized, efficient format.  But PowerPoint has an incredible array of audio opportunities unused by most instructors.  Custom sounds and built-in sound "bites" or clips can be created and added to transitions, movies, and independent objects to stimulate creativity and learning.  Offering much more than an attention-grabbing device, sounds will become increasingly important as the power of audio becomes apparent within PowerPoint lectures.

A new medium for transferring information, namely the World Wide Web, has enormous benefits for students with jobs, families, and other responsibilities outside of the academic setting.  Web sites are open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and this offers an accessibility unseen to students of previous times.  The Web has traditionally been a bastion of text and still images, and visual learning styles have benefited from the Web's plethora of information.  However, non-visual learners have been slow to embrace the power of the Web due to their learning preference (audio, kinesthetic, etc.)  Adding audio to web sites would enhance the capacity of students with an audio learning style to learn more effectively.

As instructors, we need to think of methods to get and hold on to the students' attention while introducing new concepts.  Even the most eager minds will be distracted by nice weather, personal circumstances, other classes, etc., and during times like this their attention will drift from the delivered material.  The news media uses sound bites when delivering current events, entertainment, etc. to the watching audience, allowing the listener's attention to remain focused on the presented material and not on other distractions.  Instructors can have this tool at their disposal by using appropriate sound bites in their classrooms, either through PowerPoint lectures or on the Web.

The "Listen To Me!" project proposes a new methodology for creating and utilizing the power of audio for classroom PowerPoint lectures and the World Wide Web.  The proposal can be divided into four goals:

  • Goal #1 of the project will explain how to create customized audio clips using a computer or other device.  Technical details of the creation process will be explained.
  • Goal #2 of the "Listen To Me!" project will show in detail how to insert and utilize sound clips within Microsoft PowerPoint presentations for classroom use.  Using a "second voice" instructors can create active dialogues as a part of the lecture presentation, keeping the students' attention focused on the learning material.
  • Goal #3 will provide interesting examples of how audio clips can be utilized within Web pages.  QuickTime technology has unleashed a plethora of wonderful teaching tools that can be used within academic web sites.  Background music, audio commentary, virtual lectures, and much more - all will be accessible after reading Part Three of the project.
  • Goal #4 will be to actively encourage other faculty and staff members to utilize the technologies outlined in this project.  The goal will be accomplished through a variety of mediums: a written paper outlining the research performed and results obtained for this project (which will be released to the TLC when completed); an oral presentation (to be arranged with the TLC, possible for Fall Term 2001 or perhaps during MHCC's In Service in September of 2001); a web site with accompanying materials ( which includes an audio web tour of the technology; and a commitment to assist other faculty and staff members to implement the capabilities of audio in their domains on a one to one basis if necessary.

It is not enough to simply present the material; providing a forum by which interested faculty members can ask questions and receive answers is essential to a productive interaction.  The goal is to enhance audio utilization within the classroom setting whether through PowerPoint, the Web, or some other setting.  I will do everything in my power to help others accomplish this goal.

II. TLC Goals:

The "Listen To Me!" project discussed above fits well into the Teaching and Learning Cooperative's two primary directives.

Directive #1, "Developing and sustaining effective teaching and learning with the emphasis on student learning", is followed absolutely in each of the project goals listed above.  The first goal, creating audio, is necessary to address the diversity of learning styles expressed by students; we should not discriminate or express a bias to a particular learning group while teaching.  The second goal, utilizing audio in PowerPoint, will help to address the needs of the audio learners as well as offer a tool to keep student attention focused on the learning material.  Sound bites have been used by the news media due to their attention gathering powers; instructors should have this opportunity available to them as well.  The third goal, utilizing sound on the Web, extends the efforts of the first goals even further by offering the capacity for audio in virtual lectures, sound filled email, audio commentary, and more.  The primary goal of this project is to enhance student learning and teaching effectiveness; the medium by which this will occur is through audio.

Directive #2, "Ensuring broad applicability throughout the MHCC teaching and learning community", will be followed closely as well.  All of my protocols and instructions are available free of charge to any learning community that wishes them, be they from Mt. Hood Community College or elsewhere.  I will be sharing my results with my colleagues through a written paper, a web site ( and a presentation on the MHCC campus during late 2001.  I am always available for comment and questions, and I am committed to instructor success as much as I am committed to maximizing the power of student learning.

III.  Innovation:

Although the Music Department and Television Production Department utilize sound for their needs, I am unaware of anyone else on the MHCC campus that has used "home-made" audio for their PowerPoint or World Wide Web presentations.  The use of professionally recorded sounds has been undertaken for the Web (by Dr. Walter Shriner, Larry Dawkins, myself, and others), and many more individuals have used sound bites, clips and entire songs within PowerPoint presentations.  The use of sound is not novel, but actually creating the audio for non-music and non-TV purposes is novel on the MHCC campus to the best of my knowledge.

The basic tools are right accessible to almost anyone at MHCC; advanced tools can be found on our campus.  All that is needed is a vanguard to lead the way, mastering the technical obstacles and sharing the results with everyone interested in developing customized audio sound files.

IV. Evaluation:

I hope to create audio clips for utilization in both PowerPoint and the World Wide Web.  With PowerPoint, I can test the functionality of incorporating audio clips within the presentations and present the work to my colleagues during a scheduled presentation.  With the Web, I will create and test a sample Web presentation containing a "sample virtual lecture" which students might be able to experience.  Using static and dynamic graphics, I hope to re-create the experience of being in a lecture without actually being there - or at least as close as is possible without streaming video.

Naturally, both of these methods must be tested on willing students.  I have a small contingent of students who have volunteered to "test drive" the Web and PowerPoint protocols for me, telling me what they like, do not like, and possible improvements.  The PowerPoint will be given "live", and the Web version they will be able to view anywhere with Internet connectivity.

V. Post-project Responsibilities:

A presentation will be arranged in early Fall Term 2001 and/or during the Fall In Service for interested faculty and staff regarding the various methods of creating and utilizing audio.  A formal paper outlining the specific details of this project shall be created and distributed to interested parties.  A web site for my proposal ( will contain these documents as well as any other pertinent information.  In addition, I can always be reached for personal consultation either through electronic mail ( or telephone (503 491 7348), and multiple presentations can be arranged to meet the interests and expectations of the MHCC community - I am happy to share the knowledge gained!

VI. Progress and Timeline:

All of the plans outlined in the Project Goals section will be complete by early September of 2001.  The results of the project will be available for colleagues at this time.  A Fall In Service presentation could be prepared if desired; otherwise, this project should be completely finished - including the paper, presentation, and all research - by December of 2001.  All of the timelines are dependant on the TLC's wishes - I am very flexible.

VII. Use of Funds:









Learning the different methods to create audio and then incorporating the clips in PowerPoint presentations and the World Wide Web will take considerable time.  I will be using "built in" audio processing facilities found on several different PCs, each of which has an associated learning curve of variable difficulty.  But I will also be learning how to master a new software title (Mark of the Unicorn's Digital Performer) and a new piece of hardware (the Mark of the Unicorn 828).  These sound tools should allow me to compare the "native" or built-in sound capabilities of PCs to the higher end dedicated digital signal processors (DSPs) found in devices such as the 828.  I have never used Digital Performer or an 828 before, so my summer will (hopefully!) be quite busy!

Making audio is easier now than it has ever been, and I hope to be granted the funding for this project to help others create their own audio tracks for use on the Web and in PowerPoint.  All I need are the resources to get started!

VIII. Personal Comment:

I appreciate your time in considering my request.  If I can answer any questions that this paper does not address, please feel free to contact me using the information given below.  Thank you for your time,

Michael Russell, Ph.D.
(503) 491-7348

Return to the TLC Proposal Homepage.

Questions about this material should be addressed to the author,
Dr. Michael A. Russell,
Mt. Hood Community College
Gresham, Oregon, USA

Last Updated on June 27, 2001