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Moodle is an online tool that allows educators to interact with students outside the classroom and manage a course from anywhere. In Moodle Essential Training for Teachers, Chris Mattia shows how this program works for teachers on three levels: disseminating information, creating a forum where ideas are exchanged, and assessing the progress of students. Chris shows how to build course materials with Moodle's HTML editor, post assignments, and save time by using Moodle's grade book to evaluate tests automatically and organize scores. Exercise files accompany the course.
There are a variety of different audio file formats that Moodle supports. These include MP3s, WAVs, and AIFs, and the MP3s are very attractive file format because they are already compressed. However, MP3s need to be prepared in a very particular way in order for them to play properly inside of Moodle. So in this movie, we are going to step you through the process of using iTunes to compress and convert a set of audio files into an appropriately formatted MP3 file format. So, we can then post those directly into Moodle.
So to begin, let's go ahead and minimize Firefox out of our way and if you are following along with the Exercise Files, I'm in the Chapter 4 Audio folder and there is a folder called RAW and inside of the RAW folder, there are bunch of audio files that are MOVs that I have recorded of myself saying a bunch of the scientific names. So we'll go ahead and preview one of those right here, so you can hear it. (Male voice: Acropora palmata.) So that your students will be able to get a clear understanding that is to a correct pronunciation of a particular organism, but you can see that the file size here is 2.1 MB, and while that's not bad, we can do better than that.
So what we want to do is we want to open up iTunes and I have got it already up here and if you do not have a copy of iTunes, you can go ahead and get a copy from www.apple.com/itunes. Now let me grab my Finder window, bring that back up here to the front for just a second, and we'll do select all which is Command+A or Ctrl+A and we'll just drag all of these MOV files directly into iTunes and that's going to effectively import all those files for us.
Let me go ahead and close this Finder window so that it's out of our way. The first thing that we want to do is we want to add a column of data here so that we know what particular files that we are working on. So if you Right-click or Ctrl-click at the top of one of these columns, you can then find the listing for Kind and make sure you select this so that it has a checkbox next to it. When you do that, it's going to add this new column of data and it's going to let us know that these are QuickTime files. Now what we want to do is we want to convert all of these QuickTime files first into an AIFF format that has the proper data rate set on it. So to do this, go up to your iTunes menu and select Preferences. If you are using Windows it's going to be Edit > Preferences. You want to be on the General tab and you want to come down to where it says When you insert a CD, come over to the far right hand side and click on Import Settings. You then want to select the top dropdown, Import Using, and choose AIFF Encoder.
We then want to come down to Settings and choose Custom instead of Automatic and this is going to open up the Custom settings for us. We want to make sure that our Sample Rate is set to 44.100 kHz. This is because the Flash player inside of Moodle wants to have the Sample Rate to be an exact multiple of 11.025 kHz. In this situation, we want to have the best sample rate that we possibly can have for the audio files that we have got.
So we are going to select 44.100 kHz. Sample Size, we can leave it Auto. Channels, we can leave it Auto and we'll go ahead and hit OK. Then we'll go ahead and click OK at the bottom of the Import Settings and then OK at the bottom of our Preferences. Now we want to go ahead and select all of these files that we just imported, so we'll Command+A or Ctrl+A to select all those files and now if we go up to the Advanced menu, you now have an option that says Create AIFF Version.
So go ahead and select that and iTunes is going to churn away for us and you can see that it's created all of these AIFF files for us. Let's go ahead and organize those by Kinds. So we'll click on the top of the Kind column and we have now all of the AIFF files organized together, and the QuickTime files are at the bottom. So now that we have the AIFF files at the proper Sample Rate, now let's go ahead and convert them to MP3s with the correct file information as well, and you want to make sure that you do this in these two steps because this is going to be a much more lossless process.
Again, let's return back to our Preferences, again on the Mac it's iTunes > Preferences and on Windows, it's Edit > Preferences. Come on down to the General tab and click on the Import Settings option again. This time we are going to set Import Using, choose the dropdown and we are going to choose the MP3 Encoder. Again select Custom and now you want to set some other parameters in here, so the first one we want to set is the Stereo Bit Rate and we'll change that down to 64 kbps. We are not going to use the Variable Bit Rate encoding or the VBR, so make sure that that option is unchecked.
Next we want to set the Sample Rate and the Sample Rate should match the sample rate that we just set, so 44.100 kHz. Channel should be set to Stereo. Stereo Mode should be set to Joint Stereo. We do not want to use Smart Encoding Adjustments, so make sure this option is unchecked, and then make sure the checkbox is set for the Filter Frequencies Below 10 Hz. Go ahead and select OK, and it's going to ask you if we want to reset our recommended default settings and we don't want to actually reset our recommended settings, we'll just go ahead and use the settings that we have just setup here. And go ahead and click OK.
We'll click OK to close our Preferences window and now we'll go ahead and select all of the AIFF files. So click on the first file, which is Abudefduf_saxatilis, and then scroll down in the listing until you find the last AIFF file, which is Yellow_Tube_ Sponge. You want to hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and then click the bottom listing. This will select all of the AIFF files as a group. We can then go back up to our Advanced menu and now that option is set for Create MP3 Version, go ahead and click that, and you can see iTunes is cranking away here and it's converting all those files and we now have a whole set of these MP3 files.
So we want you to grab these files and be able to import them into Moodle, so that I'll move my iTunes window just a little bit out of the way. Now I'll come over to my desktop and Right-click or Ctrl-click on the desktop and choose New Folder and we'll just called this mp3. Then we simply want to come back over here to iTunes and we want to select all of the MP3 files. So we'll select the first Abudefduf_saxatilis, scroll on down in the list, until we get to the Yellow_Tube_Sponge MP3 version, hold down the Shift key and click on that, so that we have all of the MP3s selected now.
Now we'll simply click and drag those files over to this mp3 Folder and then when we double-click on the folder we can see all of those files that we just compressed are all here as MP3s. And we can click on that Acropora_palmata file and we can see now that same file that was 2.5 MB initially is now 24 KB and we'll go ahead and preview that by simply clicking on it here. (Male voice: Acropora palmata.) And it sounds pretty good. Now not every single file is going to sound perfect with this compression technique and you may need to compress your audio files as WAVs or just post the AIFF files directly into Moodle if you have a particular file that needs to sound exactly right. But this is going to get most files and be a pretty good coverage.
Let's go ahead and upload all these MP3 files then up onto our Moodle site, and as we saw in the previous movie to do this, we can simply Right-click or Ctrl-click on the folder mp3 and on the Mac, we'll choose Compress, on Windows we'll choose Send to Compress zip, and a zip file is going to get created for us, and it's right down here on our desktop so we'll go ahead and close this window and we'll get rid of iTunes as well. Now we'll go ahead and bring back up our Firefox browser and we'll go over here to the Administration block on the lower left hand side and click on the Link for files. We'll go into the Audio folder and click the Upload a file button, we'll browse and we are at our desktop, already. So we'll just select that mp3.zip file and click Open. We'll click the Upload this file button. That will upload the MP3 and we'll go ahead and unzip that so it's ready for us to use.
So I'll click the Unzip in the Action, scroll down to the bottom, click OK and if you are using a Mac, you can go ahead and check the box next to the _MACOSX resource fork file, and click the dropdown at the bottom and choose Delete completely to get rid of that, and we'll just say Yes. Now we have our folder of mp3 files and if we click on that folder, we can see that all of the audio files that we just compressed are in here and ready for us to use. And we'll begin using those in the next movie.
So, the overall process that you want to go through is take your audio files, whatever you have recorded them in, add them into iTunes, then you want to convert them first to AIFF files and then convert them into MP3 files, with the correct settings that we showed in the video. And that should give you audio that's compressed and ready to be published inside of Moodle, and let's go and return back to our course.
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