Digital Recording of Educational Audio Media (DREAM) achieved its first target last week with the completion of master tapes for two set books. The team is lead by Mary Taylor from the Multimedia Enabling Technologies group (METg). Chris Valentine, also from METg, was responsible for turning the concept into the first working prototype, with contributions from Paul Barefoot of the Audio Recording Centre (ARC). Chris Denham from Academic Computing Services wrote the software, and Phil Satchell and others from the Office for Students with Disabilities contributed to the design.
DREAM takes a new approach to recordings for print disabled students. Digital recording software has been developed which presents the volunteer readers with the text on screen in small chunks. A special simplified keypad allows readers to accept or reject each chunk, creating a link between the text and a sound file. Chunks are sized to balance fluency of reading with a short time to read it again if a mistake has been made.
The main advantages of digital recording over traditional analogue methods are sustainable quality and transformability. Traditional analogue master tapes made be used to in make many copies over the lifetime of a course and quality degrades with wear. Using digital masters, new masters can be made when needed. The master exists as a set of standard audio files, structured to link to the text. It can be provided on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM as a ReadOut version for a PC with enabling technology, or transformed into any other format the future might bring.
One of the six booths in the ARC has been converted for DREAM recording and more will be equipped soon. A two-booth system can currently be seen in KMi. The latest DREAM developments have been funded by HEFCE and the OU Development Fund.