Producing Radio Plays on the XO Laptop

A Teachersʼ Manual to integrate Radio Production in the Classroom

Tom Staubitz - Berlin 2011

Table of Contents
1 Introduction!............................................................................................1 2 The Story! ................................................................................................4 3 The Modules! ...........................................................................................5
3.1 Pronunciation and acting— core element!..........................................................5 3.2 Microphoning basics, recording the Actors— core element!...............................8 3.3 Creative writing— additional module, advanced! ..............................................10 3.4 Fundamentals of sound— additional module, beginners!.................................12 3.5 Microphones— additional module, advanced!..................................................16 3.6 Title Song and Background Music— additional module, beginners! .................19 3.7 Creating soundFX— additional module, beginners!.........................................21 3.8 The workings of the human ear— additional module, beginners!.....................23 3.9 Historical context— additional module, all levels!.............................................25 3.10 Mixing and Effects— additional module, advanced!.......................................26

4 The Activities!........................................................................................28
4.1 Audacity!...........................................................................................................28 4.2 Browse!.............................................................................................................33 4.3 FotoToon!..........................................................................................................34 4.4 JAMedia, JukeBox, Radio! ................................................................................35 4.5 Labyrinth!..........................................................................................................36 4.6 Measure!...........................................................................................................37 4.7 Record!.............................................................................................................37 4.8 Speak!...............................................................................................................39 4.9 TamTamMini!.....................................................................................................40 4.10 TamTamSynthLab !..........................................................................................41 4.11 Write! ...............................................................................................................43

Radio Dramas!.........................................................................................44 HowTos!...................................................................................................46 Copyright free music and soundFX!.........................................................46 Images!.......................................................................................................i Bibliography! ...............................................................................................ii

1 Introduction
Producing a radio play is a valuable means to teach a wide variety of skills. Starting from primary school basics, such as reading and writing in the children’s native language, continuing with training pronunciation in foreign languages, the workings of the human ear, or physical basics of sound. Eventually, ending with advanced topics, such as the role of the radio play in literature and its different genres, adapting novels to create radio plays, writing radio plays based on historical events or issues of political and social relevance, or the application of certain musical styles or elements to create different atmospheres. Naturally, it also trains the usage of a wide variety of technology, such as hard disk recording and microphones. Teamwork is an integral part of radio play production.
The workshop

During the summer of 2010, Radijojo1 assembled a team to prepare and produce the pilot for a series of radio plays— Radio Futura— to be produced on the OLPC XO laptop. A story was developed, songs were prepared, and candidates for the software to be used were evaluated. Finally, the pilot was rehearsed, performed, and recorded with 24 nine-year-old children during a five-day workshop at Berlin’s Anna-Lindh-School in November 2010. One of the project’s objectives was to use exclusively XOs and software that is currently available for the XO. During the one week of the workshop2 we managed to rehearse and record the actors’ parts and the title song, one team was visualizing the story, another team produced and recorded sound effects (soundFX), and yet another team tried to establish contacts to international partners. The historical context of child labor in Germany and some of the children’s countries of origin briefly has been discussed to provide a theoretical background to the production’s topic. The script and a scaffold for the title song’s lyrics and music was pre-produced. The mixing was done, without children and not on an XO 3, after the workshop. Despite that we had tried to establish contacts to schools in Latin America and Africa before the workshop had started, we have not been successful in establishing direct contacts between the children of AnnaLindh-School and schools in developing countries. This was partly owed to none-compatible vacation schedules.

1 2 3 Five days, 8:00 - 13:30 including the regular school breaks, 24 children, 6 teams, 1-2 mentors per team It is possible, but it takes a great deal of patience. The biggest obstacle is the small screen in this case.


Radijojo is Berlin’s first international, noncommercial children’s radio. Since August 2003, a wide variety of programs have been produced. Since then Radijojo has gathered plenty of expertise on the topics of producing radio content with children and internationally connecting children through a wide variety of media. Considering the experience of the workshop, this manual has been produced with the objective to enable teachers around the world to produce their own episode for Radio Futura4.
How to use the manual

The chapters of the manual are designed in a modular way. The core modules are the rehearsing of the children’s parts and their recording. These naturally need to have the central focus. According to the age of your students, the available time, or the technical equipment you have at your disposal, you are free to pick the aspects you want to focus on. Some aspects will have to be pre- or post-produced if they are not part of your work with the students, others can be completely omitted. This manual can and will not give detailed advice how to achieve the specific goals of the involved classes. It is intended to give an idea where to start from. It will try to give advice which of Sugar’s activities are suitable to be used for each of the tasks, what the pitfalls are, and how they can be used best. Chapter three focuses on the module’s content— the what, while chapter four will give an introduction on several activities— the how. All the modules are not dependent on the usage of Sugar or the XO and can be used with any other existing computer platform as well. Chapter four lists a couple of free or open source alternatives to most of the activities for Mac, Windows, and Linux systems. A couple of suggestions for further readings are suggested. Naturally these are not exhaustive. Most of the suggested books are a little outdated where the described technology is concerned. Yet, they proved to be valuable resources for the topics that aren’t dependent on certain technologies.
Example settings
Long term setting:

The production of a radio play is particularly suitable to be done as a joined effort of a couple of classes in project based education. A wide variety of supplementary topics can be added to the actual production. This seems to be an especially useful setting in the context of the socalled unidocentes, schools where only one teacher educates children of all ages in one class(room).

If youʼre intending to use this manual for another purpose, feel free to do so.

Workshop setting:

To produce a radio play in a short-time workshop is challenging but also provides much fun; for the children as well as for the adults. The lack of time has to be compensated by additional human power and a very careful preparation of the teams’ tasks. One teacher alone will hardly be able to handle this task, unless the students are very self-disciplined, trained collaborators and used to work independently, which will rarely be the case. This setting is best suitable if volunteers are available to mentor the teams. They do not necessarily need to be computer savvy but should have a certain knowledge of their team’s field. Some of the more complex activities require some basic training to be able to produce results in a short time.

The produced content cannot only be published on air but also online, given that a certain infrastructure is present. Radijojo offers to publish submitted episodes on air and online on its webpage. It is encouraged to record the play in the children’s native language. A transcription of the dialogues in English would be appreciated. To publish your episode on Radijojo, please contact:

Thanks to

Sandra— the author and director of the play— and the children of the actors team, Bun, Irina, and the children of the soundFX team, Katharina and the children of the international team, Auge, and the children of the animation team, Marko, and the children of the production team, David, Emily, Bob, and the children of the music team. Special thanks to Irene Dunkley and Anne-Lotte Völkel the class’ teachers who gave us invaluable support, and to the other teachers of Anna-Lindh-School for sacrificing their lessons. Thomas Röhlinger and Radijojo. Adam Holt and the OLPC contributors program, Urs Lerch and OLPC Switzerland, and Dr. Debora Weber-Wulff for providing the XOs.

2 The Story
The story is about two siblings, brother and sister, living in the year 2068. All intentions and resolutions, such as the millennium goals have failed. The whole world degenerated to a place, where people live under the worst conditions and children’s rights are neglected. The siblings try to fathom one of the children’s rights in each episode. The pilot’s topic is child labor. The siblings’ only friend is a radio host, who sends out his reporters to investigate the current topic around the world. If you intend to produce an episode of your own, please adhere to the following guidelines. 5

1. The script of an episode should have about five to ten pages. Each episode consists of five scenes. 2. Each episode features the main characters: The siblings, the radio host, the computer voice 3. The names of the characters may change according to the producing country, but the characters remain the same. 4. Additional characters may be chosen from the pool of additional characters, or they may be invented (and added to the pool of additional characters) 5. Each episode is about one of the topics of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children or the Millennium Goals 6. Each episode starts with a summary of the previous episode. 7. The episode ends with the problem being solved by uniting the children’s voices. 8. The episodes feature the title song that may be orchestrated according to the producers’ possibilities, also the lyrics may differ from one episode to another. 9. Each episode features contributions of children from other countries that comment on the topic from different points of view.

If you prefer to do something completely different, please feel free to do so.

Sandra Babing, Dogmas for future episodes of Radio Futura, Berlin 2010

3 The Modules
3.1 Pronunciation and acting— core element

Theatre, (Foreign) Languages Training of (proper) pronunciation, enunciation, control of pace, loudness, emphasis, and pitch in speech, expression of a variety of sentiments without visual aids


XO Laptop, additional microphone Record, Speak, TamTamMini

The children read or speak their parts aloud. Their voice is recorded. Compare their pronunciation with a reference pronunciation. Reference pronunciations might be • your own, • a recording by native speakers if available, • or the Speak activity, which is really good for that purpose if there are no alternatives. If training a foreign language is your main focus, you might consider reenacting classic radio dramas. A variety of recordings of vintage radio dramas are available online. A (far from being complete) list of radio dramas that are available online can be found at the end of this document. If your focus is on training the theatrical skills of the children, give the children a sentence to read. Record it and let them listen to it. Let them write various copies of the same sentence and underline different words to emphasize different intentions. Who…? I’m going to work with the XO at home tomorrow. Where…? I’m going to work with the XO at home tomorrow. What…? I’m going to work with the XO at home tomorrow. When…? I’m going to work with the XO at home tomorrow.

Let them record it and listen to it. Let them record sentences in a different pace and loudness. Let them find out the lowest and highest pitch they can produce with their voices by comparing it to sounds produced with TamTamMini. Expressing sentiments in a radio production is different from doing this on stage. The technical devices that are involved with recording allow the use a wider variety of loudness. Whispering, for example, wouldn’t be possible on a theatre stage, in radio production it is. Visual aids such as gestures and facial expressions, however, are missing and have to be compensated in another way. The usage of an additional microphone is advised as the recording level of the built in microphone is very low6. Rehearsing and acting is the most important part of the radio play. The actors should be selected carefully. Later on the main actors could be casting other children for some additional parts. Listening to and evaluating the other children’s acting will be enriching their experience. Auditions are also a great tool to train organizational and team skills. Let the children prepare report sheets in Write, providing possibilities to enter some basic data about the auditionee and notes of the auditioners. In an ideal setting the auditioners do not see the auditionees so that a decision can be made based on the voice only. The auditioners should immediately note their first impression for which kind of character the auditionee might be suitable. The children train to make decisions, communicate bad news, and to cooperate in a team. Probably the most important rule for the actors is: “Don’t read! Act!” The actors therefore not only need to be comfortable in speaking their parts, but also need to be familiar with the play as a whole. The voice should reflect the environment. If a scene takes place in a noisy environment, for example, the actors need to put more power into their voices. The microphoning, see the next chapter, will have to be done differently as well. Though the environment noise will be added later on, still it is important to keep that in mind to get the acting and the microphoning right.
The following sources are recommended for further reading:

Bruce H. Siegel, Creative Radio Production (Chapter 8 - Using your voice), Richard Aspinall, Radio programme production, (Part III, chapter 9 - Microphone talent) 7

6 7

See also figure 01 This book is available online for free: &req=2&au=Aspinall,%20Richard%20P

Salas Pilco, Zdenka Zobeida, The XO Laptop in the Classroom, (Activity 16 - Practicing correct word pronunciation)

3.2 Microphoning basics, recording the Actors— core element

Training to work with microphones and recording equipment XO Laptop, additional microphone, microphone stand (if available) Record, (or Audacity under Gnome), Measure

While the emphasis of the recordings in the previous chapters was on correcting pronunciation and expression, the emphasis here is on sound quality. As figure 01 shows, the level of a recorded single voice is much too low when the built-in microphone is used. Another reason for using external microphones is that they facilitate better postures of the children when they are speaking. Speaking directly into the built-in microphone evokes some ergonomic problems. Microphones are available at prices starting with $15. The quality of the microphone is the key factor for the quality of the recording. Unfortunately, there is currently no really satisfying activity for recording on the XO available. Audacity’s user interface under Sugar disappoints, it has to be started from the Terminal and many UI elements just do not fit in their boxes. It is also too complex
Figure 01: Input levels of recordings made with the XOs

➊-Four children shouting simultaneously directly into the microphone, ➋-the same sequence, normalized with Audacity. ➌-One child speaking into the microphone, ➍-the same sequence, norbuilt in microphone. malized with Audacity

to be used with smaller children. Using Audacity under Gnome does not really improve the UI situation and should only be considered if the students are older and familiar with Gnome. The Record activity is simple enough but

also has some usability issues. It does not show the level of the recording but unnecessarily displays the output of the built-in camera instead. Improvements have been suggested, and possibly an improved recording activity for Sugar will be available soon. See also chapters 4.1 and 4.7 for more details on Record and Audacity. Next to teach the children to use Record and Audacity, this module is training the basic usage of microphones. The correct positioning of the microphone, its distance to the actor, differences in recording voices and music or sound effects. The basic rule for microphone posi!

tioning is: The closer, the better, but never touch it. 1-2 inches between the microphone and the face are perfect. Avoid popping sounds by placing the microphone slightly off to the side of the speaker’s mouth. Pointing the microphone directly in one line with the speakers mouth guarantees popping noises. Let the children experiment with different positions and discuss the recorded results. As Record currently does not yet visualize the sound curve, Measure could be used to do this. Though it is not possible to really adjust the recording level in Measure, it can come handy to see what happens to the loudness of the recording when the microphone is moved. Especially in the recording of radio drama other rules for microphone positioning have to be applied to create the illusion of place and movement. Consider the setting that needs to be transported to the listener. How do different rooms sound like? Is the scene located in a room or outside? Some tricks in microphoning can also help to create certain settings. If the scene requires someone to be calling from a distance, reflect this in the distance between the actor and the microphone. Movements of the actors should be played and reflected in the positioning between the actor and the microphone. SoundFX such as steps and slamming doors should be added later on though, to create a more realistic feeling. See also chapter 3.5 for more details about types of microphones.

The following sources are recommended for further reading:

Bruce H. Siegel, Creative Radio Production (Chapter 3 - Microphones), Richard Aspinall, Radio programme production, (Part II, chapter 5 - Getting to know the studio), Lewis O’Donnell et al., Modern Radio Production, (Chapter 5 - Microphones and Sound)

3.3 Creative writing— additional module, advanced

Languages, creative writing Training creativity, training writing skills XO Laptop, paper, pencils JAMedia, Browse, Write, Labyrinth, Etoys

Let the children explore and analyze a selection of radio plays and compare the differences in style and used language. You can either download a selection of audio files8 or let them search on their own in the internet if available. Besides selected internet radio streams, JAMedia plays .wav, .wma, .ogg, and .mp3 files 9. Printed versions of radio plays are harder to find unfortunately. Despite their literal quality, only few radio plays that have been produced by the BBC made it into print. Let them compare the differences in structure between a radio play and a novel or poem. A play or drama tells a story using the elements action and dialogue. Generally a conflict is involved. It has a plot, consisting of beginning, middle, and end. First, the conflict is set up, and the listener is informed about the general setting of the drama. This is also called the exposition. Waiting to resolve the problem till the end of the plot creates suspense which is the most important element of the drama as it keeps the listener listening. The obvious difference between a radio play, a theatre play, or a movie is the absence of visual elements. Particularly action has to be depicted by sound. Let the children think about which sounds could be used to depict certain situations. SoundFX are especially useful to compress time. A sound effect of roaring thunder and heavy rain, for example, will take half of the time than a narrator telling how bad the storm is. Chapter 3.7 will discuss how soundFX can be realized. The most important part of the play is spoken words. Usually, they appear as dialogues, sometimes there is as well a narrator’s voice. Both action and dialogue have on purpose, which is to advance the plot or story line. While a story is a mere recital of events, “[a drama] takes us into the lives and thoughts of people. It shows us their characters and how their characters change and take new directions as a result of the conflicts which face them in their lives [...]” (R. Aspinall) The radio play has a couple of restrictions owed to the medium. Avoid too many short and rapidly changing scenes as this will confuse the listener. You also should limit the maximum number of characters for the same reason. Radio scripts have to be mechanized. Everything that happens in the play needs to be mentioned in the script in great detail. Not only the spoken words but also the sound effects and the actors positioning to8 9

See the list at the end of this document An activity to play .m3u or .ram files has not been found yet. As a workaround you might want to try VLC

VideoLanClient under Gnome. The installation might be tricky though.


wards the microphones. Numbering the script’s lines provides an effective means to reenact certain parts of the scene. Let the children write their own radio play based on a short theatre play, a novel, a poem, a local myth, or an event with relevance to your countries history. Make sure that the adaption of the topic will work in this audio-only medium. Let them read the words out loud as they are writing (this will not work with many children in a limited space). Make them keep things simple as listeners will not be able to reread passages of the play in their own pace. They can work in groups or alone. Maybe create a writing contest. Ask parents or local authorities to participate in the jury or let the children themselves be the jury. If the children themselves are the jury, let them have more than one vote, so they can vote for themselves and another team. An activity that might be quite valuable to start the creative process is the mind mapping tool Labyrinth. The activity FotoToon could be used to create a script or to visualize a couple of scenes. See chapter 4.3 and 4.5 for more details on these activities.
The following sources are recommended for further reading:

Horst Prießnitz, Das englische “radio play” seit 1945 Peter Lewis (editor), Radio Drama Richard Aspinall, Radio programme production, (Part III, chapter 10 - Radio writing, chapter 16 - The radio drama) Bruce H. Siegel, Creative Radio Production (Chapter 15 - Radio Drama) Lewis O’Donnell et al. Modern Radio Production, (Chapter 10 - Drama and Dramatic Elements in Radio Production) Salas Pilco, Zdenka Zobeida, The XO Laptop in the Classroom, (Activity 12 - Creating active essays with Etoys)


3.4 Fundamentals of sound— additional module, beginners

Physics Understanding the physical basics of sound XO Laptop, y-adapter, headphones, cable to connect headphone out with microphone in


Measure, Etoys, Scratch, TamTamSynthLab

Let the children generate sounds using TamTamSynthLab (see chapter 4.10), let them visualize the sounds in Measure, let them use Etoys or Scratch to create animated visualizations of sound curves with adjustable frequencies and amplitudes. The existence of sound is determined by the elements: vibration, medium, and receiver. A vibration is a periodic movement and though itself can’t be seen it can be visualized as a (sine) wave. These waves consist of cycles, whereas a cycle can start at any position of the wave. Sound is transported differently through different media like air or water, for example. In a vacuum, there is no sound at all. The way sound is transported by a medium is deFigure 02: Sine wave. A cycle can begin at a random point on the waveform. It ends when the “same” point has been reached the next time.

pendent on its elasticity and its density. The speed of sound is higher the lower the density and the higher the elasticity of the medium is. The higher the density the more distorted will a sound emerge. The speed of sound is also dependent on the altitude of your place

above sea level and the temperature. At sea level and 0° Celsius, sound’s speed is about 331 m/s, it is increased by approximately 0.34m per 1.8° Celsius (1° Fahrenheit)
Figure 03: Visualizing sound! Left XO - TamTamSynthlab, headphone out connected to... Right XO - Measure, microphone in.

Using a y-adapter enables you to connect the second XO and headphones in parallel to the left XOʼs headphone out.

The four basic characteristics of a sound are its frequency, amplitude, timbre, and envelope. The frequency is determined by the number of cycles in a given interval of time. It is meas!


ured in hertz (Hz), which is named after the German physicist Heinrich Hertz. Related to the
Figure 04: TamTamSynthlab. ➊ - In the Main tab add an instance of a tone generator (the green icon) to your synthesizer by dragging it above the line.

➋ - If

not selected yet, select the instance. ➌ - Select a Frequency Modulator from the dropdown menu. The sliders to adjust the elements characteristics will appear. Hovering over the sliders with the mouse will reveal a description on their affect. ➍ - The carrier frequency. This one will generate the pure tone. ➎, ➏ - The modulator frequency and the variation. Set both to zero to get a pure tone. ➐ - The loudness of the tone.

➑ - Connect the tone generator instance to the loud
speaker. By first clicking on the generators connector and then on the speakers.

frequency of a sound is its wavelength. The wavelength is the physical length of a complete cycle. The smaller the frequency the larger is the wavelength. Use TamTamSynthlab to generate a pure tone, connect a second XO and use Measure to display the tone’s wave form.
Figure 05: Different frequencies and wavelengths. Produced with TamTamSynthlab, visualized with Measure.

The amplitude of a sound determines the wave’s height. The larger the amplitude the louder is the sound.


Figure 06: Amplitudes At a certain level the sound is clipped. This would produce digital distortion and crackling sounds on a recording

The amplitude’s unit of measurement is Bel, named after Alexander Graham Bell, one of the inventors of the telephone. It turned out that the Bel was not fine grained enough to conveniently measure small amplitudes. Therefore, it was decided to use the decibel instead. Unlike other units of measurement, the decibel is not an absolute value but expresses a comparison between two quantities. In effect, this means that increasing the loudness by 10 dB doesn’t just add ten units of loudness. It multiplies the loudness by ten. To double the loudness of a sound, its amplitude needs to be increased by 3 dB. In contrary to the above used synthetically produced pure tones, naturally created tones are composed of dozens of individual tones. The distinctive mixture of these tones produces the differences in sound between, for example, a guitar and a trumpet. The single elements of this composition are also called overtones. Their special combination is responsible for a sound’s timbre. Finally there is the sound’s so called envelope. It consists of the four parts attack, decay, sustain, and release. Let the children add an envelope (see figure 07) to the previously created pure tone generator and let them explore what is happening.
Figure 07: A soundsʼs envelope. Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release


Figure 08: TamTamSynthlab. ➊ - In the Main tab add an instance of an Envelope (the yellow icon) to your synthesizer by dragging it above the line. Select Envelope from the drop down menu.

➋ - Connect the enve-

lopeʼs output connector with the tone generatorʼs leftmost input connector (the one that controls the carrier frequency) ➌ - Attack. ➍ - Decay. ➎ - Sustain.

➏ - Release.

See chapter 4.6 and 4.10 for details on the usage of TamTamSynthlab and Measure. Related topics to be explored are certain sound phenomena, such as resonance, the Haas effect, or the Doppler effect. Digitization of sound also might be worth to have a look at.
The following sources are recommended for further reading:

Bruce H. Siegel, Creative Radio Production (Chapter 1 - Fundamentals of Sound), Lewis O’Donnell et al. Modern Radio Production, (Chapter 5 - Microphones and Sound) Audacity - FLOSS Manuals, Salas Pilco, Zdenka Zobeida, The XO Laptop in the Classroom, (Activity 11 - Creating animations of insects and animals [How to create an animation [in Etoys]]) David Marshall, Basics of Digital Audio,


3.5 Microphones— additional module, advanced

Physics, Music Knowing the types of microphones, knowing response patterns of microphones, understanding the workings of microphones


XO Laptop, different types of microphones (if available) Measure, Etoys, Scratch, Browse Let the children find information about the workings of microphones on the internet. If old or broken microphones are available let them disseminate those microphones, otherwise, a more theoretical approach will have to do. Let the children use Etoys or Scratch to create animated visualizations of microphone types. The microphone is a transducer, it converts acoustical energy into electrical energy. There are three different types of microphones based on the way that they do this conversion. Moving-coil microphones, Ribbon microphones, and Condenser microphones. Each of these has certain features.

Figure 09: Moving coil microphone

➊ - Diaphragm (moving) ➋ - Magnet (fixed) ➌ - Coil (moving)

Moving-coil microphones are cheap, robust, and respond well to very powerful signals. A diaphragm moves an electric coil within a magnetic field and thus generates electric signals according to the frequency and pressure of the input sound, see figure 09. It does not require a separate power source, which makes it quite portable. The frequency range of the other types is better though. Ribbon microphones are based on the same principle. The difference is that they have a metallic ribbon instead of a wire coil, swinging within a magnetic field, see figure 10. Ribbon microphones often look very old fashioned and outdated, yet they are the champions where the quality of sound is concerned. Unfortunately, they are also very susceptible and fragile. The ribbon easily breaks when they are thrown

Figure 10: Ribbon microphone

➊ - Magnet (fixed) ➋ - Ribbon (moving)


around or fall on the floor, which disqualifies them for the work with children. They should not be used outside at all as they also register all the disturbing noises such as wind. Another drawback is that they are generally very expensive. Condenser microphones or electret microphones are an attempt to combine the advantages and eliminate the disadvantages of the other types. For price, ruggedness, and sound quality they range in the middle of the two other categories. In contrary to the others, they require an external power source which is called phantom power. Some models have batteries contained in their body to provide this power, which can be a problem if they run down and have to be replaced in the middle of a production. The signal is generated by two metal plates. One of them is moveable and acts as a diaphragm. The other one is fixed. There is a small space between them and electrical charge is running through them, which is changing if the space between the plates is changing. See figure 11.
Figure 11: Condenser microphone

➊ - Diaphragm / Metal plate (moving) ➋ - Metal plate (fixed)

Another characteristic that differentiates microphones is their response pattern. These patterns determine from which directions a microphone picks up sound. Usually, these patterns are displayed in a polar diagram where 0° is the direction of the microphones head and 180° is the direction of the microphones back.


Omnidirectional microphones pick up sounds from all sides and therefore are very useful when ambient sounds, choirs, or orchestras are to be recorded. Bidirectional microphones pick up sound only from their front and their back. They are ideal to record two-person interviews. Unidirectional microphones only pick up
Figure 12: Polar diagram of bidirectional response pattern Figure 13: Polar diagram of omnidirectional response pattern

the sound in their front. They are used to record single instruments or singers in a band or for interview situations in a noisy environment.

The positioning of the microphones as discussed in chapter 3.2 has to be adjusted according to the microphone’s response pattern. The positioning of combinations on various microphones will not be discussed here as it would require additional hardware, such as a console to premix the levels of the different microphones.
Figure 14: Polar diagram of unidirectional response pattern

The following sources are recommended for further reading:

Bruce H. Siegel, Creative Radio Production (Chapter 3 - Microphones), Richard Aspinall, Radio programme production, (Part II, chapter 5 - Getting to know the studio), Lewis O’Donnell et al. Modern Radio Production, (Chapter 5 - Microphones and Sound) Salas Pilco, Zdenka Zobeida, The XO Laptop in the Classroom, (Activity 11 - Creating animations of insects and animals [How to create an animation [in Etoys]])


3.6 Title Song and Background Music— additional module, beginners

Music Training the children’s singing and instrumental skills, determining the (positive or negative) effect of different kinds of background music to transport certain atmospheres


XO Laptop, musical instruments (if available), TamTam, Record, Audacity

Depending on the children’s age and skills, either use an existing song as the title song or write a new one with their help. Write, or let them write, some lyrics that reflect the story. Rehearse the song until the children’s performance is sufficient to be recorded. If no instruments at all are available you could use TamTamMini to provide some. The keyboard is a little inconvenient to play music with it though. In fact, it might provide better results not to use a computer at all and just to let the children sing, clap hands, stomp with their feet, drum on bottles, tin cans, or what ever is lying around to generate any kind of sound. Let the children decide carefully if a certain scene needs background music at all and what kind of music will be suitable. Background music should be reflecting the scene. A separate topic is background music that is physically present in a certain scene, such as a radio or a band playing somewhere. Let the children analyze the recorded scenes for the atmosphere that needs to be transported. Are they funny, sad, loaded with tension, dramatic, ridiculous, etc. Background music should never feature lyrics as they distract from the spoken voice in the foreground. Try to find copyright free instrumental music online. A list of websites offering copyright-free music can be found at the end of this document. Let the children analyze the complete piece of music they’ve decided on to find the perfect section for the purpose. Encourage them to find punctuators10 in the selected piece of music and use them to put a special emphasis on the key elements of the scene. Applying more than one piece of music can be used for similar purposes. The scene’s mood is changing: underline it with a change in music. You also can use TamTam to create your own background music. Experiment with the atmosphere that is transported by various instruments, keys, chords, or sequences. Use Audacity to mix the background music with the voices. See also chapter 3.10 and 4.1.


This could be a key change, a change in speed, a drum fill, a break, etc.


The following sources are recommended for further reading:

Miell, Dorothy, MacDonald, Raymond, Hargreaves, David J., Musical Communication, (Chapter 3 - Music and the Auditory System, chapter 4 - The Perception of Musical Tones), Bruce H. Siegel, Creative Radio Production (Chapter 9 - Mixing [Background Music]), Salas Pilco, Zdenka Zobeida, The XO Laptop in the Classroom, (TamTamMini)


3.7 Creating soundFX— additional module, beginners

Art & crafts Training the children’s creativity, training the children’s craftsman skills


XO Laptop, a variety of materials, Record, Audacity, TamTamSynthlab

Before the children start producing the soundFX, they should determine which sounds exactly will be needed. They need to read the script and mark all the positions where soundFX will be required or useful to create some atmosphere. Often, the trivial and obvious sounds such as footsteps or closing doors will vivify your play. Let them create a list of the necessary soundFX. Only use the effects that you have in an existing library if they really fit. Otherwise rather create new ones. There are a couple of easy and very effective methods to produce certain soundFX. Twisting cellophane can be applied to simulate crackling fire11 , squeezing a box of corn starch simulates footsteps in snow very realistically. Other soundFX need a little more preparation or have to be tinkered. A crash-box can be built, to simulate the sound of breaking things. A big can filled with stones, glass, wood, and metal. Experiment with different materials, different sizes of cans, metal cans, plastic cans... Other boxes that could become handy are a gravel hoof box, a wooden box filled with gravel to simulate steps and horses, or a bell box, a wooden box with a bell and a buzzer. During our workshop, the children really loved to create sounds. We did neither have the time nor the necessity to tinker effect boxes. Often, the children came up with ideas of their own. If there is plenty of time, it might be a very interesting experience for the children to build a couple of these boxes. As an alternative to the manually produced sounds, you could also try to produce these sounds electronically using TamTamSynthlab. This requires much expertise though, to produce acceptable results. There are a couple of websites offering advice or even pre-produced soundFX if everything else fails. A list of these can be found at the end of the document.
The following sources are recommended for further reading:

Palermo, Tony,,


Sometimes it helps when the spoken dialog helps the listener to correctly perceive these sounds.


Bruce H. Siegel, Creative Radio Production (Chapter 15 - Radio Drama)


3.8 The workings of the human ear— additional module, beginners

Biology Knowledge about the workings of the human ear XO Laptop Etoys, Scratch, Browse

Let the students research the workings of the human ear. What are the tasks of each part? Which of its parts are moving? Which part starts the movement? How is the movement translated into another form of energy? What are the similarities and differences between a microphone and the human ear? The human ears three main sections are the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. A sound wave enters through the outer ear’s ear canal. The outer ear consists of the ear flap, also called auricle or pinna, and the ear canal, which extends up to the eardrum. The eardrum, also called tympanic membrane, is stretched tightly over the end of the ear channel and marks the beginning of the middle ear. When the sound wave hits the eardrum, the eardrum will start to vibrate. This vibration will be passed to the hammer, onto the anvil, and from there to the stirrup. These are the three little bones in your middle ear, in the tympanic cavity to be exact, which are also called malleus, incus, and staples (see figure 15). Then, the vibrations are transformed into releases of neurotransmitter substance and finally nerve impulses in the cochlea, which also marks the beginning of the inner ear. More questions to be explored might be the frequency range of the human ear, the hearing loss of humans during their lifetime, how this is influenced by listening to loud music, etc. Let the students visualize their findings in Etoys or Scratch.

Figure 15: The human ear.


The following sources are recommended for further reading:

Kropp, Wolfgang, The human Ear and its function Salas Pilco, Zdenka Zobeida, The XO Laptop in the Classroom, (Activity 07 - Spreading the customs of our community [How to create a slideshow using Scratch Activity])


3.9 Historical context— additional module, all levels

History Knowledge about certain relevant historic events XO Laptop Labyrinth, Write, FotoToon, Etoys, Scratch Choose a certain historical episode or an important event in the history of your country. Let the children research the circumstances. Discuss the circumstances from different points of view. Let them write a story, create an animation in Etoys or Scratch, a FotoToon comic, or a book in Etoys about the event. Use these materials as a basis to write a radio play. Write provides the ability to work collaboratively on the same document. Collaboratively working on a document requires much discipline and trust among the students.

The following sources are recommended for further reading:

Salas Pilco, Zdenka Zobeida, The XO Laptop in the Classroom, (Activity 07 - Spreading the customs of our community [How to create a slideshow using Scratch Activity]) Salas Pilco, Zdenka Zobeida, The XO Laptop in the Classroom, (Activity 12 - Creating active essays with Etoys)


3.10 Mixing and Effects— additional module, advanced

Learning to work with audio editing software, training decision making, training teamwork


XO Laptop, headphones, y-adapter, USB stick or SD card Audacity

Mixing the recordings into a final radio play is a rather complex task that requires technical knowledge, creativity, and much concentration. You would not want to do this with 30 noisy students running around. Very young students will most probably lack the necessary patience and tranquility to be successfully working on this task. So this is only recommended for the last year of primary or secondary education. Let the students work in groups of two, provide them with two headphones and a y-adapter so that both can listen to the same sound. If you do not have headphones, you can also separate the groups physically, so that they do not disturb each other. They will most certainly need additional storage space due to the amount of data that has to be handled. On the XO, the only currently available tool that can handle mixing the separate samples in to a whole radio play is Audacity. Alone to store temporary files, Audacity requires extra storage. Audacity is hard to handle as it has a couple of usability issues, most of them will be hard to solve as they are connected to the XO’s small screen. See chapter 4.1 for more details on working with Audacity. Owed to the small screen, mixing complex audio files will always be a challenging task on the XO. So it might ease your work trying to find a local community radio to collaborate with. Ask them to do the mix for you, or even better ask them to send an experienced sound engineer (with his equipment) to help the children. If you do not have an alternative, doing the final mix on the XO using Audacity is possible though. Once you get accustomed to it is not as bad. Mixing a radio play mainly consists of three components. First, cleaning the recordings— the XO produces a click sound at the beginning of each recording that needs to be removed, normalizing their volume, removing noises and click sounds, etc12. Second, placing the separate recordings of the scenes one after the other in time. If there are more than one takes of a certain scene the best take has to be selected. If necessary, certain parts of a scene can be taken from one take while others are taken from another take of the same scene. The third component is to add the recorded or downloaded soundFX and the background music in

See chapter 4.1


parallel to the according scene. Audacity offers a possibility to work with tracks to accomplish this. Keeping the number of tracks small helps to keep the project usable. Usually, the mix will consist of about four layers. The actors always have to be in the foreground. In the background there are ambient sounds— traffic noises or the sounds of a packed café, punctuators— shots, slammed doors, crashes, and background music. Don’t overdo it. Punctuators will be a little more in the foreground than the ambient sound or the music. Let the children listen very carefully if the actors are easy to understand, advise them to rather take the soundFX more to the back (decreasing their volume). It is important that the final product has been considered during the whole recording process. Editing can only do a little repair work. It can’t convert a whisper into a shout. Consider that the recording’s final level consists of the sum of the parallel levels, do not set the foreground to the maximum possible. All the recorded material has to be available in enough copies for each of the groups. Create a contest for the best mix, let a jury of parents, local “celebrities”, or students select the best version. Make this task optional, only those children who are not faint at heart and really into the topic should be working on it. For all the others, it will be a very frustrating experience.


4 The Activities
4.1 Audacity
On the newer XO builds, the ones that have Gnome preinstalled in parallel, Audacity comes preinstalled. It has to be started from the Terminal though (open the Terminal, type in audacity) and its user interface is a little too complex for the XOs small screen. Many texts on labels, buttons, and menus are either too small or cropped. Audacity seems to run a little more stable under Gnome than under Sugar. There, its interface also is slightly better usable. Though the following steps and screenshots have been taken under Sugar, it is strongly recommended to work under Gnome. The following applies for both settings.

Starting the activity

Figure 16: Starting Audacity from the Terminal

The reported error (see figure 16) does not seem to be essential as Audacity works anyway. Under Gnome, you can either use the Terminal as well, or you can select Audacity from the Applications->Sound&Video menu. Audacity requires plenty of disk space; therefore, it is preferable to have a USB stick available as the XO’s remaining free “disk” space is scarce. See figures 18 and 19 on how to adFigure 17: Audacity disk space warning

just the preferences to use the USB stick to store temporary files.

Setting the preferences to use a temporary directory on a USB stick or SD card

Select the item Preferences in the Edit menu. You will have to scroll down to the end of the menu to find the item as it does not quite fit on the screen. A dialog will pop up. Select Directories and click on the Choose... button. Without setting the temporary files directory to a di-


rectory on a USB stick, a couple of effects will result in erasing your recording instead of applying the effect. Create a new .audacity_temp directory when asked (figure 19) and restart Audacity.

Figure 18: Select Preferences in the Edit menu

Figure 19: Adjust the preferences


Clicking on the record button (figure 20-➊) automatically creates a new stereo track (figure 20-➋) and starts recording. The recording level is displayed as a blue curve (figure 20-➌). The level in figure 20 is my voice in a normal conversational loudness, speaking directly into the built-in microFigure 20: Recording with Audacity

phone with a distance of about 30 centimeters (1 foot). As you can easily see the level is

very low. As previously mentioned it is recommended to use an external microphone to improve the quality of recordings.


Selecting parts of a recording

Select the Selection Tool (figure 20-➊) and click within a track. Drag from one point to another to select the portion between these points, double click the track to select all of it. To select portions of more than one track, start dragging in one of the tracks and keep dragging to the next one, see figure 21. All effects, etc., will now only be applied to the seFigure 20

lected parts of the tracks. The selec-

tion can be copied, pasted, cut, split cut or trimmed.

Trimming the selection removes the unselected parts of a selected track. If the recording contains multiple tracks, trimming affects only those tracks, which are at least partially selected. To trim a selection select the item Trim from the Edit menu. Recording on the XO often begins with a click sound, see figure 22. This needs to

Figure 21:

➊ - Start dragging ➋ - Stop dragging ➌ - Selection

be trimmed. Also consider this when recording. Start the recording some seconds before the actors start to speak, make them wait for the click.
Cut, Split Cut

Cut removes the selection and moves those parts of the recording, which are to the right of the selection, to the left to close the gap. Split Cut removes the selection but keeps the gap. Both items can be found in the Edit menu.
Copy, Paste

There is not much to say about copying, select and choose the item Copy in the Edit menu. You can either paste into an existing track or by creating a new track. To paste into an existing track, select the
Figure 22

Selection Tool, and click to the point where you want to insert the


copied part. If there is content to the right of the insertion point, this content will be moved to the right, see figure 23. If all the tracks are deselected (click into the empty space below the tracks to do this) pasting will create a new track.

Normalizing the level of a recording, lifts the level of the loudest sound in the recording to the possible maximum without distortion. The levels of the other sounds in the recording are lifted proportionally. A recording as the one in figure 24 should be normalized to make it audible. The prize that has to be paid for this is that all noises also will be amplified and have to be removed later on. To normalize a recording select the item Normalize from the Effects menu. As the click sound at the beginning of the recording is almost at the maximum level of normalization, it has to be removed before the recording is normalized, otherwise normalizing will have no effect.
Noise Removal
Figure 23:

➊ - Insertion point ➋ - Inserted content ➌ - Content right to the insertion point has been moved
further to the right

To further improve the quality of your recording, remove the previously amplified noise. To do this select
Figure 24:

➊ - Original ➋ - Normalized

the item Noise Removal from the Effects menu. A dialog will appear that asks for a definition of noise. Return to your track and try to find the purest portion of the

sound that should be removed. Select it. Choose Noise Removal from the effects menu again and click on the button Get Noise Profile in the dialog. Now select the portion of your recording where you want the noise to be removed. Again select Noise Removal from the Effects menu this time click on the OK button, see figure 25:


Figure 25:

➊ - The original sound ➋ - The click at the beginning of the recording has been removed, the recording has been normalized ➌ - The portion of the recording that contains the purest example of noise has been selected.
Select Effects->Noise Removal now and click on the Get Noise Profile button

➍ - The complete track has been selected, and the noise has been removed

Moving the recording on the timeline

Select the Time Shift Tool (see figure 20-➋), the cursor will change to a little double headed arrow. By clicking and dragging you can now move the part of your recording, which is under the cursor. You can move this portion either horizontally in time, vertically between tracks, or both. The final mix of your project can be exported in a variety of file formats including .wav, .aiff, and .mp3.
Figure 26: Moving recordings on the timeline

You can find a lot more information in the Audacity section of the FLOSS Manuals,
Bugs that have been met

• Audacity has failed to record more than a couple of seconds under build 852, this bug seems to have been fixed under build 860,


• there are issues with playing back recordings when Audacity is started from Sugar’s Terminal activity on the XO 1 (build 860). Audacity does not find an audio output device. Switch to Gnome and run it from there to solve the problem.
Free alternatives on other computer platforms:

Audacity Audacity Audacity, Jokosher

4.2 Browse
Free alternatives on other computer platforms:

Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc. Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc. Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc.


4.3 FotoToon
FotoToon is a little tool to create photo stories. Import a picture and add some speech bubbles. A variety of bubbles for speaking, thinking, whispering, and shouting are available. The text in the bubbles can be edited in content, font size, font family, and color. It exports images in png format. Figure 27 shows FotoToon’s Globes tab and the exported result. The Button with the smiley (top left) lets you import images, the next buttons add a variety of globes, or speech bubbles, the button with the two round arrows lets you turn the beginning of the globe. The button on the right is to delete a bubble or image. FotoToon is currently still in development and has a couple of bugs but it is frequently improving and even in its current state fun to play around with.

Figure 27: FotoToon


4.4 JAMedia, JukeBox, Radio
JAMedia is the successor of CeibalRadio. It is developed in Uruguay and is currently available in Spanish only as far as I can see. This should not be much of a problem, as it is easy enough to use. JAMedia plays wma, ogg, wav, and mp3 files. It also offers a list of preselected online radio stations, which can be played directly from within the activity. The file chooser doesn’t show the Journal but the underlying file system which is somehow inconsistent for a Sugar activity. JAMedia also plays videos. JukeBox plays ogg files. Its behavior is a little strange as it does not seem to allow to select a new file before the previously selected one has finished playing. It features a visualizer that seems to consume much of the XO’s resources. It is running rather slow, and the activity is somewhat unresponsive. Radio is supposed to play online radio and mp3s. I tried it for a couple of times with various files. Most of the time it just quit without a further notice. I did not manage to get it playing a single note. This activity still has a long way to go to be of any use.
Free alternatives on other computer platforms:

iTunes, VLC VideoLan Client, Quicktime iTunes, VLC VideoLan Client, Quicktime VLC VideoLan Client, (if you are using Wine the other possibilities under Mac, Windows will be available as well)


4.5 Labyrinth
The Labyrinth activity lets you easily create mind maps. Just click on the screen and a new box will be added as a child of the currently selected box at the position of your click. You can edit the content and the size of the boxes. You can draw in the boxes. You can even add images. Some rather important features require a somehow obscure user interaction. To drag boxes around you have to right click and drag the box. Clicking the left mouse button and dragging lets you create a box of a certain size. Dragging boxes that contain an image might take some time. A complete list of keyboard and
Figure 28: The Labyrinth activity.

mouse shortcuts is available on the activities SugarLabs page13. The maps can be exported in pdf and in png format.

Free alternatives on other computer platforms:

A couple of online tools, such as, are available for a similar purpose. Labyrinth is available under Gnome as well.



4.6 Measure
This activity provides the ability to measure sound and other signals. It enables the user to capture images of the waveforms, even whole series of these images. The slider on the right only adjusts the display of the waveform, not the recording level.

Free alternatives on other computer platforms:

Audacity and other recording tools provide measuring of the input level themselves.
Figure 29: Measure

4.7 Record
This activity allows the user to take photographs and to record video and audio. The outcomes of recordings are saved as files and will also be written to the Journal. Neither photographs nor audio files are provided with consecutive numbers when they are written to the Journal, which results in many files with identical names. The files will not be appended to the Journal before the user either has switched to the Journal or has closed the activity.
Figure 30:

➊ - Select Audio ➋ - Select the duration of your recording ➌ - Start the recording

Therefore, the timestamp provided by the Journal is not of much help either. Even if renaming audio files from within Record is a little cumbersome (see figures 31 and 32), it is strongly recommended to follow the steps that are described below to add custom names to the audio recordings. Otherwise sorting and searching the recordings later on will be a very tedious task and most certainly result in the loss of data.


Figure 31:

➊ - When the recording has been saved a
thumbnail will appear to represent it.

➋ - Clicking on this thumbnail will open the recordings detail view.

➌ - Play button. ➍ - Clicking on the info icon will open the recordings meta-info view. See next picture.

When the recording is started you will hear a crackling noise, the start button will change its color to red, and the progress bar will begin to grow. On the XO-1 it might take a couple of seconds from clicking the button till the recording really starts. Stay patient, do not start clicking around as this might stop the recording again. It is important to consider this when recording actors. Make them wait until the recording has started.
Figure 32:

➊ - Rename the file

Record does neither provide any means of adjusting the audio input yet, nor does it display the recorded audio signal. Recording is as easy as pushing the start button. The output of the video camera is displayed for ornamental issues only. This might be irritating to your students as it takes them some time to figure out that this is the tool for audio recording. See also:

Free alternatives on other computer platforms:

Audacity Audacity Audacity, Jokosher


4.8 Speak
Speak is a little activity that speaks what you type, you can select the language from a wide variety of choices. I have not tested them all, but at least Spanish, English, French, and German are providing surprisingly good results. Besides this feature, which really can prove to be quite useful when no other sources of foreign languages are around, it offers a couple of gimmicks such as changing the number of eyes or the form of the mouth, the pitch, and the speed of the voice. The children loved to fool around
Figure 33: Speak

with it which can get rather exhausting after a while :)

Free alternatives on other computer platforms:

Text to Speech provided by OS Text to Speech provided by OS mbrola


4.9 TamTamMini
Adapted from “The XO Laptop in the Classroom” by Sdenka Zobeida Salas Pilco. The activities user interface consists of a rhythm generator on the left and an instrument selector on the right. To start the rhythm generator, select one of the drum sets (figure 34-➊), and adjust the sliders for speed, pattern, and volume (figure 34-➋) according to your needs. Click the Play button (figure 34-➌). To play an instrument, select one of the list (figure 34-➍) and use the keyboard to play it. The bottom row
Figure 34: TamTamMini

(figure 34-➎) enables you to show or hide certain groups of instruments to choose

from. See figure 35 for the keyboard layout.

Figure 35: TamTamMini Keyboard Activate/deactivate the preview of sounds Play the higher octave with the selected sound Play the lower octave with the selected sound Create music loop. Keep pressed while pressing sound keys Play created music loop synchronized to the drum beat


4.10 TamTamSynthLab
SynthLab is an educational activity that is meant to provide an environment to explore the physics of sound, it consists of a workbench at the center of the screen to create the circuits, a bank of modules at the bottom of the screen, and the info display at the right side of the screen. It also comes provided with a couple of presets to give an idea of the possibilities. Use the keyboard to play the created sounds. Three types of modules are available: • Sources— to generate sound (the green boxes, figure 36-➊), • processors or filters— to modify the sound (the blue boxes, figure 36-➋), • controllers— to control the behavior of the sound in time and to regulate how the filters will modify the sound (the blue boxes, figure 36-➌).

Figure 36

Figure 37

Figure 38

Figure 39

To add any of the modules to the workbench, drag and drop it from the bank of modules. To begin with, choose a sound source. The red icon at the bottom of the workbench symbolizes the loudspeaker. The output of the source needs to be connected to the input of the loudspeaker, other wise you will not be able to hear a thing. To do that, click on the red dot at the bottom of the sound source (figure 37-➊) and then on the red dot at the top of the loudspeaker (figure 37-➋). The two elements will now be connected (figure 38-➊). The info display provides a selector to choose the type of sound source (figure 38-➋), four sliders to ad!


just the source’s settings (figure 38-➌), and some textual information about the selected sound source (figure 38-➍). Each of these sliders controls one of the sound source’s controller inputs (figure 39-➋). Hovering over the slider will show more detailed information on the adjustments that can be made with that particular slider (figure 39-➊). Instead of statically adjusting the controller inputs you can also connect a controller (one of the yellow modules) to the source’s controller input. Figure 40 shows a simple setup with one source, one modifier, and two controllers. The sources output signal is passed to the modifier— a distortion in this case— and from there to the loudspeaker. Always make
Figure 40

sure that the loudspeaker is connected to the source one way or the other. One of the controllers, an attack,

decay, sustain, release (ADSR) envelope, is controlling the source’s carrier frequency input, while the other, a low frequency oscillation (LFO), controls the distortion’s gain (or volume) controller. Figure 41 shows a selection of available controllers, sources, and modifiers.

1. ADSR Envelope - controls the sounds volume over time, 2. Trackpad— modify the sound using the Trackpad. This one is for the vertical direction, there is also a control for the horizontal direction, 3. Random— generates a random sequence without repetition,
Figure 41

4. LFO— low frequency oscillation. An inaudible pulsing wave to add vibrato or tremolo effects,


5. 6.

Sound sample— provides a selection of prerecorded sound samples, Pluck— an electronic string instrument,

7. Noise— exactly what it says, 8. VCO— voltage controlled oscillator, combines the shape of two waves, Furthermore there are FM synthesizers, buzzes, voices, grains, and additive synthesizers available.



9. Distortion— creates harsh sounds by deforming their waves, 10. Filter— brighten, or darken a sound, 11. Delay— repeats the sound over and over, 12. Chorus— plays copies of the sound with variations. Next to these modifiers there are equalizers, harmonizers, reverbs, and ring modulators available. A maximum of four sources, four modifiers, and four controllers can be added to the workbench. See also for a video tutorial. This tutorial is a little outdated as it features a rather old user interface.
Free alternatives on other computer platforms:

SuperCollider, or miniAudicle/ChucK might be mentioned here. On the commercial side, there is Reaktor. Because of their complexity, these tools are not really suitable to work with children though.

4.11 Write
Free alternatives on other computer platforms:

Open Office, TextEdit, GoogleDocs, EtherPad Open Office, GoogleDocs, EtherPad Open Office, AbiWord, GoogleDocs, EtherPad

Except for the web based applications, GoogleDocs and EtherPad, none of the alternatives allows collaboration the way that Write does.


Radio Dramas
The items on the following list of links have not been tested if they are appropriate for children. Please decide for yourself which of these might fit your needs.

Radijojo - the first episode of the series on the UN millennium goals Weltprojekte&punkt=weltprojekte&audio=radijojoonelaptopperchild&audioname=Radijojo %20+%20One%20Laptop%20per%20Child

English - Recordings

Pinocchio and Foot, radio plays based on a comic book Fish Tales: deep sea stories told by children, featuring the Cleaner Wrasse, the Anthias, the Conger Eel, the Black Tip Shark and other fishy characters. Willie the Squowse, Willie is part squirrel, part mouse, and part Robin Hood. Classic Canadian 1950s radio play. Tarzan. The 1950s radio shows. They got some issues as you might imagine. Collection of 1950s radio shows, featuring Thin Man, Sherlock Holmes, Dam-busters, Nick Carter, etc. Collection of old time radio shows, featuring Western, Science Fiction, Crime Stories, etc. Collection of classic radio dramas, featuring Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, Arsenic and Old Lace, Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland, The Count of Monte Christo, and many more.


Billy Brown, the bear. Suitable for smaller children. Dylan Thomas - Under Milk Wood BBC Afternoon Play BBC World Drama NuBeat, collection of radio dramas

English - Scripts

Radio plays by Steve Walker, BBC. You will find the texts of the plays here, not recordings. Collection of skits and plays that could be adapted as radio plays. Dylan Thomas - Under Milk Wood


Collection of “radio novelas” and a variety of other radio content. Approved by the Unesco. Historias de Melesio. Radio novelas of the Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN) funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). iospanish-radio-novelas-about-home-pesticide


How to create soundFX, Tony Palermo, soundFX producer and educator, Los Angeles The Foley Artist How to build some of the devices Writing Radio Plays

Copyright free music and soundFX
Free downloads, different copyright terms. Please check individually. ,


Page 1: Collectie SPAARNESTAD PHOTO/Wiel van der Randen, through Nationaal Archief, Creative Commons Page 5: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Public Domain Page 8: Staubitz, Creative Commons Page 12: Staubitz, Creative Commons Page 13: Staubitz, Creative Commons Page 14: Staubitz, Creative Commons ! Nevetsjc,, Creative Commons Page 15 - 16: Staubitz, Creative Commons Page 17: Staubitz, Creative Commons ! Kathleen Wilson of Arizona FAP directing radio program written and put on by children of Junior Artists Club, Courtesy of FDR library,, Public Domain Page 18: Staubitz, Creative Commons Page 23: WPA worker instructs children in mounting the day's catch of insects at the Children's Museum in Brooklyn, N.Y. , Courtesy of FDR library,, Public Domain ! Anatomy_of_the_Human_Ear.svg - Chittka L, Brockmann, Sgbeer, Creative Commons

Page 25: NASA, Public Domain Page 28 - 32: Staubitz, Creative Commons Page 34: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Public Domain Page 36 - 39: Staubitz, Creative Commons Page 40: Staubitz, Creative Commons !, Public Domain

Page 41- 42: Staubitz, Creative Commons

The Comics have been created on the XO, using the FotoToon activity.

Siegel, Bruce H., Creative Radio Production, Focal Press, Boston, London, 1992 Aspinall, Richard, a manual for training Radio programme production, Unesco, Paris, 1973 O’Donnell, Lewis B., Benoit, Philip, Hausman, Carl, Modern Radio Production, Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, 1993 Prießnitz, Horst P., Das englische “radio play” seit 1945 - Typen, Themen und Formen, Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin, 1978 Lewis, Peter (ed.), Radio Drama, Longman, London, NewYork, 1981 Salas Pilco, Sdenka Zobeida, La laptop XO en el aula, Puno, 2009 Palermo, Tony, Audio Theatre / Radio Drama / Sonic Storytelling,, last accessed: 01/27/ 2011 Miell, Dorothy, MacDonald, Raymond, Hargreaves, David J. (eds.), Musical Communication, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005 Kropp, Wolfgang, The human ear and its function, ljudbok/specialister/kapitel_3/rubrik3/3hearing.pdf , last accessed: 01/29/2011


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