October 5, 2011

Easi-Speak Digital Microphone is Simple

One of the benes of being webmaster for Ask a Tech Teacher is I get to review products for tech ed companies. Recently, I was asked to review a digital microphone called Easi-speak USB recorder from Learning digital microphoneResources. I’ve been looking for an easy-to-use microphone for little ones as young as kindergarten that will inspire them to relax, communicate, and be themselves despite the intimidation of being taped. Easi-speak is an MP3 recorder in the shape of a microphone–a great way to make it user-friendly and intuitive to young children. It says it’s appropriate for children age four and up, but I was doubtful. I’ve read lots of reviews of products that claimed that kid-friendly mantle, but couldn’t deliver.

Right out of the box, Easy-speak appeared to be that sort of fun-and-easy educational tool that would meet its promises. It is colorful with bright, obvious buttons, the type that intrigue kindergartners and are intuitive enough for the more precocious of my second graders to figure out on their own. (I like guiding rather than lecturing. For me, it’s a more effective method of teaching.)

The mic is chubby, easy to hold for young hands, with a bright silver top that makes children want to speak into it. I like that the mic comes with a necklace to hang it around the neck, and the USB port cover is attached to the mic so it won’t disappear. It seems Learning Resources understands a child’s curiosity and propensity for distraction.

Here’s something else I love–the mic requires no batteries. You charge it using the USB port of your computer. The port, though, abuts to the microphone, which means it gets too fat to fit into a USB port if your bank of USB ports are (like mine) chock full of other peripherals (iPad, camera, USB drive, printer, etc.) and thus won’t allow the wideness of the mic to fit. Learning Resources solves that by providing an adapter which works wonderfully.

Here are some of the projects we used it on:

  • Second graders taped themselves talking about their background, dreams, favorites, for the annual About Me Powerpoint slideshow
  • The Spanish teacher taped students so they could play it back and listen to their pronunciation. It turned into an effective teaching method that was much more affordable than language teaching competitors that offer this service built into their software
  • Each student taped themselves discussing their roots and uploaded it to Blabberize Me. What fun that was! Their words came out of the mouth of an animal! Watch this:
  • Students in my 8th grade Web 2.0 design class taped themselves and uploaded it to Voki to create a personalized character to introduce their wiki page. All I did was hand them the mic and they figured out the rest. It’s that easy.

While my 8th graders had fun with the bright colors and obvious design of this microphone, you might want the more mature Easi-speak Pro for olders.

Overall, this digital microphone proved to be durable, true-to-its-name, and fun. I keep it on my desk where I can reach it easily because I keep coming up with more ideas on how to use it to extend the reach of my teaching.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.