Brief summary of activity

This is a very practical activity that would take the participants through the necessary steps to familiarise themselves with the use of portable recorders and ensure the production of high quality recordings.

Aim of the activity

The following activity will serve to familiarise the participants with the proper use of portable recorders to produce high quality recordings.

Expected Outcomes

Participants will be able to demonstrate knowledge and skills of:
a) recording using portable recorder
b) playing back recordings on a portable recorder.

experience and skills required

practical knowledge of the use of portable recorder.

infrastructure, setting, resources

training room and/or studios.


45 minutes


portable recorders, headphones, microphones, smartphones, projector, laptop

How the activity should take place

Tutor introduces the portable recorders/mobile phone app to the learners - they will be using this piece of equipment/software throughout the course.
If possible project an image of the recorder/app so that the whole group can clearly see the controls on the device.
Tutor Input:
Explain briefly how useful field recording units are to a radio station.
Tutor Info:
Introduce the group to the basic controls and their function.
Depending on the type of device this will include:
a) Powering on the unit, location of batteries and mains power in
b) Checking there is a memory card inserted
c) Connecting a microphone, or using the in-built mic
d) Pressing record (and where to see how much recording time is left)
e) Pressing record again to start (time counting up, and on-screen levels)
f) Ending the recording by pressing stop playback
Allow learners to see and handle the recorder - ideally there should be enough recorders to be shared, one between each two learners (one per learner in case of vision impaired/blind.)
Explain issues that may arise when using recorders. Distribute this handout at end of module. (note a station specific handout could replace this handout).
Tutor Info:
These issues may include:
• Format the memory card to prevent corruption of files
• Always record a short piece of ambient noise, then
• Play back the recording to ensure there are no faults
• Try to avoid interfering background noise, i.e. clock ticking, TV, etc.
• Beware of echoes that may be in the room; Use your headphones
• Check meter and adjust recording and volume levels as required
• Be aware of handling noise and anything touching the unit/mic
• Always have spare batteries if not using mains power

Recommended max. number of participants and trainees to trainers ratio

2 per portable recorder (for visually impaired and learning difficulties, 1 participant per portable recorder)

Risk and possible adaptation

Allow for extra time and prepare a verbatim full description of portable recorder for vision impaired/blind people (see handout instruction portable recorder Olympus LS 14. It is not necessary to explain the full menu and settings of the recorder, only those which are essential to guaranty a good audio product.
Remember that this group of participants will need to learn one by one the portable recorder controls by heart by manipulating them. Allow for enough time and consider that it might be necessary for the trainer or the assistant trainer to go over the portable recorder controls with them. It would be a good idea to e-mail the verbatim description to the participants so they can go over the controls themselves at home.
For trainees with learning difficulties, it is possible to work on pairs, but to ensure that they have learnt how to operate the portable recorder, propose that the pairs interview each other, with the interviewer operating the portable recorder. This can be done on the same room, or just by allowing them to record on different spaces during the building, which would also allow a discussion on ambiance noise.

Tips for Trainers

Try to keep it simple and practical by explaining basic use for portable recorders, how to record, playback and ensure that the recording levels are right. Make the workshop as practical as possible.

No specific requirements. This activity can be delivered to any group, and by eliminating any visual elements and allowing a more tactile approach, to blind people.

Analysis and evaluation

Do the participant remember how to record and playback?
Can they attach a microphone to a portable recorder?
Do they remember how to monitor recording levels and how to ensure recording is not distorted?
Do they know how to operate the volume of headphones?


This could be done immediately before and after the interviewing workshop, as portable recorders can be used. It should be combined with the handout interviewing tips.
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