Over the past year or two, because I've been learning lots of new things, I've been paying close attention to how my learning happens. Not other people's learning . . . my learning.
I know I'm a print person. I've always been a print person. A perfect day: some clouds, perhaps some rain, a comfy chair, nothing pressing, and a good [trashy] book. Heaven.
When computers came along, I realized I was a text person; it wasn't so much print as it was words and sentences and paragraphs. (I love paragraphs.) I made the transition from paper to pixels pretty easily, although I still have boxes and boxes of print-outs to winnow through and toss. When I'm learning something new, my first impulse is to read the docs or find a book or search the web.
In my writing classes, I produce a lot of text, mostly on web pages: announcements, instructions, assignments, and discussion group entries. I write lots. But I wasn't sure students were reading what I was writing. My web pages were pretty text-dense, so I began to play around with format. I haven't gone over to the dark side yet with bullet-mania, but I'm breaking longer documents into shorter sections, using headings, some indentations, italics and bold. I'm paying closer attention to those pages where I think information and ideas are especially accessible -- looking at them as well as reading them.
I discovered audio not as a listener but as a speaker. I began to pay closer attention to my voice as a writer, and that just led me to recording small snippets of information, mostly as a way of providing additional encouragement to my listeners and conveying enthusiasm for my subject. (Actually, I found I was using too many parentheses, too much elipisis, and way too many exclamation points in my writing, all attempts to make my writing more lively and engaging.) With audio, I explored a wider range of expression and a different register. I still write before I record, but when I know that text will eventually end up as audio, I write differently.
This past week, I learned about "textcasting," tools that that allow a writer to convert text to audio without actually doing any recording. I've seen these links on several blogs I read, but because I'm really a print person, I've never paid them much attention. Today, I created an account at BlueGrind.com to experiment. I suppose it's easy, but something is really "lost in translation." However, it's gotten me thinking about how audio is more than just converting words on the page to something I can hear, and I'm going to add this to my writing toolbox this semester.
I'm sorry. I know textcasting helps those who are visually impaired, but folks-on-the-run are also a big market; I can't imagine listening to anything like this by choice.