Creating audio: an interview with Ron Leunissen

Ron Leunissen (@Ronald_2008) has several academic degrees in psychology and medicine. He works as a senior advisor in the Nijmegen University Medical Center in The Netherlands. Ron has over 20 years experience with designing & implementing medical education and integrating education with Information Technology in the form of Educational Workflow Management Systems and E-learning.

A drawing of a gramophone with the Words Audio and DigiWriMo2015

flickr photo by Ron Leunissen shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Audio recording of the interview (rough transcript text below that)


  • Introduction

    • Sarah: I  asked Ron Leunissen to be a guest collaborator for #DigiWriMo audio week. We decided on a structured interview by me of Ron as a way of introducing him and his work. This is done by Ron and I Skyping each other and me recording it using Audacity. Ron then cleaned it up.
  • Who are we?

    • Ron
      • I work at the University of Nijmegen helping teachers to develop medical education – we train doctors, dentists and health scientists. One of my hobbies is making music, another is making photos and another for the last 2 years is making digital art.
    • Sarah
      • I work in the Learning Technology Unit at the University of Glasgow, but I am not from a technical background – my first 2 degrees are in Philosophy and I still tutor that a little. I was a church chorister as a child and played in school orchestras – all the sorts of things middle class English children do. I really started producing digital art during my 1st cMOOC, #rhizo14, when I found a bunch of really talented, creative people to collaborate with.
  • (Sarah) Why digital art?

    • (Ron) It’s cheap, and you can throw away the ones you don’t want. Later I started making movies with my iPhone and using the dictaphone on my phone to make audio. I started sharing it on the internet about 2 years ago. The first MOOC (massive open online course) was EDC-MOOC: Education and DIgital Cultures, organized by the University of Edinburgh. That was in January – March 2013.  It ran on the platform of Coursera ( One assignment was to make a digital artefact and that’s how it all started.
  • (Sarah) Tell us about the music you do online

    • (Ron) Well, it started with something Sarah said on Twitter about playing ukulele alone  Kevin and Ron both responded at the same time and that’s how our audio collaboration started – by Kevin singing and playing guitar and Ron doing keyboards, Sarah playing ukulele and singing, and Maha singing.
  • (Sarah) Tell us how that song was recorded.

    • (Ron) We recorded it using Soundtrap, which is a free online music studio that allows asynchronous collaboration. Kevin started by writing the tune, recorded himself singing it and playing guitar and imported it into Soundtrap. Later Ron added some drums and keyboard, Sarah recorded herself playing uke and imported it, and also recorded herself singing and imported that. Maha recorded herself singing and sent it to Kevin to import. Kevin sorted all of the timings and uploaded it to Soundcloud here. We used Soundcloud for our songs in rhizo15 and later I (Ron) used it with Rochelle. In a fairy tale we wrote we had a big fight scene.
    • (Ron) DS106 started as an open online course at the University of Mary Washington in the USA. DS stands for digital storytelling, that’s what the course for the students was and still is about. 106 stands for the code of the course in the curriculum of University of Mary Washington. Every day there is a small assignment that only takes about 20 minutes to do. I share them on Flickr and there is a collaborative community that help each other by sharing hints and tips. We now have an imaginary family – the Burgeron family from Bovine, Texas. We have made animated Gifs from The Prisoner (a UK TV series in the 1960s) and invented a transporter to link to our family.
  • (Sarah) Tell us about John and Mariana’s radio show.

    • (Ron) They do something called the Good Spell show on Sunday afternoons, based on Mariana’s 106 statements about digital art – each Sunday they cover one of these. It’s broadcast on DS106 radio. For example we did a short inbetween project on Goldilocks. We divided the text lines, loaded them on Google Drive as MP3 files and mixed them in Audacity, which is available as a free download.  Sound effects were added last. Even Rochelle’s grandson played a part, the part of the little bear and saying “The End”.
  • (Sarah) Tell us about your collaborative poetry.

    • (Ron) We did something in Rhizo14 that Simon (Ensor) started. The poetry form we used is called Little 11 and we collaborated to make a poem that Kevin mixed together in Soundcloud. It is not difficult – the hard thing is deciding what to do and getting started, That’s where Ds106 helps – doing their daily creates a few times a week helps you to practice – like making up your own version of Happy Birthday. The point is not to be perfect – it’s about sharing a bit of yourself. It is really important to feel safe to try new things – and communities like DS106 are very safe. When somebody shares something I like it, or favourite it – not just because I like it (I always like it!) but to encourage others to go on making digital art. That’s the beautiful thing about these virtual communities.
  • (Sarah) How does somebody get started in collaborative digital art making?

    • (Ron) A good way to start is by getting used to making digital art through participating in online assignments to lower any “fear” for producing digital artifacts and sharing those. DS106’s daily assignments could be a good start. Or the little 11 poems  I mentioned, or to take a fairy tale and collaborate with others to record it.  It might not be perfect, but that’s part of learning. Becoming a member of the open community on Google Plus is good to do too because there one can share artifacts even outside the daily assignments and ask for help from other community members.

An Inspiration: Make Writing … Digital

Write a little 11 poem and record yourself saying it out loud. Share it online (maybe by uploading to Soundcloud).

Can’t write a poem? Why not take one somebody else has written and record it in your own voice? Don’t want to record a poem – why not write one for others to record?
We hope you will share your work across the various Digital Writing Month spaces that you inhabit. That could be right here at the Digital Writing Month blog; at your own blog or writing space; on Twitter with the #DigiWriMo hashtag; in the DigiWriMo Google Plus Community; at the DigiWriMo Facebook page; or wherever you find yourself writing digitally.

Message in a Bottle Prompt

Close up of black dogOver the next several days, much of the nation will be gripped in a polar vortex. Flights will be cancelled. Snow will pile up; bitter cold and ice storms will wreak havoc. Loved ones will be stuck inside. There’s no better time to practice sending messages — of humor, support, wisdom, frankness, or love. And there’s no better way to send those messages than through the digital tools at our fingertips.

This weekend, November 15th and 16th, your challenge is to create unique audio messages that you can or would broadcast. Use Soundcloud or another recording app. Or push even further using Highlight (for iPhone and iPad) to annotate your audio messages with text and image. Record spontaneously, script yourself, sing a song, read a favorite poem… Choose whatever sort of message you want to send, and who you’re going to send it to.

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