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How to make an audiopath: Experience, tips and advices.

photo 3 audiopathOn Saturday 18th of October Hnutí Brontosaurus, YEE member organisation, opened a new audiopath in Prague. The 8 kilometers long educational path connects 6 memorable trees in Prague 12 and shows visitors the history of the trees and their habitat. The specialty of the path is the audio format of information - visitors can listen to it with their smartphones through QR code. This article will summarize what was needed to do to develop the path and give you a few tips to create your own audiopath if the topic made you interested.

1. The topic
Very important thing is to have a topic important enough to make the effort and interesting enough to attract visitors. Volunteers from Hnutí Brontosaurus realised that in Prague there are many memorable trees (old or important trees protected by law) which even people living in neighbourhood do not know about. We felt the urgency to show people these giants who are witnesses of past and let them know how important trees are for nature as well as for humankind.

2. Team
Do you have a topic? Great, now you have to create a team. You and your team have to feel the same passion about the topic and have to be willing to devote time to create an audiopath. In Hnutí Brontosaurus we were 4 people who were the core of the team and worked on the project for a year and then we had around 20 more people who helped occasionally. In total just the preparation of the audiopath (not counting promo opening and promotion) took around 150 hours of work (very roughly estimated). Do not underestimate this step otherwise you will end up completely exhausted trying to finish the project alone.

3. Fundraising
We did not want to install big walls full of text which are everywhere in natural parks and which nobody reads (especially not children). That´s why we decided for small tags (9x21 cm) which contain just basic information and QR code. So all we needed were 6 tags, 6 wooden columns and a few screws. In total it cost 7500 CZK (300 EUR). That's very affordable price. Nevertheless we also wanted to make a proper promotion (handouts with a map, opening promo action, leaflets), so we needed in total 15000 CZK (600 EUR), which we successfully applied for through a city grant for environmental issues. We had to apply much in advance – last photo 1 audiopathSeptember to start preparation in May.

4. Preparation
The most important phase of the project lasted for about 4 months. Firstly, you have to prepare text basis for the audio. Collect important and interesting information about your topic. Do not hesitate to ask for help among experts, local residents, teachers...they often surprised us with interesting information we could not possibly find on the internet. Also make sure that the text is written in a way you usually speak. Half of the page (Times New Roman, 12) is enough for 2 minutes long audio. People will not listen for longer.
Then find volunteers with nice voices and record the audio. I recorded it with microphone to my computer. I used a free program Audacity – it is very easy to work with during recording as well as editing.
When I had mp3 files I made a video from photos of the trees. I used a free program YouTube Video Maker. Then we uploaded videos on YouTube. I am not sure whether it is the best solution. People often did not have plugin for YouTube in their Android phones and I also made the videos too big so they did not play fluently. We are currently searching for better option. So if you have some tips, let me know.
We placed the YouTube links to our website – one site for each station. The page should be adjusted for smartphones (we still need to work on it, our website structure is too old for it). We also placed the audio track there, so people without internet in phones can download the mp3 beforehand. Then we created the link to our website in tinyURL.com, so we will have a statistic how many people approached the website through QR code.
Finally we created QR code of the link in free online generator (goqr.me) and made a final look of the tag in CorelDRAW Graphics Suite – vector graphic program. In PDF format we send it to the company which prints tags – they made it from DIBOND – a sandwich material. The core is from hard polyethylene and surface from aluminum (0,3 mm).

5. Instalation
We attached the tags to wooden columns (10x10x220 cm). Prepare the columns two weeks before the installation itself – they need to be sharpened on one end, shaven off, painted with antifungal agent and lacquer and have time to dry. Dig a hole half meter deep, place there the column, fill with stones and tamp. The tag should be first stick by two-component glue and then secured with screws.

photo 2 audiopath6. Promotion
You may end on step 5. But it is likely the path will not be noticed. We decided to make a promo-opening day of the path. We prepared a tour with interactive games on every station. Games made the path shorter for children – they were always looking forward to the next task. And they also acknowledged many things about the life and importance of trees. (I can describe the games in another article maybe? Would you be interested? Let me know!). You can find some inspiration e.g. in YEE booklet Games for Nature. To attract people (especially with children) to the opening we organised art competition in cooperation with local schools. Children were excited to see their picture on the "exposition". We also gave leaflets to schools, kindergartens, sport and leisure time centers, to local newspapers and websites about leisure time in Prague. For visitors we printed handouts with information about the audiopath including a map (on recycled paper!). On the opening day there were around 250 visitors and they liked the audiopath as well as the games very much. It was really satisfactory to see that people appreciated all the work we put into the project.           

Would you like to peek how the audiopath looks like? Photos from a terrain are in gallery, website is http://prazskestromy.cz/index.php?p=27

Irena Oupicová

 
 
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