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AnAudio version of this webpage is given below:

After you read this page downloading and installing the software should take about forty minutes, as the installation can be slightly complex. After that its pretty straight forward and you should have your first clean recording packaged as an mp3 file in about ten minutes.

Audacity, for those who are not familiar with it, is in effect, a word processor for sound. It allows you to record, cut, edit and change the "font" i.e. add special effects to your spoken work. It can be used to record podcasts, and it can also be used for recording and editing soundtracks which you might use with an animation, a movie, or a slide show. It can be downloaded here: AudacityDownload There are versions for windows, Mac, and Linux machines, and there is a link on the page for older windows machines as well as Mac machines running OS9.
The editor allows you to edit and combine tracks, remove umm’s and aggh’s as well as those long pauses while you try and think up what to say next. It also allows you to combine tracks and control the overall volume.
Audacity tutorial page on source forge: Tutorials from Audacity about Audacity
Educational use:
A great tool for generating podcasts and audio for voice overs on slides and movies. It can also be of value for editing student assessment, where you are asking them to make an audio presentation. It can help remove the set up and concluding remarks "are you ready..." and "Is that it, can I turn it off now?..."

Mac Equivalent:
Garage band. This can be the functional equivalent of Audacity however it has a lot more built in features in terms of sound effects, musical instruments etc.
Further Reading
If you are serious about moving further with this tool, the Audacity in education Wiki is the next place to go. There is another tutorial page on this site with an emphasis on education its here: the tutorials page.

Audacity Further readingA nice page with more info.
A ten great uses page
I have video introductions to the download and install process on youtube here:
Short Youtubevideo on downloading and instaling audacity
and here:
Audacity Download instructions with details of Lame
Down loading Lame with audacity allows you to export mp3 files.

If you have any further questions, I have set up a discussion forum for this page, which is here:
Eleven Tools Audacity Forum

Soundcloud. and finally this is a place to put your "meisterworks" when they are done.