My dear RuthieG. Sorry you are so tied up with many things right now. I hope they are all pleasant and fun things.
Of course you are right about the Audacity gain. Using it is a shot in the dark until the file is exported, when the results of the applied gain become visible and audible. In fact, it is very strange that something like that, which is built into the program and not an add-on effect is NOT immediately visible when applied. Hmmmmmm? Oh well forget it and lets just use Amplify.
Anyway, here are two sample videos I've done. This would be my approach to instructing new recorders about the basics of microphone usage, generating sufficient volume, noise reduction, and the 50 other things that flummox people new to computers and/or recording. The Wiki pages are wonderful and extremely instructive; this would just be another arrow in our quiver. Some people respond better to short videos than to written instructions. (like me) The number of videos that could be produced is of course limited only by the need and our imagination. (and my imaginative spelling! geee, I am embarrassedddd)
1) The Volume slider in Windows XP
2) Desirable audio strength in Audacity & the Audacity volume slider
Done without a real script (and with lots of lip smacking and popping
) they are presented merely as samples of How To videos that could be produced.
I am working on a microphone usage video and VISTA, Windows7, and Ubuntu volume control ones as well. and noise reduction.