I am working on a series of blog posts for the summer called Five for Friday.
Today I want to share my favorite five Web 2.0 tools to record oral communication in the classroom.The biggest shift in oral assessment for my class occurred because of the variety of web 2.0 tools that can be used to record students. I still believe the best way to practice the language is in person, with a partner or in small groups, but the best way to formally assess a large group of students (at the same time) or gauge their progress is by using the following tools. Each one will fulfill a different need.
Google Voice My students use this tool weekly. They record their homework on it. I will ask them to record textbook prompted conversations with it occasionally, and I used it on my semester exam this year. GV is free for me and the students, but does require you to have cell phone connectivity in your classroom. Most of my students have a cell phone, and GV will also work with a landline, so if a student left their phone at home, they can use our department office phone or borrow a classmate’s. The voicemail will record up to @90 seconds, and is very clear to listen to, even when all my students are recording at the same time. You can read about how I set up the oral portion to my final exam here.
Voicethread My class gets a lot of mileage from Voicethread as well. There is a little bit of a learning curve so I phase it in over the course of 3-4 weeks. I expose them to VT by having them do a listening activity with it first. Then they create accounts & record a comment on another VT. Finally they will create their own VT for a formal assessment when they describe things they used to do when they were in pre-school. Several students will use this as a homework option, and more will use it for our “How- to…” presentations. This tool works for oral work that has been scripted, planned and is more formal in nature. It is also free up to 3 VTs per account, and will require microphones. One of my students found the Voicethead App on her iPhone easier to navigate & I know there is also an iPad App.
Lingt Language I did not use this website this year, but as I was preparing for an end of school inservice that described it, I regretted not using it. It is very user friendly for the kids to use. I ran into a couple of glitches setting up one of my assignments, and found the support to be very helpful. You provide a prompt for your students like a photo, short movie clip or even questions you want them to hear & respond to. The student can then record their response and submit using an email address. They do not need an account. You will need to have computers & microphones. The kids can listen to what they said and record again if they need to. When I used it previously, I figured out I needed to give them a time frame to complete their task, otherwise students will write out & then read their response, and I want to use this more for “off the top of their head” kind of communication. The really cool feature of Lingt is that you can record or type in feedback for each individual student & send it to their email. Lingt has a free account you can try out or you can purchase an upgrade.
Cell phone Record App If I am not mistaken most smart phones have the capability of being used as a portable recorder. I know iPhones and iPods have free apps that can be downloaded and used to capture short conversations. My students have used thses in the past when they have interviewed native Spanish speakers outside of the classroom or interviewed upper level students for a homework assignment. The student would then send the recording to me via email or depending on the assignment, would play it for me in class.
Audio Dropbox from CLEAR This is another tool that I have used in the past because it is so easy to use with my students, but I have replaced it with Google Voice. This could be an option for those classrooms that can’t use cell phones. The teacher creates a dropbox with a prompt and can embed it on a web site. Students would then record their responses and type their names to identify themselves. When I used it a couple years ago, it was not as media rich as Lingt, but it worked well, and it is free.
Audacity Alright, so this is #6. I can’t complete this post without mentioning Audacity. Some teachers love this tool. I have used this with small groups of students, but I’ll be honest, it has a learning curve, especially if you want the kids to save the file as an MP3. Part of the issue might be that I don’t find mixing programs to be very intuitive, and I am not comfortable trouble-shooting some of the issues. Without a doubt it is a very powerful program, and it is free. I could see students producing very professional podcasts with Audacity. Here are examples of a podcasts on self-selected topics my students put together a couple years ago.
What are your favorite tools to record oral communication?