[pulledquote]I used to be a language teacher, and one of my main problems in the classroom was always to get students to speak (in the foreign language, that is). There would never be enough time, students would be too shy, etc. I wish I had access to the newly released Moodle audio recorder assignment type[/pulledquote]
Is the Moodle audio recorder any good?
There have been other attempts to integrate an audio recorder in Moodle, some requiring technical know-how and others that are no longer supported and/nor working with newer versions of Moodle. This new audio recorder assignment uses Flash player 10.1 and is compatible with Moodle 1.9.x to Moodle 2.1.x so anyone accessing those Moodle flavours with a computer running Windows, Mac or Linux should be fine – that’s pretty much every Moodle user out there. Word of warning, this will not work on iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. In a few words it works, and it works well!
What can the audio recorder be used for in Moodle?
One thing you must keep in mind is that the audio recorder is an assignment type, so it’ll show with the rest of your assignment types; the recorder is NOT available anywhere else (at the moment anyway).
- Oral practice at home. Always short of time in the classroom? Here is your solution.
- Oral assignments. This could even be used under controlled conditions at school, much the same as the old ‘language labs’.
- Exam preparation. As a language teacher, I was always amazed at how little students listen to their own voices. This gives them the chance to record themselves and, with clever use of permissions, self-assess their work against a set of pre-defined rubrics.
- Weekly assignments can be used so that student can self-assess their work.
- Teacher can check that instrument practice is done at home
- With clever use of permissions, students could even peer-assess each other’s work/practice
- Some students do not feel so comfortable writing in English, yet it doesn’t mean they’re not full of great ideas. This gives them an extra opportunity to express themselves
What does the Moodle audio recorder look like?
Once you have created your assignment, which is pretty much the same as creating every other type of assignment in Moodle, you are taken to a ‘one-time setup’ of the Flash player, giving you control over recording levels, reduce echo etc. I have found that some of those settings are disregarded by the software however. For example, although I tried to set the recording of my microphone to ‘low’, I still got a fairly distorted recording. These are teething issues and I’m sure the developer will get on to it pretty soon. Once that setup is done, you’ll be prompted with the recording UI. It’s all very simple to use and self-explanatory from there on; Your students will have no problems whatsoever using it.
Overall, the size of the recorded files is pretty reasonable and the quality is relatively good. You can listen to this example [mp3j track=”example-of-a-fileonline-audio.mp3″].
What could be improved with the Moodle audio recorder?
Availability throughout Moodle
This plugin is victim of its own success; it’s so good that you want it to be available throughout Moodle but it’s ‘only’ available as an assignment type. Nanogong is better in the fact that it is available wherever the HTML editor is shown on a page. That means audio could be used to feedback on a student’s piece of work, easily create glossaries with pronunciation, etc. The developer seems to be having issues with the Moodle 2 file management ‘beast’.
Better User Interface
Aside from making it available in ‘more places’ in Moodle, the audio recorder would benefit from having a recording volume dial on the recorder itself, and not just in the settings, as I’m not convinced children and the less confident IT users will feel like fiddling with the settings. On the other hand, I think it’s great that the UI looks so simple, so I hope it doesn’t get cluttered in the future – volume would be enough for me.
Imagine the possibilities if video was added to it?!
I think the developer has done a great job and I am really grateful that he decided to share it with the rest of the Moodle community. I strongly recommend you to install this assignment type as it is quick and easy to get it to work; I’m sure lots of teachers at your school will thank you for it.
Top picture by Stallio