This week’s blog is about using audio tools in the classroom: podcasts, voice recordings, and music. Providing exercises that require listening skills can increase comprehension and even improve a student’s reading abilities. The following sites all provide different options for using audio tools in your classroom. Whether it be uploading sound bites, downloading music clips, listening to podcasts or even creating your own images/avatars to accompany audio, the sky really is the limit.
These are both links to websites that provide several educational podcasts. Podcasts are wonderful for classroom use. You can easily print out transcripts, which allow students to read while they listen. Providing mixed modes of communication improves comprehension for classrooms that have a diverse group of learners.
Personally, I like to use the transcripts as a reference point for discussions after listening to a podcast. Some teachers also like to create cloze assignments (blanks are put in the transcript for students to fill-in) or self-check questions for the students to complete during and after the podcast. These are all great tools for ensuring comprehension, reflection, and retention.
As this blog is meant for an online course I am taking, it seemed appropriate to include a link to a podcast that discusses diversity and how it applies to online classes. The guests on the show include the Director of Online Experiential Programs at Northeastern University in Boston and an instructional designer for Larry L. Luing School of Business at Berkeley College. They discuss the roles and implications of diversity in online courses. First, they address the demand diversity places on the instructors and developers; they have to meet the needs of various students with different backgrounds and needs, which can be quite a challenge. They also emphasize the importance of coupling inclusion with diversity. When inclusion is combined with diversity, it encourages cooperation and success. Next, the speakers address the benefits of diversity: studies show that diversity leads to better productivity, creativity, and critical-thinking. It encourages people to open their minds to different perspectives and encourages them to think outside the box. The benefits have even more impact for students coming from non-traditional backgrounds. Being able to learn and work with someone who is like you, allows you to relate to a course better, which encourages engagement and therefore increases success. They point out that online courses are inherently diverse because of the reasons why students need to take online courses: non-traditional population, first generation, international, etc. They conclude the podcast by saying that diversity is an imperative to personal and professional success.
It’s free, and you don’t have to create an account or share your email! However, you will need to download Adobe Flash Player and allow Vocaroo to access your computer’s microphone. Once you have created a recording you like, you can either embed, email, download (MP3, Ogg, FLAC, or WAV), or even create a QR code.
It’s free, kind of. The free version provides limited ways to share the avatar, which might prompt someone to either upgrade or choose another tool, depending on your needs. For my purposes, an upgrade didn’t make sense.
Voki allows you to create an avatar that speaks. You will either use your own voice (by calling the number provided, using a computer microphone, or uploading a previous recording) or a computerized voice (by typing what you want it to say). Click here to see the avatar I created.
This would be a great tool for any classroom. In my opinion it is superior to Vocaroo because it has avatar capabilities. I enjoy giving my students chances to personalize things; it creates a sense of investment in the project, which encourages relation and engagement. Furthermore, the avatars are quite versatile so almost any content classroom could use Voki. For example, a science class could pick an animal avatar like mine. The students could then research information about that animal and have the avatar present the findings. A teacher could also allow students to create avatars that resemble themselves. This is a great approach for students who might not like to speak in public. They can create an oral presentation without fear.
AudioPal is very similar to Voki. However, it does not allow the user to create an avatar. Once you create your audio file, the site will email you a link to your creation. You can click here to hear the recording I made.
This tool, like Vocaroo, is very simple. You just click “Start Recording” and once you are done, click “Stop.” If you like what you’ve created you choose “Save on Server” and then “Save.” This will provide you with a link to your recording that you can share or embed on a website. You do not have to create and account and you do not have to share your email.
To use this site you will need to download Adobe Flash Player and allow the program to have access to your computer’s microphone. You will also need to create a free account. This website is very fun and simple to use! You can upload any picture and the site will make it look as if it is talking; you simply choose the mouth location and add a voice. You can create the image’s voice by using a microphone, calling the number, or uploading something you have already recorded.
This is probably one of my favorite audio tools. It allows room for creation and the fact that it allows you to upload any image means its applications are endless. A teacher could have a student pick an image of a historical figure or maybe a literary character and have them say whatever they want. In a history class, a teacher could ask the students pick to pick a political figure. They would have to research the main beliefs of that person and create a narration of what they learned about them. The image of the political person would then orate the student’s findings.
This website is used for open sharing of audio clips. While the majority of uploads are musical, there are also quite a few recordings of meetings and talks. You can upload and download clips for free by creating an account.
If your students have devices, they can use these apps to create audio recordings as well.
FirmBee (2015). Earbuds [photograph jpg]. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/headphones-ipod-iphone-ipad-music-1837146/. CC 0