Audio assessment – Moodle Flash plugin or third party site – or both?

I’ve been thinking a lot about authentic, contextual assessment lately and it occurs to me that audio assessment in the human services industry really makes a whole lot of sense in some instances.

 In one of the Australian Institute of Social Relations courses for Financial Counsellors, learners are asked to write and submit their opening statement to clients. Yet, when they are in front of a client, they’re not likely to be reading it off a piece of paper (one hopes). So – how much better would audio be? I was thinking much, much better.

One issue is that some of our learners are still developing their IT skills. So whatever we provide needs to be intuitive and user friendly.

Moodle Audio Assignment plug in


Enter the Audio assessment plug in created by Paul Nicholls for the Moodle community to use.

This plugin creates the ability for learners to record straight into a web browser (if it allows for Flash) or to upload a pre-recorded audio file if they don’t have Flash. It is very, very easy to use.

Audio assignment in action 
The file is recorded straight in the page, then uploaded. For a three-minute recording, the file size worked out to be 2.7 MB.

I tried this using my iPhone and found of course that the Flash didn’t work. I also found that I couldn’t upload a file using the button on the page, nor via the Moodle 2.22 File Picker when I chose the advanced option.  With a standard Mac, there was no issue. I’m just not sure what free recording tools Macs offer and how easy they would be for people with basic skills.

Third party sites

Sound cloud

Another option would be using a third party web site – like Sound Cloud (http://soundcloud.com ).  The downside is that students would have to sign up for an account with an email address. The upside is SoundCloud has free mobile apps so students could record their audio via mobile phone rather than needing a headset and mic at work (which is an issue for some).  With Soundcloud the free account provides for 120 minutes of upload time – plenty for one course. Students could record their audio there, then send you a private link to it. Only people who have the link can find it – much like an unlisted YouTube video.

This would mean a 4 or 5 step process for iphone and tablet users: read assignment, record audio, copy link, go back to assignment and paste link. Too much?

Voicethread

Voicethread – http://voicethread.com is another voice tool option – a but the sound recorded would be available to all the other students and sometimes, that just doesn’t work. Peer assessment is fine down the track, but in early stages of learning  it’s better to provide a safe space where mistakes can be made and performances can be honed.

Voicethread would also necessitate users creating a log-in on a third party site.  PC users could record straight on the page, iPhone and iPad users would need to download an app and go to the web site via the app to take part.

I think we’re in a deadpatch here.

There isn’t any HTML 5 stuff being developed yet that is going to embed in the page and behave sweetly like Flash. The alternatives for Mac and tablet users seem to involve multiple steps. But I really think Audio assessment is worth it.

Your suggestions to streamline the process of submitting audio for assessment while catering to PCs, Macs, iphones/pads and Android suers would be GREATLY appreciated… 

Moodle plugin review: Checklist

For a while now, one of our online educators creates a check list for learners  to download and fill in at the end of each learning module. This gives them a chance to see what activities and assessments and evidence of competency are required on one page and also ensures they have completed what they need to in order to move onto the next module of learning.

Enter Moodle 2.2 and with it completion tracking and conditional activities. These have great promise for some courses we deliver. Completing tracking allows students to tick off an activity or resource interaction as complete — or the educator can set conditions for completion such as a certain grade – that automatically ticks off the item as complete. Completion of certain activities or resource interactions can be set as conditions for being able to access content.

We’ll get there with this – we all see the value. But it is time consuming and takes planning.

Enter the Checklist plugins.

The Checklist Activity plug-in allows a teacher to create an auto-generated Checklist, then edit it to suit. It’s available via the Activity menu of a course.

There are a whole range of settings to experiment with.

You can choose whether to create a Checklist for a specific topic block or the whole course.

If, like us, you break out course content by Learning Modules and then weeks or sub topics within the learning module, you can create a Checklist that shows every activity and resource in the course, then hide all the elements that don’t fall under that learning module.

You can then create other Checklists for other modules.

You can edit the Checklists to create custom headings (they default to Section plus number, a weakness imho as it creates an extra step), and can mark activities and resources as optional or required. It took a couple of clicks to do this. I had to manually add a Checklist item, name it, hide the auto-generated header then tick and untick the manually created item as required and optional for it to go bold and kick in as a header.

options to hide content and add headers

Students can tick items off the list as they like.  A link to the activity or resource is automatically generated so learners can go to items they need to complete straight from the list, rather than having to remember the name and go off to find it.
Checklist with progress bar

When you add in the separate Checklist Block, you can turn Checklist into a tool that learners use throughout a learning module or course, rather than at the end.


 A separate Checklist block provides a quick visual progress bar for students regarding their progress through the checklist and educators can use the Checklist block to keep an eye on all the learners in a course. 
 

When educators access the Checklist itself, they can see a graph of who has been ticking off items and who hasn’t.
 
Other settings allow the teacher to have the final say on whether or not an item should have been checked off – and even to leave a comment to explain WHY the item shouldn’t be marked as finished.


 There is also a Gradebook Export plugin. I will need to talk to our web hosts to get this to work – it is supposed to export out the Checklist overview to an Excel spreadsheet. I got an Error Message saying the file or directory didn’t exist, so I’ll follow this up and provide an update in comments.

For more information on Checklist, visit the plugin page on Moodle.org - http://moodle.org/plugins/view.php?plugin=mod_checklist

And if you’ve used Checklist, let me know what you think of it.

Activity reports in Moodle courses

This is another messy brain dump because I’ve had to look this up more than twice…

To be able to access activity reports in Moodle courses -
  • The site admin must ensure that the Navigation block is active
  • The course owner must add the Navigation block (The course owner can decide whether or not learners can see their own Activity reports in course settings)
OR

If you are afraid the Navigation block will confuse students (you cannot hide it) or your site admin won’t allow the Navigation menu, create shortcuts to your fav reports.

Activity Report: http://moodlesiteaddress.com/report/outline/index.php?id=yyy
Log: http://moodlesiteaddress.com/report/log/index.php?id=yyy
Live log: http://moodlesiteaddress.com/report/loglive/index.php?id=yyy
Course participation: http://moodlesiteaddress.com/report/participation/index.php?id=yyy
Activity completion: http://moodlesiteaddress.com/report/progress/index.php?course=yyy

As an added bonus, the Log link allows you to choose from all the courses you teach/manage – so you’d only have to share one log link for one course.

YouTube Caption fixing – down and dirty tutorial

YouTube’s Close Captioning results in word salad – but it’s easy to fix. Here is a pictorial on it – it’s not pretty, but hope it’s useful. Needed to do this in a hurry:

Step 1: Run Captions, let YouTube do its thing. When finished, play again and see result. Click Edit Captions and Subtitles.
Step 1, click CC and let captions run, when finished, click edit captions

Step 2:  Click The pencil to view the machine transcription

Edit the existing caption by clicking pencil icon

Step 3: I don’t bother editing here – I like to edit in my own software. Click the download button.
Don't bother editing online, click download

Step 3b. Download and save the SVB file.
Save as SVB file
Step 4. Edit the file in a plain text editing program like Notepad or  I use Notepad ++. Save it.

Edit text in text editor like Notepad or Notepad ++
Step 5: Upload your file 
Click button to add subtitles
and name it
Choose file, upload, give it a name
Step 6: Disable the YouTube word salad track
Disable the YouTube Word Salad track and enable your new caption. Done!
Done!

Step 7: Tweak colours and backgrounds
Click CC to bring up menu to format captions

KONY 2012 – Did I jump the gun?

Since my visceral reaction to the video I re-posted, I have found a lot of discussion to-ing and fro-ing about the Kony 2012 campaign. Allegations that the organisation doesn’t handle money properly, that Ugandans aren’t crazy about it, that the directors pull down big salaries, etc.

This post http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/post/18890947431/we-got-trouble covers many of the considerations.

I’m a bit embarrassed that I reacted without presenting the other side, but on the other hand I can’t be ashamed for wanting to do something to out the cause of so much suffering and, in doing so, help to bring about the end of the suffering being caused.

It’s part of my learning journey  that I realise in hindsight that jumped in heart first without doing sufficient research to provide a balance. But I’m glad I donated to this cause and hope they see their objective achieved.