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 ( ).  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 – 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… 

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