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Edtech Moodle online course

Should your online students (want to) talk to you?

Photo “headphones” taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mzn37/ by Michael Newman, used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license 

This is a follow-up post on the one from earlier this month, on the audio files I’ve been adding to the online course this semester.

Because several of the students had made the point in their learning journals that they were finding it challenging to focus on longer stretches of audio, I decided to try out Neil’s suggestion of adding shorter comments to the H5P Course Presentation content type.

This now pretty much looks like your typical PowerPoint slide with blue play buttons next to each bullet point. I add the Course Presentation to the relevant unit and choose the “available but not shown on course page” option so that I can embed it into the unit guide which is organized in the Moodle Book resource. I do this so that the students will access it in the order I’d like them to, i.e. that will (hopefully) make the most sense. 

I did say the students were free to comment on what they thought of this change – if they thought it made processing the audio any easier – in their learning journals, but as I haven’t had any takers yet, I’m not sure what they think. 

From my perspective, it’s definitely easier and quicker as far as planning goes. I haven’t opened the document in which I used to plan what I was going to say since I last made a longer recording. I jot down the ideas in a notebook and it’s just a couple of words for each point I plan to address. I’ve only done two units this way and the average is 7 recordings per unit, which I think overall adds up to a little more than the 15 minutes the single recordings per unit would take, but I make sure to state clearly that the students don’t need to listen to these in one go. 

I also find it much easier to record a 3-minute comment in the sense that I feel very aware it’s much easier to re-record if I go off on a tangent or if a text message comes through and distracts me. I just need to remember to say at the beginning of each recording what it’s going to be about, so those listening are sure which file goes with which bullet point.

In the last unit I did this for I also added a slide with links to a couple of video resources and websites, which I then expanded on in the audio comments, so right now Course Presentation is looking like a far more versatile resource than just audio files.

You know when you get excited about something and figure everyone will be just as thrilled about it as you are? Despite writing about the audio files as an experiment, I’d already made up my mind that they added something (valuable) to the course and expected the students to feel the same way. Halfway through the course I added an optional activity which involved the H5P Audio Recorder content type and instructions for students to record an audio comment no longer than 2 minutes – I called the activity “Checking in” – and share the recording on a Padlet wall. 

Only one student took part in this activity, which was a bit of an anticlimax. Maybe it shouldn’t have come as a surprise as it was optional, but 2 minutes – okay, probably more like 10 minutes if you factor in prep time (there were prompts), downloading and sharing to Padlet – didn’t seem likely to discourage the entire group. Clearly I miscalculated here but I’m not sure why.

In earlier course runs I used to offer the option of recording some learning journal audio entries and very few students ever took this up, which I attributed to the probability that these entries were likely to take more prep time. But there might have been an additional factor: some students said they hated the sound of their voice and couldn’t bear to listen to themselves. 

I thought hearing other students’ voices would make their online presence more evident and therefore have a bonding and motivating effect, but the whole thing fell flat. Apart from feeling a tad disappointed – the students don’t seem uninterested in the course overall – I’m not sure if I should consider this a chance development and repeat the experiment or just drop it. 

If you have any ideas re why students may not be as excited about the opportunities afforded by audio as I am, I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for reading and I hope you’re having a lovely holiday season! Thank you for being around this year. 🙂 

By ven_vve

ELT, elearning, higher ed, teacher training, translation. Partial to the island of Vis since the pre-tourist era.

4 replies on “Should your online students (want to) talk to you?”

Hi Vedrana, I once asked my students for something similar. Nobody volunteered. One girl later told me that she had just found it plain awkward and embarrassing to record herself, let alone share the recording publicly for others to listen to. Anyway, your students may be shy at this point, but I strongly believe that if they manage to overcome their reluctance, some may even come to like the task and many will find it quite beneficial in the end. One way for you to test my hypothesis is to make the task compulsory. 🙂 Happy new year!

Liked by 2 people

Hi Hana,
So it might be embarrassment after all, rather than unwillingness to engage in something that is merely optional. The funny thing is, I’d initially planned to include a link to a Flipgrid board (or whatever they’re called) and thought it might be motivating to have the students share a video, but decided against it as I figured some of them might be too shy.
On the other hand, I did also think about what students had said in earlier course runs about hating to listen to themselves speak, but reasoned that they didn’t have to do that if they didn’t want to (beyond possibly a couple of seconds to make sure the audio file was ok before uploading it). Anyway, thanks very much for the suggestion; I think I may make a similar activity compulsory at the end of the semester.
Happy New Year to you too! 🙂

Liked by 1 person

I agree with Hana – recording themselves might seem awkward to them at first, but if you don’t let go and just keep gently pushing them, they’ll get used to it and maybe even start enjoying themselves. I had a similar experience with one of my f2f groups this year when I was trying to get them to use Padlet. It totally flopped, but then I tried again two months later, and it worked really well!

Liked by 2 people

Hi Katherine,

Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s the feeling of awkwardness that led to nothing being shared because there was another Padlet wall at the beginning of the semester, which was also optional, and almost everyone posted something nevertheless. I thought that maybe instead of asking them to share recordings on Padlet (or any other space where other students could access these), I would ask them for a start to submit the files as a Moodle Assignment so they’d be available only to me. There was a really interesting post a couple of years ago by Gemma Lunn on https://earlyreflections1.wordpress.com/, where she wrote about students reflecting via video, if I remember correctly, but only she got to see the videos.

Liked by 1 person

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