I came across a very interesting tool the other day, called SpeakPipe. It is a platform that allows you to place a script or widget on your website, Moodle or Blog – even your Facebook page, that will enable users to record a short message, which then gets emailed to you. I put the script on my Moodle to test it, and it works like a dream. When someone records a message on your website, you get an email from SpeakPipe with a link to follow. You can listen to the message in your web browser, or download it and save to your computer.
The moment I saw this, the language teacher in me immediately saw a zillion applications! Not only could students stay in touch with you between lessons: asking a question, for example, or giving feedback or a report-back, but they could also use the webpage in class, recording a group report-back using a mobile phone, for example. In both the flipped and more horizontal classroom, the possibilities appear endless.
What I like about it, is the way it extends the infrastructural architecture of my classroom. Students have always been able to upload documents to a Moodle page (including voice messages). But SpeakPipe makes this process easy for all users, not just the savvy ones who know where to go to record a message. For a Flipped Classroom it adds the possibility of easily adding voice messages, bringing the dimension of sound into the mix in a way which was much more difficult to achieve previously.
I have only just installed the feature, but I have just given students their first assignment using it. I have asked my grade 8 English class to use the feature to record a short commentary on a question about “The Merchant Of Venice”. While something of an experiment to see if the feature is as useful as I suspect it might be, I do believe that a spoken answer, delivered over an asynchronous medium offers very valuable affordances in terms of thinking and learning.
As a teacher one should always wait a long time after asking a question, before accepting an answer, to encourage as many as possible to keep thinking about their answer, and this widget appears the perfect anti-dote to the teacher who does the, “What is two plus two? Anyone, Anyone, Four!” thing.