One of the advantages to using online tools in the language classroom is the ability to have students make audio and video recordings that can be used for practice and assessment. An absolutely fantastic tool from The Center of Language Education and Research (CLEAR) at Michigan State University is called Conversations. Conversations allows teachers to create an online video recording that students can respond to by using a simple webcam and microphone. These recordings are kept private in the teacher’s online folder for review and can also be downloaded. Here is how it works:
Recording the questions:
- Go to the main CLEAR website to register. The teacher is the only person who needs to register. The students can use their own names or any designation that you have agreed upon. They do not have to give any personal information such as an email address.
- Once you have completed the registration process, go to the Conversations website and login.
- In the ‘Start a new conversations’ box, put in a name that will help you know which ‘conversation’ you are referencing. This could be the class name, a subject name, or anything else. This can be changed at any time.
- Once you have created a conversation, click on the pencil symbol to the far left of the name. A box will appear and you will be asked to give access to the webcam and microphone. Click on ‘Allow’.
- A live video feed will appear in the box. To the left of the video, click on the little green ‘+’ symbol and a number will appear in the box just to the left of the video.
- Click on the number and, when you are ready, click on the red record button below the video box to start recording. Record a question, comment, or anything else you would like the student to respond to. Click on the stop button to stop recording. You can play back the video by clicking on the play button.
- Once you are done adding questions, select a time limit for the student’s video (0 is the default which means no time limit).
- If you would like to allow students to practice before making their final recording, click on the ‘Check to allow students to practice’ checkbox.
- Click on the ‘Save All’ button to save your changes.
- Click on the ‘Copy’ button to get the embed code that you can paste into a webpage. If you have a blog, this could be on a page or post. If you don’t have a website or blog, you can always use a registration-free page such as Axess.im to paste your embed code.
- Give the students the webpage site where they can go to record their answers.
- Students go to the webpage and click on ‘Allow’ to let allow the computer to access the webcam and microphone.
- Students type in their name and click on ‘Log in’.
- If you have allowed students to practice, they can click on the question numbers and then the little speaker button below the video to watch the questions. They can even practice recording themselves by click on the record, stop, and play buttons. These videos will not be submitted to the teacher.
- Once students are ready, or if you have turned off the practice option, students click on the ‘Real Time’ button to watch the questions you have recorded. At the end of each video, the webcam will immediately start recording their responses. If it is timed, it will stop recording at the end of the time limit. If they have unlimited time or they finish before the time is up, they click on ‘Stop Recording’ below the video to go to the next question. If they would like to do it again, they can always click on the ‘Real Time’ button again to start again.
- Once all the questions are answered, the ‘Submit’ will appear. Click on this button and they videos are automatically put in the teacher’s review box.
- Back at the Conversations website, click on the eye button to the left of the conversation name. A ‘Conversations Viewer’ box will appear with a list of names on the left.
- Click on a name and click on ‘Play Back’ to see both the question and the student’s answer, or click on ‘Play Responses Only’ to just see their answers.
- There is a ‘Request Download’ button that you can use to download the videos. You will get a download link within 24 hours.
This is an amazing tool for having asynchronous conversations with students. You could create listening and speaking practice activities or tests using this tool and then save the videos for the student’s e-portfolio. The fact it is only accessible by the teacher makes this a tool that can be used with all age groups and also for situations where privacy is imperative.
Here is a video tutorial on how to use CLEAR Conversations:
How could you see this being used? Share your ideas in the comment field below, send me a Tweet at @nathanghall, or email me using the contact page on this website. Thank you.