During my holidays I received an email from Dr David Rossiter and Gibson Lam from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology inviting me to try out some software they had developed called Gong. I am often hesitant about blogging such invitations and didn’t even manage to get around to trying it until today because of the backlog of email etc., from my holiday. But after trying it out I am glad I did.
Free voice recording might not seem like much in the age of Odeo and the like, but this is, to my eye, much more. The Java-based client-server program has been built very much with an eye to teaching languages but looks like it could be useful for anyone wanting to include voice in their online clases. It supports the creation of voice-based message boards and forums, and the client allows users to index their recordings to text, meaning subsequent viewers can see the text ‘read’ while they hear the message, and jump to specific parts of the message by clicking on that word (for instance on a particularly confusing spelling, as often happens with English). Recorders of messages can also edit the message directly in the client after the fact, easily removing awkward pauses and silences. Additionally, listeners can slow down aqnd speed up the playback of messages on demand.
And if all that isn’t enough, it can support synchronous audio chat sessions as well. Did I mention that there is also an existing Moodle module that allows creation of Gong ‘boards’ directly in Moodle. And that it has an API. Oh, and it’s free too (but not ‘yet’ open source.) Well worth a look for language teachers or for anyone wanting to incorporate voice recording into their online classes for free. – SWL