Recently I was reminded of a tool called Vocaroo that allows users to record and share their voices online. There is something more personable about leaving a message for your students, parents, and teachers that includes your voice. The best thing about Vocaroo is that it is free. You do not need to sign up for an account, nor do you need to log in to use it. However, you will need Adobe Flash and a microphone to make your recording. Creating a recording is as simple as clicking one red button to start and end the process.
If you like the results, there are several ways to share recordings. They can be emailed, embedded, downloaded, and shared via social media. Moreover, downloaded recordings can be uploaded to a Google Drive account, be made public, and added via links to Google Slides. In addition to enhancing Google Slides, the recordings can be included in messages for students, parents, and teachers.
Although it is a great way to send messages, Vocaroo supports the Shared Foundations and Key Commitments for the AASL National School Library Standards.
Inquire: Build new knowledge by inquiring, thinking critically, identifying problems, and developing strategies for solving problems (AASL, 2018, p. 68).
- Example: Explain the research process steps to learners with a recording. Ask them to record examples of how they completed the steps during an assignment.
- Example: Instruct students to construct new meaning by showing them how to verbally contribute to a diagram of what they know about a topic before they start it and what they learned after the project.
Include: Demonstrates an understanding of and commitment to inclusiveness and respect for diversity in the learning community (AASL, 2018, p. 76).
- Example: Host an online debate using Vocaroo to empower students to share their viewpoints on a trending topic.
- Example: Encourage students to develop virtual galleries or collections of resources about a global topic and describe them using Vocaroo.
Collaborate: Work effectively with others to broaden perspectives and work toward common goals (AASL, 2018, p.83).
- Example: Invite students to share a project and provide feedback to others using Vocaroo.
- Example: Set up a collaborative project for students to complete. Allow them to use Vocaroo messages to communicate about the project asynchronously.
Curate: Make meaning for oneself and others by collecting, organizing, sharing resources of personal relevance (AASL, 2018, p.93).
- Example: Create a project that students can use to curate resources about a policy or law from the viewpoint of various stakeholders. Show them how to group the resources by stakeholder groups and express the interests of each type of stakeholder with a message.
- Example: Encourage students to share their favorite book, database, or library resource and create a short advertisement about it to promote the collection.
Explore: Discover and innovate in a growth mindset developed through experience and reflection (AASL, 2018, p.104).
- Example: Allow students to express their curiosity about a research question or a topic by using Vocaroo. Respond to them with a message.
- Example: Teach students to problem solve by asking them to research how they would solve a social problem in your city. Encourage them to share their solutions and ask for feedback from their peers. Then ask them to reflect on changes that need to be made to implement their plans.
Engage: Demonstrate safe, legal, and ethical creating and sharing of knowledge products independently while engaging in a community of practice and an interconnected world (AASL, 2018, p.112).
- Example: Facilitate your learners’ understanding of the ethical use of information by creating an infographic with verbal explanations of key points.
- Example: Ask students to create a presentation based on Creative Commons content. Then ask them to cite the original resource and add an explanation of how they remixed the original material to make their presentation.
Finally, I have a bonus tip. Access to text and audio files can be important for students that have learning disabilities. If you need to provide written text while using Vocaroo, it is possible to create a draft by combining Vocaroo with the diction feature in Microsoft Word. I experimented and found that when I clicked the Vocaroo record button, then clicked on the dictation button in Word, my messages were translated to text in my document. This method could save you some time if you want students to have text to accompany your recordings.
In all, I believe that Vocaroo can be a valuable tool for enhancing online learning. It supports the AASL Standards. In addition, students are likely to enjoy hearing each other while they are away from school. Note: I do not recommend making recordings of copyrighted materials such as books.
Have you been using Vocaroo or a similar resource for projects? I have noticed similar tools such as SpeakPipe and 123APPS’ Online Voice Recorder that I have not tried yet. If so, I would love to read about your ideas and tool suggestions.
AASL. 2018. National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries. Chicago: ALA.
Author: Daniella Smith
Daniella Smith, PhD. is a former school and public librarian. She is currently the Hazel Harvey Peace Professor in Children’s Library Services at the University of North Texas.