Enhancing Discussion Boards with Audio
Using Wimba Voice

Wimba Voice is a new and exciting collection of audio tools available in Blackboard. Faculty and students are using these tools to record and play back voice, and to complete voice-based assignments in-class and as homework. Academic Technologies and the Foreign Language department piloted Wimba Voice in Fall 2008. Feedback we received from pilot participants indicates that faculty members are very pleased with Wimba. They find it especially helpful when evaluating student pronunciation and providing feedback.

So far the most popular voice tool has been Voice Board because it is flexible and lends itself well to different learning activities. Voice Board lets users record, listen, and create audio and text discussions. It can be set up to allow students to record to a class forum or to allow for a one-on-one private connection between a professor and a student.  

In one pilot, a professor asked her students to record two pages of vocabulary in the target language for each designated chapter of the text. She then listened to these recordings and provided a recording back to the class with general comments and also to individual students when some coaching was needed. At the end of the semester, students indicated to their professor that Voice Board helped them immensely improve their pronunciation over the course of the semester. In another pilot, a professor created three Wimba voice assignments in two different Spanish conversation classes. The first exercise included the written version of an assignment so students could read and hear the professor. In the second exercise, she only provided oral instructions, which made it more challenging for students to comprehend. Students were then asked to record their answers and include a written version as well. Finally, another professor observed that Voice Board can actually enhance student presentations for presenters and participants. She first asked presenters to record their two to five minute presentations in Wimba prior to class so everyone had a chance to listen first. On the day of the presentation, the students seemed to grasp more content, which encouraged more interaction and questions than in the past. Ultimately, her sense is that Voice Board helps increase participation with more well thought out questions and lively discussions.

Wimba Voice has a lot of practical and exploratory potential across the disciplines. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Academic Technologies.

- Ben Harwood, Senior Instructional Technologist, Academic Technologies

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