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Recordings in a learning environment serve as a kind of mirror, a replication of the learning. The student not only practices his/her reading, but also listens to him/herself and verifies: “Am I pleased with my reading? Would I like to improve it?” The teacher’s assessment and feedback come only at a later stage.
Recordings are, therefore, an important element in assessing learning in general, and in language acquisition in particular. However, recordings can present considerable technological challenges.
Firstly, a quality recording requires a quiet environment, microphone and earphones, otherwise the recording is noisy and will not provide usable information about the student and his/her skills.
Secondly, there could be a problem with the “flow” of recordings: Imagine a small room with an exit door. There are several people in the room, and they all want to leave at the same time. This presents a problem—a bottleneck. Everyone is stuck, until they get in line and leave in turn. Recordings are the same; there is one “door” through which they are all transferred to the learning environment’s main server. If they all “exit” at the same time, the transfer will be “jammed” and then, unfortunately, the jammed recording may be deleted and lost, and the computers may freeze, causing frustration and gloom.
Ziva has experienced this challenge several times herself; she gave the class a task—to record a story—and the students, excited about the activity, recorded themselves, listened to the recording, deleted and made corrections. When they wanted to send the recording to themselves and to the teacher, the computers froze, and the recording was likely lost.
Here are five steps to safe and effective recording: Step One: Plan the lesson in such a way that the recording task is intended only for three students at a time, so that they—and only they—can record simultaneously. Step Two: Instruct the students to record small sections: 2-3 pages per recording,so that a malfunction does not result in a catastrophe. Step Three: Ensure that the environment is quiet, and that the students are using earphones and a microphone. Background noise can make a recording impossible to listen to! Create designated recording areas, or send the students to the hallway. Step Four: Instruct the students not to exit the system until the worm completes its journey; should they exit sooner, the recording will not be saved. Step Five: Once in a while, assign your students recordings as homework, so that they can demonstrate their reading skills to their parents, and avoid a “traffic jam” in the school’s system.