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Peer Review


by Dean Worth


Overall Numeric Rating:

3.5 stars
Content Quality: 3 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 3 stars
Reviewed: Jul 22, 2013 by Teacher Education
Overview: Voxopop talkgroups allow students develop their speaking skills. They're a bit like message boards, but use voice rather than text and a have a specialized user interface.
Type of Material: Development tool
Recommended Uses: Asynchronous communication with students or colleagues in or out of class.
Technical Requirements: Java and Flash are required. The recording aspect does not work with the Chrome browser.
Identify Major Learning Goals: The learning goals are determined by the user; however, one of the goals is audio collaboration.
Target Student Population: K-University
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Patience, a microphone and basic computer skills.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths: The concept for this is strong: asynchronous group audio communication. It gives learners the opportunity to reflect before they speak in a conversation can lead to more meaningful communication. It also supports students who have difficulty typing or writing in expressing their ideas.
Concerns: Some of the best aspects of usage can be found in the gallery, but there is no curation of good examples. There is an unevenness in the examples that are given. It's difficult to tell what Voxopop can do for educators without having an organized collection of exemplars.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: Communication can occur across school districts, countries, ranges of groups, culturally---the communication aspect is the main strength here. Its potential for use in the classroom is amazing--guest speakers, comments by students, syntheses of units or even reviews prior to examinations could be possibilities. Collaborative group work is another possibility. Educators could develop a prompt and have small groups discuss over a period of time, thus allowing students to frame their responses rather than having to speak immediately. This site can be used by language and communication studies educators to provide practice opportunities for students. There is the potential for a variety of engaging assignments and activities. There are opportunities for people to vote for future improvements to the site.
Concerns: The site says that it has not been updated since 2009, although the blog has entries for 2011. It would seem that it should be updated regularly, and if it is, then there should an indicator on the first page. Once again, without exemplars, it could be difficult for a new user to see the potential in this tool.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths: The fact that students do not have to download software to do recording is a plus. Educators have the ability to set granular permissions for security, which makes this a great tool for the classroom.
Concerns: At this point in time, you cannot embed the conversations; it is a destination rather than a tool that you can put within a class. In general, there are many possible pitfalls in terms of effectively recording a conversation from start to finish. You need to choose the correct combination of browser and plug-ins. The program seems to slow down when there is a lot of simultaneous user activity. This may a result of the site being free. There are recording issues noted on the site and the support for this requires advanced computer use.

Other Issues and Comments: This tool has the potential to be very effective in the classroom, with minimal tweaks to the usability of the products. Currently, the user experience can vary greatly.