I had a few good questions about PoodLL come in from Mark in Canada, and I thought that other people might be interested in them too. So I am posting here an edited version of that conversation.
Does the voice recording widget require that it be placed in a forum setting or can it exist elsewhere on a Moodle page?
You can put a voice recording widget on any poodll page. The real restriction on doing that though is that then there is no integrated way to play back those recordings in a later session, for either the teacher or the student. The teacher can navigate to the save directory using the player on the poodll palette, occasionally this is convenient but usually it is not very useful. In most cases you would use a poodll online assignment and set the reply type for student to audio. Then the assignment will contain an audio recorder , and recordings can be reviewed by student, and graded and given feedback by teacher.
Does the small video gallery play each video in the list in a sequence as a playlist or must the student select the next video in the list manually? Does thebig video gallery display all videos at once requiring a student to activate one manually or does it allow for students to scroll through available videos?
The small video gallery doesn’t play all in a sequence. I suppose it could easily be modified to do so. The big video gallery basically shows as many players as there are videos in the directory. There is a scrollbar on the right, and the student can scroll through the list of players. and simply start the video they wish.
I mainly use this for student/group submitted videos, because it is easier for them. For my students, big buttons and pictures are more intuitive than drop down lists. A medium video gallery with a list of screenshots and single player is something I’d like to do someday.
Does PoodLL itself completely reskin the Moodle system or perform any apparent changes to Moodle itself, or does it operate in the background and allow you to insert PoodLL widgets with no outward changes?
Basically the latter. The only overwrites to core moodle files, are to the forum to allow audio/video submissions and to the htmlarea editor to add the poodll palette / red pen and blue pen icons.
When developing PoodLL did you run into any incompatibilities with other software either outside of Moodle or within Moodle itself? Were there any conflicts with other Moodle modules that you may have used previously in a Language Lab setting, or in general?
No. It is as self contained as we could make it. At present there are no conflicts with existing moodle modules. Along those lines though, you do have to consider the red5 server. This will probably be on the same machine as your moodle server and runs in Java so more memory is better than less. And it uses port 1935, so if your students are on the far side of a proxy or firewall, you will have to consider this.
Does the Pairwork(audio) widget perform both text based chat as well as audio chat? How many users are able to participate in a chat session, either text or chat based?
The pairwork widget requires a fair bit of driving and I would not call it quite “ready.” But it does work and I use it. The pairwork widget does both text and audio chat. (It even does video but I have not had the environment to test that during classes with more then a handful of students.) How many users it scales too is unknown but really depends on how well your red5 server runs. The chat can probably scale to an unrealistic number of students. The audio pairwork I have done in classes of 36 students on a pretty low spec server . When I say it is not “ready” I mean that the mechanism for getting students into the pairwork session and then managing the session is clunky. And “crossed lines” occur occasionally after shuffling the students partners and reapplying the pair session.
What exactly is happening with the Talkback player? Do the subtitles that appear in the tab in the screenshot of the Widget get generated automatically or must the be entered beforehand? What does each tab contain? Is there a maximum/minimum number of tabs?
The talkback widget uses an xml descriptor file to “chapter” a video or audio file into tabs. Students can play the tabs sequentially or selectively. If recording is enabled in the descriptor file students can record and playback their voice over the muted audio in the video file. If you are familiar with language labs you will have seen this kind of thing I think. There is no hard limit to the number of tabs but, gulp, they don’t scroll if they go off screen, so realistically 5 or 6. I do intend to add scrolling or multiple tab tiers.
Like, pairwork, talkback is not quite “ready”. Though it can be used and I use it a fair amount. The xml file with all the times and “subtitles” is made by hand and that is the main reason why it is not “ready.” But it does (as with all the other video widgets) support linking straight to a youtube file using the youtube api, so that you can use copyrighted materials legitimately. Well as legitimately as youtube does.
What is the Screencapture and Broadcast widget doing? Is a section of the desktop being streamed in real time or is a screenshot being sent out to other workstations?
Most language labs have the ability to broadcast the teachers PC, and it is one of the most useful features in a language lab in my experience. So I wanted to add that ability to PoodLL. It streams in real time using either a Java applet or a software “camera” (windows only) that “videos” the teachers screen. PoodLL then streams it out as a normal live broadcast and it is visible on pages with the screensubscribe widget embedded. Like talkback and pairwork I am not sure it is ready for the bigtime, but it does work and is at least a stub from which to go forward.
Do all Pairwork widgets require two students working on a single workstation or are some of the widgets able to communicate over the network?
The pairwork widget communicates over the network. audio/video/text/whiteboard. As does the whiteboard itself.
The pairwork assignment(not widget ..they are different) can put people into A and B pairs,display them an A and B screen respectively, and include a pairwork widget for audio/chat/whiteboard. However often you just want them to do pairwork with the person beside them, say for an information gap activity. In that case if you set the Pairwork assignment to allow students to choose A and B role, and it will show then them the correct screen(A or B), but there will be no networked widget for whiteboard or chat ….
Two students on a single workstation actually works really well but it is not part of the design of PoodLL. It just happens to be the best way to use PoodLL flashcards as a drill activity in my mind. Flashcards are not networked but they probably should be added to the pairwork widget in the future. Then they would be synchronized across pairs.