Review of the cheapest ubiquitous learning tech I’ve yet seen: Talk Time

Talk Time A4

The basis for this blog is that the steady miniaturisation of digital technology means that in the near term, we will find it embedded in so many of our everyday tools, objects and environments that it truly becomes ubiquitous. If we take this as a given, then as educators, it is our responsibility to be considering what learning will look like in such a world, am I right?

I’ve had the chance this week to play with a learning tool that fits squarely into the early days of exactly this kind of scenario: Talk Time Boards sold by TTS in the UK. Imagine if you will, a classroom, library, hallway, hall etc where much of the wall space is covered by A4-size writing and drawing zones covered with notes, sums, drawings etc. Then imagine that each of these zones also feature digital audio recorders with buttons built right in… I can hear the creative pedagogue in you getting excited already – especially when you realise the price is only $10 each (slightly more if bought non-bulk).

At that price, the cost to a school to put even 4 in every classroom is pretty minimal, especially when the potential advantages of having ubiquitous voice recording and playback available around the learning space are so many. I’m thinking these advantages would apply to teaching oral literacy, reducing the amount of times you as a teacher has to repeat instructions for tasks, assisting auditory learners, assisting visually-impaired students … please add your ideas in the comments.

In use? Classroom-class simplicity is a very important factor in why I’m so taken with this tool. Place on a table, or hold, whatever suits the task. Hold the record button while talking, push the green button to hear it, right on the board, attach to wall – thats it. Students can use it without thinking. It’s also extremely light and portable – so it could conceivable travel anywhere your students do, making it available to augment learning moments if and as required.

I must say that the 10-second model I’m testing however really is too limited for meaningful work. By the time a student pushes record, composes thoughts, starts talking etc its done. Fortunately there is a 30 second model, and I guess for longer recordings, the separate and similarly low cost I-Memo is the next step (has 2 hour recording).

My only other concern is battery life? This is not mentioned anywhere I can find, but short of carefully slitting the board open and putting in a new one yourself, this is the one thing you may want to wait for someone to find out in practice before buying. I have plans to lend the two I have to a classroom shortly, so over the 10 weeks of the coming term we may find out.

The TTS website lists about 28 variations on this ‘embedded audio recorder as learning tool’ theme – have a search yourself on the international catalogue (ICT products from page 775) HERE. You’ll see some images with ideas there of how they can be used also.

- Turns out also there is a Talk Time resource pack that gives you 25 assorted talk time boards for around $80.