Ever wanted to control the number of times a learner can listen to a recording in a listening test? Well, I’ve seen this request a number of times on Moodle.org’s forums recently and not so recently. So I’ve decided to develop and share this Flash MP3 player for tests.
What does it do?
It streams (progressive download) and plays a single MP3 (or AAC) audio file once. It has no play back controls whatsoever so there is no way for a learner to listen to the recording again except by refreshing the web page in the browser. There is an optional parameter that sets the number of times the MP3 file plays.
What is it for?
It’s for deploying in listening tests or activities where it’s necessary or desirable to limit the number of times a learner can listen to an audio recording. For example, Cambridge ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) listening tests require that the learner only listen to each recording twice so it’s particularly useful in practice exercises for learners who are preparing to take one of these exams.
How can I use it?
Detailed instructions are included in the download package as well as some example embed code. Unfortunately, I can’t provide any easy to use plugins or modules for LMSs (Learning Management Systems) – It’s too complicated to explain here and now. For now, this Flash application can only be deployed by manually inserting the necessary embed code and editing some of the parameters. I’ve included some code examples and explanations for how to embed it in Moodle from the course files directory (moodledata). This should present no problems at all for an experienced web designer or web developer and an IT savvy teacher or course content designer could probably deploy it successfully by copying and editing the embed code examples provided.
Do I need to buy a licence to use it?
No, this project is open source and completely free. You can copy it, change it and redistribute it in any way you like. The only condition is that you must leave my name and copyright on it and distribute a copy of the GPL open source licence with it. The Flash CS4 FLA and ActionScript 3.0 source files and full details are included in the download package.
How secure is it?
It’s worth noting that this MP3 player for tests is not secure. An IT savvy learner could easily look at the source code for the web page and see the URL of the MP3 file being played and download it directly. The very popular Firefox web browser also has a number of plugins that makes it very easy to download media files from virtually any source no matter how well they are protected, even streams from media servers that are supposed to be very secure. The easiest way to make it more difficult to cheat is to put a time limit on the listening test itself. That way, there isn’t enough time to listen more than once.
I’ve moved the MP3 Player for Tests to Google Code to make it more accessible to developers and easier to find and download. You can find the project page here.