Integrated learning with podcasting import and export in the Gong system

David Rossiter and Gibson Lam
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Hong Kong SAR, China

In recent years, the level of social interaction on the Internet has increased dramatically. In the context of learning, new technologies loosely grouped under the 'Web 2.0' label have provided new ways for teachers and students to interact. However, in the Web 2.0 domain the capability for true integration of audio has previously been highly restrictive, both technically and financially. In this context we have developed a highly flexible system called 'Gong'. Released free to the world at, the system greatly enhances learning in the Web 2.0 domain.

The Gong system, which is designed primarily for audio-related communication, supports both synchronous and asynchronous audio communication. For example, individual students and teachers may form groups and chat in real-time over the Internet. The audio chat sessions are recorded, if required; and once recorded, there are further facilities for audio manipulation. For instance, the speed of recorded audio may be slowed down without altering the sound. Furthermore, the audio can be automatically indexed, enabling individual word highlighting during playback, individual word/phrase selection and playback, and audio search features facilitating comparative pronunciation. These features greatly facilitate language learning in particular.

With regard to Web 2.0 integration, the forthcoming version of Gong will support both the import and export of podcasting. For exporting as a podcast, in Gong, any group of audio recordings can become a simultaneous podcast, and any changes, such as new or edited messages, are automatically reflected in the podcast. Also, any podcast on the Web can be imported into Gong. All text and audio elements in the podcast are seamlessly integrated into the Gong environment, and can then, for example, be used as learning material within the integrated environment.

The Gong system may be used as a stand-alone system or as an integrated component of an LMS. A version of Gong for the popular Moodle LMS has been made available free since July 2006. All the features discussed above are therefore inherited by the LMS; that is, all courses in the LMS can integrate the features provided by Gong. In this way, our system supports integration not only within the context of a single Learning Management System (LMS), but across the Internet at the Web 2.0 level. More than 500 institutions and individuals have downloaded the Gong system since it was released, with two-thirds using it for integration into the Moodle environment and one-third downloading Gong for use either as a stand-alone system or for integration into a different LMS.