Review by Stacy Zeiger, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2014
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Croak.it!

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Novel audio-based social media platform could raise privacy concerns

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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Grades
K-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Timed recordings encourage students to express themselves, while teaching them to be succinct.

Cons: Overall design and feel convey an apparent lack of quality, and social media connection can lead to privacy concerns.

Bottom Line: Croaking may entertain kids but requires constant monitoring to make sure they stay focused on education.

Because the platform limits croaks to 30 seconds, students must choose their words carefully. Teachers can take virtually any short writing or discussion prompt and have students complete it with a croak instead of with a more traditional response. These activities could include 30-second book reviews, brief overviews of research topics, prepared statements for debate, or even creative advertisements. Teachers can also take advantage of the comment features to allow students to interact with one another, using croaks to start a discussion or to have students share additional information. Instead of having students record croaks, teachers may opt to record their own croaks, sharing quick audio clips for students to ask questions about or posing discussion questions for students to answer in the comments section.

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Croak.it! offers a simple design with a simple mission -- users record 30-second croaks (audio messages), upload them to a larger collection of croaks, and share them with others. Croak users' shares can be anonymous, posted as guests, or posted to their accounts after signing up via Facebook, Twitter, or email. Those who elect to sign up using a social media account have the option to also post their croaks to their Facebook or Twitter feeds.

Once users have posted a croak -- if they choose to make it public -- it becomes available for comments. Users can listen to and comment on croaks posted by other users, including those found in the croak gallery. They can search for pre-recorded croaks by keyword or simply listen to the hot, trending, and newest croaks on the network. If users hear a croak they like, they have the option of following that user, so any new croaks by the same user immediately appear in their account feed, and they can start to connect on the Croak.it! network.

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The idea of creating short audio recordings on a variety of topics will likely appeal to many students. Not only do students get the opportunity to express themselves in a non-traditional way, they also must do it in 30 seconds, forcing them to think critically about their messages before recording them. Unfortunately, the design of Croak.it! may keep this social media network from becoming a staple in the classroom. Instead of feeling like a quality tool, it has the feel of a cheap social network, with a poorly organized archive of pre-recorded croaks and user comments that contain little substance beyond "hey" and "follow me." The ability to add comments on croaks and to connect with other users also raises privacy concerns for teachers and could lead to bullying or other negative uses of the system. Teachers who closely monitor student activity, and who encourage students to look beyond the apparent lack of quality and focus on creating high-quality croaks and thoughtful comments, may find it becomes an entertaining and educational tool for students.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

The ability to connect to others through short voice messages on virtually any topic can be engaging for students.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
2

Without thoughful teacher guidance and support, the lack of organization and substance could keep kids from focusing on academic activities.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Voice messages can help poor readers, ESL students, and others with special needs learn to communicate effectively.


Common Sense Reviewer
Stacy Zeiger Homeschooling parent

Teacher Reviews

5
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Featured review by
Heather C. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Northwest High School
Indianapolis, IN
5
Awesome voice recording tool to showcase and publish student work

I think Crok.it has a lot of potential in the classroom. There is so much value in creating short audio clips, especially in the primary grades. Students can use it for retelling stories, predicting outcomes, reading short clips for fluency checks and so much more. The best part is that you can use the link to share and publish the product. The link can also be tranferred into a QR code to post around the room, in books etc.

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