July 2014Technology

Rich Internet Applications: Overview, Audio Dropbox, Conversations

Angelika KraemerAngelika Kraemer, PhD, Executive Associate Director, Center for Language Teaching Advancement, MSU.

Daniel TregoDaniel Trego, MA, Foreign Language Technology Specialist, Dept of Romance and Classical Studies, MSU.


Betsy LavoletteBetsy Lavolette, PhD, Director, Language Resource Center, Gettysburg College.

The Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) are a suite of free, web-based tools that support language learning and teaching and engage students through multimedia and interactivity. The RIAs (pronounced REE-ah) are developed by the Center for Language Education and Research (CLEAR), the federally-funded Language Resource Center at Michigan State University. Since RIAs are tools, not content, they are applicable to any language, level, or text.

Why RIAs? Language instructors often struggle with time constraints and class size. RIAs allow educators to extend learning and practice beyond the classroom and address different learning styles and learner types. RIAs provide a great avenue for individual online language practice outside the classroom, allowing students to gain confidence and fluency without in-class pressure.

To access the RIAs, instructors need to sign up for a free CLEAR account. Most RIAs can be embedded in course management sites or blogs, so students generally do not need to create accounts.

There are currently twelve RIAs focusing on different language skills. The RIAs range from audio and video recorders to a process writing tool and handwriting practice for non-Roman characters. Several individual RIAs will be described in this and upcoming Tech Highlights.

The most popular RIAs are Audio Dropbox and Conversations.

Audio Dropbox is an audio collection tool. Students record themselves online, and the recordings appear in the instructor’s dropbox. This RIA offers a quick way to get students to practice speaking and eliminates the need to share large .wav files. Students can practice before submitting their recordings.

Audio Dropbox icon.
Student view of Audio Dropbox: Easy online recording studio.







Audio Dropbox interface.
Teacher view of Audio Dropbox: Easy playback from within a browser, timestamp, ability to download as MP3 for archival purposes.









Conversations takes speaking practice one step further, simulating face-to-face conversations. Teachers record a series of audio/video prompts and students respond by recording audio/video. This is a great tool for formative assessment of individual students’ proficiency levels. Conversations can also be used for listen-and-repeat activities, for interviews, or to respond to a series of prompts.


Conversations interface of video from instructor.
Student view of Conversations: Students can practice listening to prompts and responding by selecting the numbers to the left of the recording window (teachers can deselect this practice option if they wish); “Real-Time” plays back all prompts in a row and students have to respond just like they would in a face-to-face scenario.














Conversations interface of video and student responses.
Teacher view of Conversations: Easy playback from within a browser, timestamp, ability to download as MP4 for archival purposes.














Each RIA landing page includes an overview flier, FAQs, step-by-step PDF documentation, quick start-up guides for teachers and students, as well as YouTube links to tutorial videos. The tools are easy to use and students enjoy working with them.

Stay tuned for our next Tech Highlight featuring Mashups, Snapshot, and Viewpoint.

2 thoughts on “Rich Internet Applications: Overview, Audio Dropbox, Conversations

  • Hi there, I tried to sign up for a free CLEAR account in order to access the RIAs mentioned on this page, especially Audio Dropbox and Conversations. Unfortuantely, when I click on the link, I got a 404 Not Found error message.

    Is there any way this can be rectified?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Unfortunately, the RIA are now retired. I suggest you check out Flipgrid, it is a good alternative for audio recording and asynchronous conversations.


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