Automated speech assessment in Moodle with the help of Digitala plugin

16.5.2022
During spring 2022, the DigiTala research project developed a Moodle plugin called Digitala. The plugin enables automated speaking assessment in Finnish and Swedish. The software for the plugin was programmed by four Computer Science students at the University of Helsinki as a part of their Software Engineering Lab course.

A central goal for the DigiTala project has been to develop applications for automated speech assessment. After the first version of the assessment API designed by Aalto University was ready and trained with speech samples and teachers’ assessments, there was still a lack of user interface for the tool. To create assignments, record speech performances and get automated assessment in a report form, the Moodle plugin Digitala was made. 

Oppilaan näkymä Digitala-tehtävästä

Di­gi­ta­la plugin in student and teacher use 

In the Digitala plugin a student can see the assignment made by the teacher. This can include the assignment prompt and some additional material like pictures. The student can record their speech performance and submit the recording for automated assessment in Aalto University’s server. On Aalto’s end the recording is transformed into text with automated speech recognition (ASR) technology and assessed automatically. The evaluation report is shown to the student on Moodle. The report shows the students score in numbers, charts, and gives some verbal feedback on distinctive features of the performance, e.g., fluency and range. In addition, the student can see the transcription of their speech as text and listen to their performance on an audio player.

Oppilaan raporttisivu Digitalassa

A teacher can create two types of speech assignments: in read aloud assignments the student reads the given text aloud and in free form assignments the student ought to speak more freely about the given subject. The teacher can also suggest changes and give feedback on the automated assessment given by the machine. It is yet possible to download more detailed information about the students’ performances and assessments in the plugin and export all the student recordings. 

Future of the plugin 

The first version of Digitala was released in May of 2022. It will be more widely tested in schools the coming autumn. After feedback from test users the plugin can be developed further. 

In the Digitala plugin it can be defined with which assessment API the plugin communicates with. The Aalto assessment API used in the project is taught to assess Swedish and Finnish speech performances, but it could be trained to assess other languages. This could open the possibility to use the Digitala plugin in other languages too.