Creating a More Accessible Classroom Experience with Mote

Creating a classroom environment where all learners have access to the materials and experiences used for instruction has historically presented a challenge for educators.

Before the infusion of devices in classrooms and 1:1 environments increasingly being the norm, there were significant barriers if an educator truly wanted ensure all learners had equal access to class content.

While there are multiple technologies, web tools and approaches educators can use to create an accessible environment for all learners, Voice notes created with Mote can play a significant role in creating a more accessible classroom as it fits into the larger framework presented by CAST AEM Center:

Accessibility is shaped by what we need to do, our interactions with the environment, and our personal preferences. Educational materials and technologies are “accessible” to people with disabilities if they are able to “acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services” as people who do not have disabilities. As a person with a disability, you must be able to achieve these three goals “in an equally integrated and equally effective manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use” (Joint Letter US Department of Justice and US Department of Education, June 29, 2010).

Consider the three key determining factors in the quote above that align perfectly with the abilities that Mote puts into the hands of educators that directly impacts the experience of the learner: acquire, engage, and enjoy. Let’s explore these three categories and how they align to the capacity of Mote.


Educators can add audio to Google Docs, Google Slides or any webpage with a Sticky Mote to allow all students to acquire the information.

Whether students are emerging readers, developing fluency with the target language in the classroom or have a reading disability, embedded audio support from Mote addresses the acquire domain.


If we define engage by the ability to participate in a classroom experience, consider the traditional practice of formative assessment that requires students to respond with text. This barrier immediately excludes students from participation. However, with Mote embedded into a Google Form, learners can now engage with this experience by responding with audio and text.


Consider the impact that audio can have on a student’s enjoyment when their educators voice can be added to nearly any digital experience. Web content (readings, images, video) can be supplemented with an educator’s voice that transforms the experience for the learner.

Learner Variability & Barriers

While education may traditionally consider accessibility as addressing the educational needs of a subset of learners, emerging research indicates that all learners have a level of unique need. While accessibility is normally approached through the lens of supporting learners that may traditionally struggle, the concept of learner variability suggests a more inclusive approach.

…all students differ, and learning sciences research show that these differences matter for learning…learner variability, as defined here, embraces both students who struggle and those who thrive, Why? Because of the natural variability found in each person, in school and beyond.

The impact that Mote can have on the classroom is magnified when one considers the convergence of accessibility and learner variability.

With this broader perspective, audio can become a central component of a universally accessible classroom for all learners, regardless of their level of academic achievement.

As outlined above, audio can unlock classroom content and remove barriers of entry for learners that would traditionally be excluded from a learning experience. Students that may not fit into a traditionally defined subset of learners that require accessibility modifications can still benefit from audio.

Whether it be through audio feedback, audio based discussion forums, accessible versions of educational materials may mean the difference between learning barriers and learning opportunities. (Access to Learning – National Center on Accessible Education Materials)

Guest post from Greg Kulowiec


Back to School with Mote: Audio Research

Traditional Research Experience

Guiding students through the process of conducting high quality research is a core aspect of many classrooms. Increasingly, web based content has become the most likely domain where students will find and evaluate research materials. As a former high school history teacher, one of the challenges I faced while guiding students through a research experience was making their research process transparent. When they found a new piece of web based information I would have them log notes on a document about the information, website or article in an effort to have them demonstrate their evaluation of the source. Additionally, this log would allow them to return to the original source, revisit the materials and use it in the following days.

Why Audio Research?

The problem that emerged with the process outlined above is that while students would often taken content related notes about the material they found by pulling quotes or excerpts for future reference, they would rarely add context for themselves.

Questions such as:

How do I know this is reliable?

Where do I intent to use this?

How does this help strengthen my argument?

Further, without these types of questions being addressed, I often had an inaccurate read on the quality and understanding students were developing throughout the process.

Audio Research Process & Experience

There are two approaches educators and students can use with Mote to create evidence of quality student research with audio. Sticky Motes and audio in Google Sheets.

Sticky Motes allow students to add audio to any web based content. In the context of research, when a student finds an article, primary source or resource, when they are done evaluating and analyzing the content they can add a Sticky Mote as evidence of their analysis. A unique link is created and both the teacher and student can use that link as a reference of both the student process and as a reminder later in the research process of the student’s thoughts about the resource and how it might fit into their research. The video walk-through below demonstrates the use of Sticky Motes!

Creating Sticky Mote

Audio Research on Google Sheets

Google Sheets are a great way for students to organize their research. With a structured research template, students can add the link to their resource, a description, tag the research with keywords, and add an embedded audio card with Mote! The embedded audio card can act as a tool for educators to truly get a sense of what students know and understand and as insight into the process of their research experience. For the student, the embedded audio card can act as a reminder of their analysis, understanding and intention for using the research as they progress into the writing phase. The video below walks through this process in Google Sheets.


5 Back to School Student Projects with Mote

Mote is a powerful feedback tool for educators that allows students to receive in depth, personal, and contextual feedback from the instructor on their work. Mote is also a powerful creation tool, that when in the hands of students, it can be used to create powerful demonstrations of learning through the medium of audio. As school is heading back into session for many educators and students, the Mote education team wanted to share 5 creative back to school projects that can be used across any grade level and content area. From micr0-podcasting, to non-linear storytelling, there is are multiple outlets and pathways for student creativity below!

Project 1: Micro-Podcasts

Project 2: Narrated Stop-Motion Animation

Project 3: Virtual Audio Tours

Project 4: Audio Timelines

Project 5: Non-Linear Storytelling


5 More Back to School Skills with Mote!

After our first back to school skills with Mote post, we realized that another 5 back to school skills were in order as the potential for using Mote for the coming school simply can’t be confined to only 5 approaches! Whether it is increasing efficiency by reusing audio comments with the Motebook, or increasing accessibility to Google Forms with audio, this second round of back to school skills only expands the classroom potential for Mote!


The Motebook allows educators to record and reuse audio again and again! If there are feedback ideas, suggestions, or instructional comments that you find yourself typing often, simply record them with the Mote Chrome extension in the Motepad and reuse them across student assignments with the Motebook feature.

Mote in Google Forms

Google Forms is a classroom staple for formative assessment, exit tickets and quick check-ins.  With the Mote, educators can now increase accessibility for their students by including audio with Mote in Google Forms.  The audio will appear as an embedded audio card if students have Mote installed in their browser.  Additionally, students can reply to a question in Google Forms with audio if they have Mote installed.

Sending Mote in Gmail

Tone and intention can often be lost when sending a message purely through text.  Mote for Gmail allows educators to send audio as an email message.  Whether communicating with colleagues, students or parents / guardians, adding a layer of voice to any email can increase understanding and clarity of the message.

Install the Mote iOS app

Mote on iOS opens up a whole new world of audio feedback potential for educators.  From addings comments on student work in Google Classroom, to adding an audio comment in a Google Document, the Mote iOS app makes audio commenting fast and convenient.  From an iOS device, head to the app store and search for “mote” to begin the process of creating shareable audio links from your mobile device.

Sticky Mote with YouTube

YouTube video content is often provided for students as an introduction to a new concept or as a means to explore an idea in greater depth outside of class.  However, it can be challenging for students to know and understand exactly what they should be looking for while watching.  Sticky Motes allow educators to add a layer of audio on top of any web based content and this works perfectly with YouTube video.  Instead of sharing the YouTube link, share the Sticky Mote link which provides a helpful layer of audio from the teacher that students can listen to before watching the YouTube video.

Don’t forget to join us on August 20th and 21st for the first ever MoteCon! Two days with over 10 sessions of all things Mote!


5 Back to School Skills with Mote

With educators and students heading back into session, the Mote Education team has compiled 5 back to school skills that educators can use to create dynamic learning experiences and provide effective feedback. From the new Mote iOS app, to web back sticky Motes, and Google Classroom, there is a Mote skill and approach in this top 5 list for everyone! Which new skill will you integrate into your classroom practice?

Skill 1: Sticky Mote

An essential Mote skill for any educators that used web based instructional content. Sticky Motes allow educators to create audio recordings that are layered on anything on the web. Instead of sharing the original URL for the web based content, use the Mote Chrome extension to record an audio note and then, simply copy, paste, and share the Mote URL with students. When they visit the URL, they are instantly redirected to the web content, but with a layer of audio that appears in the top right corner of the page…at Sticky Mote!

The video walk-through below demonstrates how Sticky Motes can be used with images and video on the web to create dynamic virtual tours with audio!

Skill 2: iOS / iPhone Feedback 

Mote has gone mobile! From the iOS app educators can record and share audio from a mobile device to anywhere a link can be pasted. Once the app is installed and the Mote keyboard is granted access in the keyboard settings, users can tap on the globe icon on the keyboard to begin recording in the Mote app. The intuitive app will redirect the user back to their original app location and the link to the audio can be pasted. 

Educators can now add audio feedback on student work across all core Google Apps (Docs, Slides, Classroom) directly from an iOS device.

The quick video demo below shows the process of adding audio feedback from an iOS device to Google Classroom. 

Skill 3: Google Classroom

Educators using Google Classroom have a host of options for integrating Mote into their digital workflow. From adding voice comments in the class stream as an announcement, to leaving private audio comments on student work, with the Mote Chrome Extension installed audio can be added to nearly every aspect of Google classroom. 

Voice Feedback on Google Classroom Assignments:

Skill 4: Google Docs Audio Cards 

While the most traditional use of Mote is as an audio comment in a Google Document, a second capacity of Mote in Google Docs is to create embedded audio cards. Unlike comments which are not included in copies of original documents, audio cards are present in duplicate copies. While in a document, click on the Mote Chrome Extension and record audio. When finished, copy the link to the audio note and simply paste the link into the body of the document. The audio appears as an embedded audio card that is playable directly in the document.

Skill 5: Google Slides: Change Audio Image

Mote in Google Slides allows educators to transform Google Slides into a rich audio environment for students. One helpful back to school skill is to know how to change the purple audio icon that appears by default after each recording. This technique can be quite helpful when explaining a concept and the audio needs to be directly embedded in the image or graphic itself.

Check out the excerpt from a Mote Pop-up PD below where Mote Education Advocate Sue Tranchina demonstrates this process.


If these back to school skills are helpful, join us on August 20th and 21st for the first ever MoteCon! With 10 sessions over two days, there is a new Mote strategy or approach for everyone.

Which Mote back to school skill will become a part of your classroom process? Let us know in the comments below or share with us on socials.

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Education iOS

Feedback on the go with Mote for iOS

With students and educators heading back into session, Mote for iOS is ready to create a new approach to teacher feedback. Providing quality feedback on student work is one of the most impactful practices that educators can adopt for the new school year. However, two common barriers to implementing this practice are time and convenience. With the recent release of Mote on iOS, educators can now create audio comments across all Google Workspace for Education apps directly from an iOS device!  This new environment for creating audio feedback and comments creates a whole new pathway for educators to review student work and guide them towards the learning target with personalized, accessible feedback. 

Whether educators are in person, remote or hybrid, there is a meaningful use case for the Mote iOS app across all three settings. In an in person setting, mobile audio comments can be created and added to student work quickly and easily during a prep period, student specials, or while on a duty. In a remote setting, the mobile device allows educators to keep their primary laptop centered on instructional content and video conferencing, while the mobile device acts as an audio feedback creation tool. 

There are a number of varied approaches educators can use to provide audio feedback on student work. Depending on the digital environment for student work, one of the scenarios below should be a helpful addition to your feedback process. 

Note: Upon installing the Mote iOS app, enable the Mote keyboard in the device settings. The app walks through this process when it is opened for the first time. 

Scenario 1: Google Classroom

From the Mote iOS app, educators can leave comments in Google Classroom as private comments on student assignments. Mote for iOS and Google Classroom is a great way for educators to leave timely, meaningful and in depth audio comments on student work directly in Google Classroom. To leave a private audio comment on student work, follow the process below!

  1. Open Google Classroom
  2. On the Classwork page, tap on an assignment
  3. Tap on a student name 
  4. Tap in the Add private comment field
  5. Tap on the Globe icon (bottom left corner of the keyboard) to record with Mote
  6. Record audio
  7. Return to Google Classroom (tap top left corner as indicated in the app)
  8. Send the audio comment! 

Scenario 2: Google Docs & Slides in Comments

When leaving targeted, specific and contextual feedback on student work, audio in the comment section of student work in a Google Doc or Slides is ideal. Using the Mote iOS app, educators can create a new comment in either Google file and add audio directly in that new comment. Follow the process below to leave an audio in a Google Doc comment.

  1. Open the Google Doc or Slides
  2. Tap and select text & add a comment
  3. Tap in the comment and then select the globe icon (bottom left corner of the keyboard) to record with Mote
  4. Record audio
  5. Return to the Doc or Slides (tap in top left corner as indicated in the app)
  6. Send the audio comment!

Scenario 3: Google Docs & Slides in the Body

It may be helpful to leave an audio comment directly in the body of student work or to even modify an existing assignment template with audio from a mobile device. Educators can quickly add clarification on directions to an existing Google Doc, directly from their mobile device. Follow the steps below to get started!

  1. Open the Google Doc or Slides
  2. Tap in the Doc or Slide where the comment will be added in the body of the Doc or Slide
  3. Tap in the comment and then select the globe icon (bottom left corner of the keyboard) to record with Mote
  4. Record audio
  5. Return to the Doc or Slides (tap in top left corner as indicated in the app)
  6. Repeat as needed

The Mote team is really excited about the new iOS app and the potential for Mote users and educators to begin creating and sharing audio on the go from an iOS device.


6 Ways Mote Supports Universal Design for Learning

Understanding UDL Through the Lens of Mote

Consider the substantial challenges that have traditionally existed when educators are working towards making their classroom materials, experience and assessments accessible to all learners.  In a paper based classroom environment, this becomes excessively time consuming as the materials need to be completely redesigned.  Until recently, many challenges around creating accessible materials in a 1:1, technology rich classroom still created barriers for many educators.  The tools and platforms are often simply not intuitive enough to be integrated efficiently.  When approaching the work of designing classrooms to be universally accessible and designed for all learners, Mote and audio is an ideal fit that fulfills a number of accessibility design tenants while being seamlessly integrated into Google Workspace platforms educators are comfortable navigating.   

How might we make the learning experience more accessible to all learners by leveraging technology to remove unnecessary barriers to student understanding, engagement, and demonstration?  Mote and Universal Design For Learning.

Universal Design for Learning, a framework that is designed to improve teaching, learning, and assessment for all learners addresses three areas in which classroom content and experiences can be designed to create a more inclusive and accessible learning experience.  Through the lenses of: engagement (why), representation (what), and expression (how), educators can examine the ways in which the structure of their classroom experience is designed for all learners.  Audio in particular through the use of Mote is an ideal approach to redesign the classroom experience based on UDL principles.  While traditionally there has been a significant barrier to the modification of materials, assessment and tasks with the use of audio, Mote removes the technical obstacles and allows educators to add a layer of audio across multiple digital environments.  By blending the powerful framework of classroom design via UDL with the capacity of Mote, educators can begin the process of increasing accessibility for all learners.

Where Mote Supports UDL

Visual Credit: CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from

UDL and Mote Audio – Detailed Connections

The team at Mote considers accessibility and universal access to educational experiences to be a critical role that audio can play in the classroom.  Mote audio, when integrated through the targeted and precise framework of UDL, gives educators a specific vision for how audio can improve the student experience.  

The UDL framework categorizes the classroom experience into three broad categories (engagement, representation, and action) that are then broken into three sub concepts. Within each of these UDL subcategories are specific considerations educators can take when making their classrooms accessible and designed for all learners.  Mote is the ideal tool to help educators bridge the gap between the concepts presented in the UDL framework, and the practical applications of these ideas in the classroom. 

6 Ways Mote Supports the UDL Framework

UDL Theme: Providing Multiple Means of Engagement – The Why of Learning
1. Vary demands and resources to optimize the challenge

How Mote Supports this UDL Concept: Educators can quickly vary the complexity of a challenge by adding supplementary audio into either Google Slides, Docs or Forms to support learners.  Within a Google environment, the original version of an assignment or task can be quickly duplicated and audio can be added to support all learners.

Video Tutorial Support: 

Mote Minutes – Forms

Mote Minutes – Docs

Mote Minutes – Slides

2. Develop Self Assessment and Reflection

How Mote Supports this UDL Concept: Mote allows educators to create an accessible digital environment where students can reflect on and monitor their own progress and learning.  Additionally, educators can design the self assessment or reflection to support all learners by including audio prompts into the experience.

Vide Tutorial Support:

Mote Minutes – Forms

Mote for Student Reflection 

UDL Theme: Provide Multiple Means of Representations – The What of Learning
3. Clarify Vocabulary and Symbols

How Mote Supports this UDL Concept: Mote is an ideal tool to clarify key vocabulary and symbols as educators can use Mote in a Google document to embed a Mote audio card along with any work or concept.  Further, Mote in slides allows educators to make any visual connect directly to playable audio.  Also, the ability for Mote to translate teacher audio notes into text in a foreign language allows educators to talk through a concept and present the learner with both the audio support and the text support in multiple languages.

Video Tutorial Support:

Mote Minutes – Transcription & Translation

4. Offer Alternatives for Visual Information

How Mote Supports this UDL Concept: Whether the educators need to create complete translations, or simply add auditory cues into the student experience, both approaches are supported with Mote.  In Google Slides or Docs, teacher audio can be added that students can actively click to receive alternate support. In an assessment environment, educators can add Mote audio into a Google Form to clarify, explain and provide an alternative to both text and images that appear in the form. 

Video Tutorial Support:

Mote Minutes – Google Docs

Mote Minutes – Slides

Mote Minutes – Forms

UDL Theme: Provide Multiple Means of Expression – The How of Learning
5. Build Fluencies with Graduated Levels of Support

How Mote Supports this UDL Concept: Mote is an ideal fit for this UDL concept as educators can build audio scaffolds into digital experiences that can gradually be released or removed.  Consider a passage or short text students will read that can be scaffolded, where needed, with short audio clips from the educator.  As students progress through the year, these audio supports may be removed by the educator, or can become optional supports when needed by the student.

Video Tutorial Support:

Mote Minutes – Google Docs

6. Use multiple media for communication 

How Mote Supports this UDL Concept: Educators often get stuck when designing tasks and assessments where the task is tied to only one means of expression.  Students may be asked to demonstrate their understanding through text, yet their ability to write clearly is not being assessed, it is their ability to explain a concept.  In this UDL concept, Mote is an ideal fit as students can express their understanding through audio in the same environment where an educator is also providing a space to express their understanding through text.  In either a Google Document, Slides or Form, educators can allow students to reply to a question or prompt in text form, or students can record their voice response with Mote.

Video Tutorial Support:

Micro-podcasting with Mote

Mote Minutes – Google Docs

Mote Minutes – Slides

Mote Minutes – Forms

Why Mote & UDL?

Increasing accessibility for all learners creates a classroom environment where the learner can achieve without unnecessary barriers to understanding and expression. With the inclusion of Mote and audio to digital classroom materials, educators can clear these barriers and create space for all students to flourish.


Student Reflection and Mote

Why Student Reflection?

Providing the opportunity and structure for high quality student reflection is a critical component of meaningful learning experiences that allow students to not only demonstrate their understanding of curriculum concepts, but to articulate their process and learning.  In Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind, student reflection is referred to as the process where students, “construct meaning from the content learned and from the process of learning it.”  The challenge here is to get students to shift their thinking when engaged in reflection to move away from simply describing the process or task they were engaged with, to critically evaluating their own learning, growth and shifts that took place as a result of the experience.  While this shift can be difficult, it can reasonably be overcome with the use of structured thinking routines that emphasize reflection and growth over content.  

Photo Credit: Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

There is an additional challenge and a potential barrier that exists when asking students to engage in reflection, the modality by which educators require the reflection to take place.  Consider a student attempting to reflect on their learning with the barrier of writing or using text to express oneself as the single modality.  This barrier is likened to the work of Grant Wiggins around the validity of assessment.  Wiggins layed out a two part test for validity that is meant to help educators evaluate if unreasonable barriers are being added to an assessment process.  He asks, “Could the students do a poor job on the task but still provide lots of evidence that they can otherwise meet the goal of the assessment?”  This directly connects to the theme of asking students to reflect exclusively through a written or text interaction.  Some students might find this to be an unreasonable barrier that does not allow them to effectively reflect on their learning.


Reflection via Thinking Routines & Mote

When considering the importance of student reflection and the need to remove any unnecessary barriers to student thinking, expression through audio reflection and the use of Mote by students to capture their reflection process is an ideal combination.  With Mote, students can record their reflection as an audio comment in a Google Document, or they can add an audio reflection directly into a set of Google Slides that is acting as a personal reflection journal.  Either of these digital environments, when combined with Mote remove any unnecessary barriers to student reflection and provide an outlet for student voice.

The last step in making this process meaningful is to address the original challenge, helping students shift their thinking from a description of their task to a reflection of their own learning.  With the use of Project Zero’s Visible Thinking Routines, in conjunction with Mote, educators can create the perfect opportunity for audio reflection. Consider students engaging with the thinking routine, Connect, Extend, Challenge that is presented in Google Slide where each portion of the routine is answered with Mote audio. Or the powerful reflection routine, I used to think, but now I think, that is again presented in a Google Slide where students can record their voice directly into the slide and reply to each portion of the thinking prompt. 

If you are interested in leveraging Mote audio to promote student reflection with Visible Thinking Routines from Project Zero, use the template below to make a copy of a set of Google Slides.

Audio Thinking Routines with Mote & Google Slides