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Voice Threads

Module by: Andriana Hench, Erin Rainey. E-mail the authors

Summary: This module explains the use of voice threads and possible applications in the classroom.

Overview

Voice Threads are an instrument of communication where you can create a presentation of photographs and/or videos and provide comments. Viewers have the option of making an audio comment and/or a written text text comment. If the commenter does not have a voice recorder on his or her computer, you can type in your phone number by clicking on the phone icon, and the program will call you and record your message into the phone, and post it shortly after.

There is also a special doodle feature where, if you want to point something out or draw attention to a given point, you can circle it, highlight it, or make any drawing you like, so that when the thread is shown, your marks will appear to the viewers. If showing a video and you want to point something out, you can pause it and keep talking about it, and use the doodle tool to enhance your comments, as well. A special feature, especially for use in the classroom is that the creater can moderate the comments that appear to the general public by choosing to turn comment moderation on. Once the comment is approved, then others who view the thread can hear or read the comment.

There are many ways to use voice threads in the classroom. It can be used for an individual presentation as a sort of adaptation or advancement on a powerpoint presentation. It can also be used for a group project because anyone with an account can comment on the photo or video that is displayed. This can be beneficial as a way for one class to share with another class what they are studying, or parents to see what their students are learning and creating in class. It also provides a voice for those students who are less outgoing and vocal in class. If a student feels uncomfortable speaking their thoughts or response, that student may type instead.

http://voicethread.com/ - q

How to Get Started With Voice Threads

Step-By-Step directions to starting your Voicethreads account and basic design: http://langwitches.org/blog/2008/06/19/digital-storytelling-part-vi-voicethread/

Here is a fantastic website on how to get started with Voice Threads in your classroom: http://digitallyspeaking.pbwiki.com/Voicethread

Classroom Examples

Mrs. Ngai’s Classroom

This second grade classroom uses VoiceThreads to display and allow students to comment on each other’s work, as well as to demonstrate their knowledge about various topics. The teacher posts an image and has the students comment explaining concepts such as animal camouflage or seasonal changes.

http://www.ngaiclassroom.meyertown.com/voicethread.htm

Dave Chamberlain’s Class: Tutorials

This middle school math teacher uses VoiceThreads to post tutorials for his students. Rather than attempting to type an explanation of a math concept, he can post verbal explanations accompanied by images of the problem and solution.

http://mathblog.davechamberlain.net/2008/08/voicethread.html

Miss Nagle’s Kindergarten Class: Animal Habitats

These kindergarten students created their own images of animal habitats using KidPix and then posted them to VoiceThread with a short explanation of the habitat, what animals live there, etc. When all the threads were linked together, students had a great, concise review of the different habitats they had learned about.

http://voicethread.com/#q.b49946.i262086

An Introduction to Brazil

Ronaldo’s English class in Brazil participates in the “sister classes” program, in which students and teachers share about their countries and cultures through blogs and other online resources. This VoiceThread project was one part of their work for that program: students selected images of five major cities in Brazil and recorded their comments as an introduction to Brazil for their sister class.

http://voicethread4education.wikispaces.com/EFL+%26+ESL#toc3

Assessing Voice Threads for the Classroom

Pros

Interactive and engaging

Allows students to be creative

Exciting and different mode of teaching from the everyday

Increase participation for shy students

Extends the classroom

Extends the audience

Gives students sense of accomplishment and contribution

Helpful as review or introduction to concept

Creator can control content that is posted

Creator can make posting public or private

Bring together different perspectives and thoughts – students get to interact and hear each other’s ideas more than if they had each presented their thoughts just to the teacher or a small group

Cons

Need computers and other equipment

Need certain level of efficiency with using computers

Can be daunting if unfamiliar with creating projects on a computer

Students may get distracted when working on the computer

Parents may object to child’s voice and/or opinions available to public access

May be difficult to use with younger students

If the power goes out, you’re out of luck. Which we found out the hard way.

Considerations for Teachers

Experiment first, making sure that you know your way around the site before your students come to you with questions. Start by giving them simple tasks, and work your way up to a big, creative project.

Take advantage of time- and energy-saving features, such as the ability to copy previous voicethreads to use in your classroom. Teachers are supposed to be great thieves, and this is a good opportunity to save yourself some effort and redirect it toward creating a really good lesson.

Consider highlighting especially insightful comments in front of the class. This is great motivation for students and a nice ego boost for students whose comments are shown.

Make sure you stay involved in the discussion with your students. It is important for the students to get an idea of what is expected in their comments: level of insight, structure, grammar, etc.

Start small: don’t feel pressured to upload a ton of images at the very beginning. Your project will develop a life of its own once you get the students involved.

Here is an article from Edutopia about the use of Voice threads in the classroom:

http://www.edutopia.org/voicethread-interactive-multimedia-albums

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