voicethread workshop

14 08 2009

I know this is a great tool and while it is greater for online classes, it is also good for hybrid classes. This was a hands-on workshop that lasted two hours.

Can you feel it? Enhancing social presence, personalization and community with Voicethread

Presenter: Michelle Pacansky-Brock; CSU, East Bay
Handouts could be downloaded from: http://mpbreflections.blogspot.com

Objectives: to evaluate VT’s effectiveness for fostering social presence, personalization and community in online learning and to demonstrate how to use it.


How do you engage your students in this personalized, interconnected, digital world they live in? are they engaged here in class? Am I really reaching them? In Blackboard, she felt she was very limited and could not do things she wanted to do. The challenge was to teach visually regardless of what we were teaching. No matter what she did they were not engaged. She did not reach them. That was challenging. Yet she knew that if she went outside Blackboard there is a web 2.0 boom – a dynamic community-oriented online community. She wanted to acknowledge that the world was changing and that it was time to change the way she taught as well. She wanted to encourage collaboration and foster community – that sense of being part of a group who is striving towards a shared goal where you encourage students to reach a goal that they will willingly participate in. That is what community is. Then she discovered VoiceThread.

VT is an online media output that could hold essentially any type of media but it’s strength is not in text, and allows people to make comments in 5 different ways – using voice (with a mic or phone) text, audio, or video with a webcam and share them with anyone. A VT allows group conversations to be collected and shared in one place from anywhere in the world.

There is also a ‘globalness’ in this tool because we are educating for a global society. What happens when we put students in touch with other people around the world – with students from other cultures etc. There is some great potential in this.

Sometimes she puts up pictures and lets students comment on those pictures – but she puts about 6 for example and asks them to comment on two. She always tells them not to repeat each other’s comments.

VoiceThread has of course accessibility issues – screen readers do not read it so that poses a problem. The point is that you need to choose your own tools to enhance your course.

Example of things you can create on vt: You can create a presentation using voicthread and let them comment on the presentation or on each slide. Provide a question or give them specific prompts and let them comment on it etc. Students could themselves present their material in vt.

New pedagogies emerged from using vt. She started to move to collaborative learning. Students were asked to provide definitions of certain concepts.

Participation in the application was important for student to learn from each other.

There is always an introductory slide which provides guidelines to students and what is expected of them. VT takes less of our time and the feedback we give to students is much better and it is constructive but also visual. There were fewer hurt feelings and greater collaboration, but might result in a higher grade [this would require a study].

You can embed the vt in other sites but it is not as effective because it needs to be seen on a larger scale. Vt also is planning to release a new version to let us reorder the comment threads. The comments are not time-stamped and that would be a good thing. The person who says the comment has the ability to delete it and as creator of the thread you have the ability to delete anyone’s.

More educational uses: discussion board alternative, visual and oral assessments etc.

There is a handout on her blog for the steps to create a voicethread.

Students pay nothing for the account but she recommends that as a teacher you need to pay for the pro-account which is $59.95/year. For the free account you can create only 3 voicethread.

Finally in the workshop there was a hands-on exercise on how to use it.




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