Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day 19 -- VoiceThread

Our guest blogger today is Michele Eaton, 2nd grade teacher at Chapelwood Elementary in MSD of Wayne Township. You can find Michele on Twitter @lyonmi.

What is VoiceThread?

VoiceThread is a web-based presentation and slideshow tool that allows users to post images, documents, videos, and presentations online.  Once uploaded, these presentations can be narrated by a single person or become the background for a recorded conversation between several people.  Users also have the ability to record annotations over the presentation while speaking.  The conversations on each slide can be recorded in several ways.  Users can leave audio comments with a microphone, web camera, or telephone.  Audio files can also be uploaded, and written comments can be left with no sound.

Below is a VoiceThread tutorial provided by the website that demonstrates the basics on creating this type of presentation:

    

Educators have a couple options when setting up accounts for their students.  If the students have an email address, they can each sign up for a free VoiceThread account individually.  There is also an educator version that a teacher or school can pay for that allows student accounts to be created without an email.

Another free option is to create a teacher account and use "identities" to represent each of the students in a classroom.  Every user has the ability to post under an unlimited number of aliases referred to as identities. While this is a free option for teachers, it is more difficult to monitor posts as each alias can not be moderated as easily.  It is not an additional account, but rather an extension of one user.  View the following VoiceThread to see how to set up multiple identities and the implications of doing so:

 

How to Use VoiceThread in the Classroom

VoiceThread is a free tool that does not require the download of any application.  This particular aspect makes it a great choice for teachers and students when an assignment requires conversation or presentation of some kind.  Below is an extensive list of activities that can be best supported through the use of VoiceThread.  

  • Because VoiceThread allows multiple users to comment on a single slide, this tool becomes a great medium for classroom debates or discussions.  
  • VoiceThread can also be used in conjunction with De Bono's 6 Thinking Hats.  If you are unfamiliar with this discussion strategy, you may be interested in reading the following blog post that I wrote about a year ago on this topic, when I was just beginning to explore the possibilities of VoiceThread in my own classroom.  VoiceThread and De Bono's 6 Thinking Hats
  • Digital Storytelling is a great activity that can be done using this web tool, particularly with young students.  VoiceThread presentations can provide young children with story retell and summarization practice, as well.
  • A student can create a digital portfolio of their best work and use the voice-over feature to easily explain their learning or thinking regarding various documents or images. 
  • VoiceThread can also be a tool for reflection and peer revision for writing assignments.
  • A teacher interested in flipping the classroom could post presentations and leave voice comments, creating a lecture that students can view from home.  
  • Students can use this tool to create presentations describing math concepts or the individual steps in a process.  For these particular activities, both the audio and annotation tools would be very helpful. Multiple students could share various ways to solve a problem on a single slide.
  • Students can reflect on a text or story using various reading strategies as a lens for their comments.
  • When asking students to create a presentation or project in a collaborative group, VoiceThread is an effective tool to use, because multiple students can edit the presentation from remote locations.  This can be done simultaneously or at different times.  
  • For more tips and ideas on how to use VoiceThread in the classroom or to contribute your own thoughts, visit the wiki VoiceThread 4 Education.
The Challenge

Michele has shared a lot of great ideas of how to use VoiceThread in education. What are your initial thoughts about using VoiceThread in your classroom?

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