It may be a little controversial to diss a darling of the educational technology world but I think Voicethread is so 2007. Sure, I have used Voicethread many times with students of various grade levels. And, I used to
think it was so cool. You probably remember when you were first introduced to
it. It probably went down like this. A colleague said, “I’ve got the coolest
site to show you.” During the demo you said, “Wow, it’s like a digital slide show
that you can add comments to.” The rest is history.


This scenario is exactly what happened to me. Soon I was knee deep in a project with fourth graders. I was happily using Voicethread and I even wrote about it here: http://budurl.com/lam5.
Back then you could use the Gmail trick to create student accounts which was
quite handy. This work-around has since been squashed by Voicethread. After
numerous projects, it seemed like every attempt had glitches such as the audio
recorder not working. After a few successful projects and others that went down
in flames, I had to really wonder why I was using this site and what benefits
the students were reaping.


The first realization was the myth of asynchronous collaboration. For example, a student would create a Voicethread and then other students would comment. Although the kids thought it is cool, it didn’t really advance
learning. I remember thinking, “Now, why did I have the students do that?” If I
was seeking a way for students to collaborate, even asynchronously, this didn’t
seem like the venue. For one thing, the creator rarely adds more comments than
the original. No conversation takes place…no opportunity to say, “You’re right,
I have changed my point of view.”


My next pet peeve is that comments are linear. When you play a Voicethread, the comments play one after another. This is not a huge problem…I just don’t like it. With digital projects, I prefer a more open ended result
where content can be explored in any order.


I would still be using Voicethread and just dealing with the parts I don’t like but so many other sites are available today. When you combine these sites, you can come up with some very powerful solutions that
take your lessons to the top of Bloom’s.  


One of my favorite combinations is creating digital collages with Vuvox.com. I like to have students create audio, both narration and background music in Aviary.com and import it to Vuvox. Then, I embed the whole
thing in a Twiddla.com digital whiteboard. Students can experience the digital
collage and then post sticky note comments. The student who created the project
can post their own comments on the board in response to their classmates notes.


Don’t hate me for not liking Voicethread…I just think there are many better options that are…so 2010.


Mark


 




 


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Tags: voicethread, web2.0

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With VT it is possible to set up a class account. When you add the students to the class list, they all get their own VY email addresses with which to log in. However, it is a linear tool as you suggest and I live the idea of using Twiddla with other uses to get that conversation going. In fact, I'm going to test to see if it will work with my tablet in Second Life which would be a wonderful way to provide in-world online instruction in math! Thanks.
Hi Mark,

I agree with many of your points, but I still think Voice Thread is cool. I use it to deliver lectures in my online courses, and I encourage students to add comments or questions right on the slide where their questions come up. Sometimes I throw in a question for them to answer, mostly to make sure they are actually paying attention. As you point out, it doesn't work well for students to interact with each other, but I think it's a decent way to get them to interact with the lesson content.

Thanks for showing us your way-cool 2010 resources!

Becky
Hi Becky,

You said,
I use it to deliver lectures in my online courses, and I encourage students to add comments or questions right on the slide where their questions come up.

Now, that's an excellent use of VT!

Mark
I'd heard of Voicethread, but I hadn't tried it until just now. I viewed a few slideshows including Michelle Pacanasky-Brock's "VoiceThread for Online Teaching and Learning" and the "Classroom 2.0" slideshow which contained a map and people replied with comments stating where they were from. Through all of this I learned a few things to make voicethread a success:

First and foremost: Do not allow lengthy responses! There should be a 30 second limit or something. What I found myself doing was sitting at my computer listening to the 20 or so comments utterly bored with people TRYING desperately to decide what they wanted to say and I just waited patiently til they finished, but oftentimes I just had to stop the playback. I seriously didn't want to hear their voicethread because they were stalling, and figuring out what words they wanted to use -- and I'm sitting here trying to be patient wondering when the comments are going to come to a close. Really. I'm thinking "are you seriously going to waste my time with this when you don't even know what you have to say?!" Even some of the presenters were sometimes pausing, and those parts were just not enjoyable to listen to.

With reading the benefit is that you can at least skip the parts that are not pertinent to what you want to know -- you can't do that with audio.

Given that, I think a couple more suggestions to the commenters/students are appropriate: 2. state the two or three points you'll be talking about, perhaps even write it up before recording a comment, 3. then using concise language, record a pithy response. Don't waste people's time. Write down what you're going to say before you record the comment. I noticed the easiest ones to listen to were the ones where you could tell the commenters were reading from a written response. It was much more effective than the impromptu comments with long pauses, and careless use of words (I heard A LOT of "ummmmmmmss," and "uhs.").

In conclusion, I think the application has it's issues, but within parameters it can be a useful tool for teachers. Overall, I like the tool -- it definitely has viable options in the classroom.
I teach 6th grade Science, and I use Voicethread for creating lectures. When a student is absent, he/she can listen and see the lecture just as if they had been in class, and I don't have to re-teach it. I also use it for interactive lessons that my younger Title VII kids (after school tutoring) can practice phonics, math skills, etc. I have also used it for Practical Exams for my CSI class. It has its uses, and I agree, there are more "2010" things out there and still coming. Photo Story, Museum Box, Glogs

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