If you’ve been keeping your ear to the ground in the world of education technology, you’ve likely heard of VoiceThread. It’s a widely-known tool that’s used in everything from online graduate courses to kindergarten classrooms. At UP we’ve added VoiceThread to our toolbox, so now you, too, can discover what VoiceThread is all about.
The way it works is simple. VoiceThread allows you to add images, videos, audio files, documents or any other type of media to a “slideshow” that everyone in a class can talk about. Literally. With their voice. You just look at something, press a button, and speak. That’s it.
Give feedback to your students on assignments. Ask students to comment on an image or essay. Better yet, ask them to do an assignment in VoiceThread (yes, it’s in Moodle). There are many possibilities! Here are just a few to explore:
- Create a flipped classroom lecture for students to watch before class. You can start with a PowerPoint and add comments to elaborate on key points using your voice. Students can even respond with questions or add ideas of their own to spark additional discussion in class.
- Instead of a traditional text-based discussion forum, use a piece of media as a starting point for conversation. This could be a webcam recording of you delivering a prompt or a piece of media for students to respond to with video or audio comments.
- Have students create their own VoiceThreads from essays, slide presentations, or images. You can then respond and give feedback using your voice.
Because VoiceThread is so versatile, it’s often used by enterprising faculty in unique and surprising ways. It provides a more intimate way to respond to deeply introspective student work for Theology Lecturer Rebecca Gaudino. “There’s a simplicity and immediacy to VoiceThread that I really appreciate”, says Dr. Gaudino. “Students upload a file for me, and I can respond via audio or video, a response that seems fitting for these sorts of reflections. I’ve even had students respond to my comments.”
Commons Administrator and German Instructor Jeffrey White uses VoiceThread to extend the back-and-forth, guided practice needed for language learning. “I love it because VoiceThread allows for students to practice speaking and interacting in German. I can also interact with them.” He also sees an opportunity for scaffolding as students begin forming ideas and making connections through talk and collaboration, adding that VoiceThread “allows for a lower stakes thinking aloud that can be a precursor to developing ideas in a written form.”
For Dr. Pat Thompson, IAL program coordinator, it’s a way to overcome the barriers that distance, time, and busy schedules create. Because VoiceThread can be used for asynchronous interaction, it doesn’t require everyone to interact at a specific time. And it easily conveys the personal inflection so often missing from text-based communication. “The personalization of VoiceThread is perhaps the best feature,” Dr. Thompson says, “because our feedback ‘comes alive’ with video or audio and promotes an authentic exchange with students that sometimes is difficult to accomplish due to time or distance constraints.”
If you would like to learn more about using VoiceThread at UP, please contact Ben Kahn, Academic Technology Specialist & Trainer at the University.