I’ve been messing with VoiceThread quite a bit lately and thought it would be a good time to post something about it. An article in the March/April 2011 edition of Teaching Exceptional Children through CEC provides several practical ways to integrate it into a classroom setting, so I recommend you have a look at it as well.
Basically VoiceThread is another one of those web 2.0 technologies. By definition, web 2.0 technologies allow for a 2 way flow of communication. In other words, instead of a typical web page that provides information, web 2.0 sites also allow the page visitor to add their own ideas. I suppose this could be a positive or negative thing.
The benefit of VoiceThread is that it creates an interactive discussion board. You may have taken place in a discussion board in an online class before. These are typically dominated by text and the occasional attachment. VoiceThread is different however. You start by uploading documents, images, videos, powerpoints or other media in your voicethread account. This information is then posted online and you can provide a link to “collaborators” who you want to participate in your thread. How collaborators participate in your thread is another nice feature. Instead of just adding text, they can draw, type, add video, or record audio to the thread. This creates a highly interactive environment.
There are an unlimited number of ways this can be used in the classroom, but in general any teacher can upload some images, videos and documents on voicethread and invite students to interact. Students can have their own account, or the teacher can create multiple identities so that students do not have to create an account (great for students who may not have email). From a Universal Design for Learning perspective, this increases engagement, supports multiple learning styles and offers numerous instructional supports (record your thoughts instead of typing them for example). VoiceThread is also a great way to have students continue working on projects outside of the classroom. There’s nothing to install and all that is required is a computer and internet connection.
For more information, check out www.voicethread.com. They have how to videos and one-pagers dealing with a variety of topics and uses.