Thursday, February 13, 2014

Voicethread in the Classroom

In our last post, we talked about Google Voice as a tool that can help teachers record themselves and share that with their students as well as have students read texts, record them and share with the teacher. This is a powerful tool that allows the teacher and student to share audio files with each other. However, there are a few drawbacks:
1. It is only an audio file
2. It is only visible to the individual student and the teacher, but not easily visible to other students for the sake of collaboration. 

Voicethread is a more powerful tool that can do so much more.

What is a voicethread?

Just as we all are familiar with an email thread, where emails go back and forth, 
a voicethread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos. It allows people to navigate slides and leave comments. (
The teacher can share a video or audio clip with the class and have the students respond with only the teacher seeing the student's response. Alternatively, you can have students create a voicethread and then have other students respond to each other.
Who has access to your voicethread?
Anyone you want! You can share it with students, colleagues or make it public to the world.
How can you regulate privacy and access?

The teacher decides everything. You can decide if the thread is public of shared, you can decide what permissions the students have (to view or also to edit), and you can make groups to make it easier to share threads with each other.

Is it mobile?

YES! You can use Voicethread with an iPad, iPod touch and an iPhone. It even has a Chrome extension to make it easier to work on a Chromebook.

What are the technical requirements?

All you need is a device with internet, a microphone and webcam.

What are the top reasons to use Voicethread?

1. Flexible – can be used in any subject area
2. Cost effective - free account is very good
3. Allows students to work at their own pace and can see how other students read or work to solve a problem. 
4. Motivates student engagement and is motivating for all types of learners - the students who normally are too shy to speak now can do so without feeling someone is over their shoulder.
5. It is fun for students

What are the steps to create a voicethread?
1. Upload – from My Computer, media, your webcam, url from any picture online, or upload 
an audio file. This is the fie you want to start the conversation with.
     2. Comment – by phone, webcam, recording with microphone, type, upload audio file.
3. Publishing options – controls who can access
a. Allow anyone to view
b. Allow anyone to comment
c. Moderate the comments - if you want to view the comments of an individual student before making that comment viewable to all the other students.
d. Show on browse page - this makes it public
e. Share the thread through creating contacts, groups or simply get
            the link and then email it to your students or post it on Haiku.


1. Voicethread - A Valuable Classroom Collaboration Tool - *** this has all the links you could want for different ideas of using Voicethread in the classroom.

5. Resources from a recent Voicethread email:
In 2011, educators Stein Brunvand and Sara Byrd published a paper titled "Using VoiceThread to Promote Learning Engagement and Success for All Students". This study demonstrates howVoiceThread not only promotes practice of a variety of skills, but also plays a major factor in motivation levels for different types of students. By introducing VoiceThread to their instruction, they were able to reach students with learning disabilities, emotional or behavioral challenges, and low test scores.
Take a look at the Publications page to find even more research done in this area.
More recently, Damien Herlihy and Zeke Pottage from Swinburne University in Australia undertook an experiment using VoiceThread in formative assessment of students who were learning English. Their research showed that VoiceThread provided educators with the ability to give continuous feedback as students practiced their speaking skills and the opportunity to witness their students’ progress over time. The resulting paper, titled “Formative assessment in a Web 2.0 environment: Impact on motivation and outcomes”, won the ELICOS 2012 Award for Action Research.
Watch a presentation of their research.
Now that you have an idea of how VoiceThread can quantifiably enhance differentiated learning, take a look at the VoiceThread Digital Library for even more inspiration. There are some great examples of how innovative teachers are using VoiceThread in their classrooms to reach and assess learning goals.  If you’ve got an example you’d like to share, submit it here!

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