VoiceThread: A different way to engage your students

This week I choose to describe a product called VoiceThread. It’s difficult to summarize exactly what VoiceThread is because it is a tool that can be used in many ways. Primarily it is a way to easily incorporate voice and video commenting onto digital media. But really the whole is different from the sum of its parts here in my opinion. Before I start to describe some ways that VoiceThread might be used, let me give you an example.  Visit this VoiceThread that I made. You can choose to comment as well by creating your own free account. You can provide new comments. But any direct relies to me (or to my dummy me) can only be seen by me with the free version. Threaded comments (i.e. direct replies to posts) are a feature of a paid subscription to the service.



So in the example you can see how I’ve presented some media (primarily a PP slide and some images) along with either a video or audio comment giving some information.  I also have a dummy student account that I used to post some comments so you can see how this feature is used.

What’s interesting to me is that I think that this product could be used in many different ways both in online courses and within traditional courses.  Here are a few possibilities:

  1. Narrate over your PP slides: VT imports PP slides one at a time so you can narrate over one slide. Then if you need to change something in the future you can change just one piece of the lecture rather than the whole thing.  I’d recommend making a MASTER copy of the lecture and then creating copies for each time a course is delivered.  Additionally as students are watching and listening to your slides, they can insert questions and comments which everyone can then see and reply back to.
  2. Conduct a video analysis: You can import video files and then narrate and manipulate the video (Like a play back when you watch sports). This could be useful for film students, analyzing speeches, or for coaches and athletes.
  3. Use as an alternative to a traditional text-based discussion forum: A prompt could be written on a PP side or other media could be presented to be the topic of discussion.  Users can then post their threads and rely to others. The whole discussion can then be played back and listened to.
  4. Engage in a debate: Similar to a discussion forum, have students have a debate back and forth replying to one another’s positions and assertions.
  5. Evaluate a visual image: Analyze a photograph, painting, etc. Use the markup features to highlight the elements being discussed.
  6. Receive feedback on a speech and visual aids: Have speech students create a first draft of their speech, record it through VT and then have peers provide feedback.

There is a free version of VT which is a public option. However, there are also subscription services to this product that provide some more privacy and integration within a schools LMS. Until we decide if Morningside might use VT extensively, I encourage you, if you are comfortable in doing so to play around with this product and see how you might use this in your course.