As part of my role as Information Learning Technologist Specialist Practitioner I have been developing some case studies on how staff currently use technology in their teaching practice. The case studies serve to highlight the good practice that exists within the college as well as to inspire and introduce different technology tools. They examine the affordances certain tools have in terms of supporting teaching and learning: the benefits, difficulties and issues that exist when trying different tools and methods. the first one is based on a colleagues experience of using Voicethread with her learners:
A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that can show images, documents, and videos. It allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in different ways; using voice (with a mic or telephone), writing text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). It allows group conversations to be collected and shared in one place from anywhere in the world.
Context in Classroom
Dr Val Jessop has been using VoiceThread with her students in a variety of ways. Val asked students from her B.A (Hons) English Language and Literature Studies course to debate utopian and dystopian views on e-literacies as part of their Language, Identity and Representation module. Val started the debate with a typed explanation of what the terms mean and additional questions as prompts for students to add their own views. Students engaged with the tool and process and were able to add their views simultaneously; the synchronous approach enabled students to explore the tool with guidance and demonstrated a different way to exchange ideas. There were students absent who were able to sign in and see what discussion had taken place and also contribute their own views so a good tool for inclusivity.
Some students found the usability of the tool challenging and became frustrated that they were not able to get the tool to work for them, however they were able to see the views of others being exchanged. The students felt this was a fundamental flaw of technology, particularly VoiceThread, in fact the use of the tool became part of their active debate! Their feedback raises the issue of how we integrate the use of different technology tools in teaching and learning and that our lesson design and course design to some extent needs to have the infrastructure in place to teach students how to use the technology itself. The students were exposed to an interesting method of debate and in a sense the ‘medium is the message’ in that some students’ dystopian views of technology were confirmed by their experience of using it. However, with reflection students saw the benefit of having collaboratively constructed a resource and could see the potential for revision later on.
The students used the typing function rather than recording their voices mainly because they were in one room, however confidence in recording ones own voice can also be a barrier. However when this element was discussed with students they did feel that ‘tone of voice’ and being able to emphasise points could be communicated more successfully in this way. Val intends to develop her use of Voice Thread by using it to create resources; uploading a poem that gets deconstructed over a series of explanations.
Voicethread is a tool that gives students choice and ownership over how they interact and contribute to a resource. The integration of audio and or video with online instruction ‘promotes higher levels of student engagement and may lead to increased student satisfaction and enhanced learning experiences.’(Revere and Kovach 201, p.120). Many technology tools align well with good pedagogy, Voicethread can be used as reflective tool for the individual or used collaboratively and ‘provides an easy way for students to listen to and add to the work of their peers [which] may encourage more authentic peer assessment.’ (Educause 2009).
- It can be embedded onto your Moodle pages
- Can be used synchronously/asynchronously
- Learners have a choice over how they record their comments
- No software to install.
- Threads can be exported to MP3 players or DVDs to play as archival movies.
- Quick to create a resource that can be used and developed
Try it out:
Educause (2009), 7 Things You Should Know About VoiceThread, Education Learning Initiative http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/7-things-you-should-know-about-voicethread, last accessed 23 October 2012
Revere, L, Kovach. J V. (2011) ‘ Online Technologies for Engaged Learning A Meaningful Synthesis for Educators Online’ Technologies for Engaged Learning The Quarterly Review of Distance Education Vol. 12, No. 2, 2011