Using Voicethread for Collaborative Thought. . .

One of my favorite Web 2.0 tool is Voicethread, billed as a ‘group audio blog’ by its creators. Voicethread allows users to upload a collection of images about any topic, and then to engage in an ongoing conversation about each image. Multiple comments—both audio and text—can be attached to every picture in a presentation, promoting digital dialogue in an interesting and engaging way.

Check out this Voicethread presentation that is being created by a group of "seriously motivated students living in Cyberspace":

What I like the best about Voicethread is that it allows teachers to seamlessly integrate digital collaboration into the curriculum. Because the skills necessary to use Voicethread are minimal, there is almost no tech-barrier to overcome by teachers or students—and because the tool is simple by nature, the focus of any digital effort remains on the content rather than the technology. 

I was so impressed by the potential that Voicethread holds that I plan to use it in a digital partnership that I’m starting between my students and classes abroad. Here are a few handouts I plan to use to help my kids interact with Voicethread presentations in a meaningful way.  Maybe you’ll find them helpful:

Download Handout_Voicethread_Previewing.doc

Download Handout_Voicethread_Commenting.doc

A big thank you to the Voicethread folks for creating a digital tool that has great potential for instruction—and for keeping it free for educators!

 

11 comments

  1. Alexa

    Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge. I am excited about ding a project with voicethread but I have some doubts about it. I am an english teacher from Colombia, Ithink this is a powerful tool to have my students interacting with a foreign class.If I wnat them making small groups to share their selfbiography projects, how can I monitor what they do? It is afree tool but does it have a restricted number of presentations to share? I would like thank you if you can help me solving my doubths. thanks alot

  2. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Carolyn,
    Purchasing the upgrade to ED VT is completely up to you. At our school, we’ve chosen to do that simply because it gives our administration a lot more comfort and security.
    Ed VT users get regular summaries of the updates being made to their threads. Also Ed VT users can create individual usernames and passwords for every kid in their class, making it possible to track individual posts to individual students. Finally, Ed VT users can only comment on threads being created by other Ed VT users.
    All of those features address the common worries that administrators have about kids working online. While I don’t share the same worries—I think kids need to learn to work and to protect themselves in open spaces—if it helps administrators to feel more comfortable, then it’s worthwhile.
    Does this make sense?
    Bill

  3. Carolyn Rankin

    Thank you so much, Bill, for sharing your VT experiences. I’m about to jump in and wonder if I need to purchase the upgrade VT??

  4. Jeff Rickert

    Bill, Thanks so much for letting us learn from you. I am excited to try out VoiceThread and the students will surely love it! I am using your material and comments for my own class. Thanks again.

  5. Bill Ferriter

    Glad you liked the article, Sarah…and glad that your kids are using Voicethread! It’s truly a remarkable tool.
    Any tips for first time users that you can share here? After all, jumping into new tools is oftentimes the hardest step to take—and you’ve already done it!
    Bill

  6. Sarah Ritter

    Hi Bill, Nice article on you in Edutopia (my favorite magazine)! Because of you and your students at the MEGA meeting in March, my students have begun recording their Japanese folktales on voicethread. One group will be presenting theirs at the Showcase May 7th. Your priorities are wonderful and the EOGs are not what creates a love of learning in our students. Thank you for all you do.

  7. dayle timmons

    Bill, tried your voice thread idea this week on my blog which is all about teaching kindergarten in a high performing school. I had 5th graders talk about their memories of their kindergarten Pow Wow and how that earlier learning spiraled into their latest 5th grade project on Native Americans. http://timmonstimes.blogspot.com/Thanks for giving me such a simple tool. I’ll be using it again! dayle

  8. Ben

    Hi Bill,
    Thanks so much for the kind words.
    Please keep us posted on the project featuring your students collaborating with students abroad, sounds fantastic! If we can do anything to help, just let us know.
    Thanks again,
    Ben
    voicethread.com