VoiceThread allows its users to create collaborative, multimedia slide shows designed for interaction. After an author creates a VoiceThread and shares it with a prescribed audience or to the world audience/viewers can participate in the presentation. Viewers can create/leave comments on the authored work in text, voice (recorded or by phone), and by drawing. Voice Thread states there are 5 ways to interact: using voice (with a mic or phone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). VoiceThreads are made for sharing with friends, students, and colleagues.
According to information displayed on its website, VoiceThread received a 2008 Webware 100 award from Webware, a CNET site. The Web 2.0 user community cast nearly two million votes in an online voting poll that ultimately selected the winners. Finalists for the 2008 Webware 100 Awards were selected by the editors of Webware.
The intended goal of this learning object is to offer a group communication system through online voice sharing and optional video. The communication set-up supports K-12, Higher Education, Business, and Professionals.
Target Student Population:
K-12 educators, student teachers, higher education faculty, college students, families, businesses, professionals, and anyone who is associated with a group
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
A computer (Mac or PC), internet access, and some basic reading and following direction skills.
Type of Material:
This is an online Web 2.0 collaborative tool. The free account has no limits on participation and no one will ever need to pay anything to view and comment on a VoiceThread. A Free account does have some limitations on VoiceThread creation, but you can easily upgrade to a VoiceThread Pro account with unlimited creation and advanced features for less than $5 a month. Options for upgrading include: Pro, Business, Higher Ed, or K-12.
VoiceThread can be used by K-12 educators, student teachers, higher education faculty, college students, families, businesses, professionals, and anyone who is associated with a group and needs a systematic way to discuss, share, and collect comments on a given topic. Its uses are certainly cross-curricular and it can be integrated into any subject or particular setting with these needs.
Internet access. Microphone or telephone and webcam for use with video. The application accepts image types: JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG, doc types: PPT, PPS, PDF, DOC, XLS and varying video formats. VoiceThreads can zoom in and out on images and documents for detail. It is recommended images be at least 1280x960 (which a 2mp or higher camera can produce).
Evaluation and Observation
The content for creating and conducting Voicethread discussions online is clear, systematic, and organized. The Library of Uses offers examples from higher education and K-12 that demonstrate the range of approaches that have been taken. There are options available for making the voice threads public or shared with many or none. These features support a wide range of educational and instructional endeavors.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The combination of combining actual images or video clips along with a threaded discussion supports differentiated instruction. Because of this, users can develop very specific learning objectives for their teaching situations. The support of different learning styles readily encourages integration and/or cross-curricular connections and allows for a variety of ways for the specific lessons to be addressed. The Digital Library has a database of articles about successful VoiceThread projects. These examples provide ideas for use and assignments. There is also a VoiceThread Blog that shares current educational technology information for users, such as the 2009 Horizon Report, how to embed voicethreads in Moodle, how to copy VoiceThreads to iPods, and more. VoiceThread has also launched Ed.VoiceThread for designed specifically for K-12 educators.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The VoiceThread site is intuitive in its systematic and organizational design. The three main tabs at the top (Browse, Create, and MyVoice) make the site very easy to navigate. There are several support systems for the user including a frequently asked questions section, an online forum, tutorials, and a manual that can be downloaded. There are direct links for help and troubleshooting that are also well organized. And you can also contact VoiceThread with queries.
Other Issues and Comments:
This is not an issue, but a comment. Users should be aware of copyright use and protocols when uploading images and videos. Instructors and educators should model appropriate uses of materials for their groups.