Seriously, why has no one told me about this tool before!?!?! That is one thing that I have been discovering in my eLearning for educators class: there are so many great tools out there being developed to help us instructors to get our students engaged in the content of our courses. Thus far in the course I have been introduced to Google Presentations and Diigo, but as far as design and usability goes, Voice Thread takes the cake.
Voice Thread is an online application which allows instructors to create multimedia-based forums. The instructor (or leader of the group) will place a presentation or image in the middle of the forum and members of the forum can comment on it using a multitude of modalities (text, video, audio). It all allows the user to interact with the object as well as respond naturally to others in the room. The design of the application seems so natural that it is a surprise that someone didn’t come up with it sooner. I am always bemoaning how the Angel discussion forum that I typically use is so far away from what a real learning environment feels like, but Voice Thread is intuitive and responsive, practically inviting me to participate with it.
The first Voice Thread that we did as a class was one that Sam prepared about Millenials — the current of generation that is going through school. It was nice to have a presentation that had good information as well as some interesting comments from the instructor. Even though I was one of the first ones from the class to go through the presentation, I found myself wanting to make comments on each of the slides — and that’s just it — I had the ability to do so. I was no longer bound to the conversation mode of the face-to-face classroom where I must do all of this in real-time, or the often static world of online presentations where no comments can be given — I was given the happy medium: A presentation that allows me to watch in my own time as well as comment with a whole lot of context.
You can check out Sam’s presentation and my comment at the end here:
While I think this is a great tool. I am still in debate about whether or not it is a tool that would be effective with my students. I have a group of students that love making videos — they love getting their hands dirty with the software. However, in discussions, my students often don’t want to engage with the material. I find that in online discussion forums that I use, students will do the bare minimum in terms of commenting. I am afraid that the same thing would happen here — I would get occasional text based responses, but not the audio or video based responses.
I never know though. Maybe Voice Thread could be the tool that bridges the gap between the content of our course and the “digital native” lifestyle that most of my students enjoy.