VoiceThread is a subscription based software in which you can build an asynchronistic discussion (through video, audio or text-based comments) around an image or set of images. Imagine a slide presentation that allows your students to add comments around each slide. It is an easy and accessible interface for students to record their thoughts (offering video, audio or text formats for their use). It allows for responses from others to be embedded into a specific comment, so asynchronous conversations may be built not only through individual posts around the central media (and in response to a teacher’s prompt), but also along specific comment trajectories.
Many students like the conversation potential of VoiceThread. Students also say that they like video comments from their professors and they feel like they understand the teacher’s feedback better when it is video recorded rather than written. Some teachers find it useful to record/build a VoiceThread “presentation” that they can reuse in multiple courses.
OVERVIEW Saralaeh Fordyce:
VoiceThread allows users to easily create slide decks with video, audio, text, and pen comments. Students can respond with any of the comment formats. We like it because it is easy to use, is easy to share, and has multiple pedagogical applications. In a recent meeting, four faculty members shared distinct ways they are using VoiceThread in their practice.
- One teacher noticed that she had a set of tips she shared every semester on basic things like article annotation and time management. Some students benefitted greatly from these tips, while others were not interested or already had their own preferred methods. Rather than use valuable class time on these skills, she made some basic slides with video and audio comments that she then posted on the class site as an optional resource.
- CCA Librarian Danial Ransom built a voicethread about citation and plagiarism, “Embodied Scholarship”, for a Freshman critical thinking course.
NOTE: Sometimes using VoiceThread in this way runs the risk of using it as a glorified slide presentation that students watch passively. The most successful reuses of a voicethread is to make a copy of the voicethread for each new course (erasing the students’ comments from the previous use), and make sure to make the voicethread interactive: include moments that ask the students to comment and engage with the material and build a conversation around the topic.
- Another teacher noticed that students needed practice preparing for in-class presentations. Each student created a practice presentation and submitted it. The teacher was then able to easily leave comments on that presentation. The students benefitted immensely from reviewing their own presentation and making adjustments to it before actually presenting it in front of the class.
- A creative writing teacher found that typing comments into multiple long documents, especially when comments had to do with general trends in the piece, was becoming grueling. Rather than use dictation software, she loaded students’ papers into VoiceThread and made both video and audio comments, much in the same way that she would in a face to face meeting. Students could then respond with their own video, audio, text, or pen comments. In VoiceThread, sharing/editing access can be set to specific parties, to enable private conversations.
- One teacher had all the students load the VoiceThread app onto their phones before going to a museum together as a class. Once there, the students were asked to find an object or piece of art and upload a picture of it to a class voicethread. Then they were asked to make a comment from the perspective of that object. Next, they were asked to respond to and have a conversation with another object/piece of art and do so from the perspective of their chosen object. The result was a series of lively conversations about art, museum curation and the “life of things.”
For an example of how VoiceThread might be used for a collaborative project take a look at “#rhizo14 Autoethnography Challenges and Joys of Unwriting this Untext #et4rhizo” which is a collective meta-reflection on a project that produced “Writing the Unreadable Untext.” You may find the article about that project here at Hybrid Pedagogy.
We recommend the journal Hybrid Pedagogy: a digital journal of learning, teaching, and technology as a go-to source for deeply considered and classroom tested innovative pedagogies that use digital tools. To further explore digital tools for use in the classroom or for your own digital humanities projects take a look at this list of digital research tools.
If you do use and adapt this assignment or if you have an assignment that you’d like to share please let us know about your work in the comment section. Thank you.