Friday, January 18, 2008

Using Voicethread with Students

VoiceThread is a web 2.0 tool that I heard about this summer but recently became reacquainted with due to a collaborative project that Lisa Parisi is organizing. (See my post on Collaborative Project in the Making.) The VoiceThread site offers this description: A VoiceThread is an online media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in 5 different ways - using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam) - and share them with anyone they wish. A VoiceThread allows group conversations to be collected and shared in one place, from anywhere in the world. The Tablet PC Education blog highlights one 6th grade teacher who is using this tool with his class.

In preparation for the Collaborative Book Talk Project that my class will participate in, I posted a VoiceThread on my class blog and worked with students to respond via voice recording. I registered a VoiceThread account for all of the students to use. The students use my email address and a generic class password to access the VoiceThread account. They create their own identity within the account. I instructed the students to either use their initials for their identity name or a pseudonym. We had some troubles with avatars and learned that VoiceThread requires .jpg images as opposed to .gif or .png. We use the Portrait Illustration Maker site to create the students’ avatars. The students thoroughly enjoyed the process of making their own avatar and not only uploaded them to VoiceThread but also uploaded them to their blog pages.

Once the avatars were uploaded and the identities were made, then we moved onto recording the audio comments. We used small button computer microphones much like you can find at any discount department store for around seven dollars. We had some issues with our new Vista computers and getting the microphones to be recognized. Once that was fixed, the recording went well. One student tried to stop recording in the middle and start it again. However, VoiceThread makes different comments each time you start and stop. I had to emphasize to the students to say everything they wanted to say before stopping the recording. It was funny to see how the students became somewhat nervous and intimidated by speaking into that little microphone. Even though they could easily delete the recording and start over, they were apprehensive. I think it will take doing this a few more times before they will become comfortable with it.

The topic of the VoiceThread and their comments is on setting goals. Feel free to leave a comment yourself on the VoiceThread. The kids would love to know that someone is listening to them. You have to have your own VoiceThread account to leave a comment but registration on the site is free. By the way, as an educator you can have an enhanced VoiceThread account free by contacting VoiceThread. Once registered, just click on “Go Pro” and then click on K12 educators click here.

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Blogger Laura Deisley said...


Sounds like you're off to a great start with Voicethread. One thing you can consider is setting up a classroom account in gmail and using it as the required email for the Voicethread. Also, I've set up another gmail account and password for our "school family" in the event they want to make comments but don't want to bother with registration. I've given them a password as well, and asked only that they identify themselves when they make their comment.

If you're interested in looking at another project, I'd be happy to share what our 7th graders did this past November.


January 18, 2008 at 1:12 PM  
Blogger Julia Osteen said...

I'd love for you to post a link to the project you referenced.

Thanks for your comments.


January 18, 2008 at 10:31 PM  
Anonymous Mathew said...

Excellent article. Consider submitting to digital storytelling blog carnival:

January 27, 2008 at 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Colette Cassinelli said...

I am collecting examples of how educators are using Voicethread in their classroom or for professional development on a wiki at:

My plan is to share these examples with other technology teachers who provide professional development in their schools.

Feel free to add your own examples or links to resources. Thanks in advance,
Colette Cassinelli

Saw your blog post on Classroom 2.0

March 9, 2008 at 3:49 AM  

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