My Vision for VoiceThread Part 2

March 23, 2008 at 11:00 am (voicethread)

I can’t believe that in just over a day I have received three comments on this blog topic from people I don’t know, people who are part of the web 2.0 network.  I must admit, this is not something to which I am accustomed.  I feel that this is another instance where I must retrain myself or unlearn things.  Getting unsolicited email usually means it is spam and, as I have learned, there is blog spam, too.  But comments from an interested and engaged audience is part of the benefit of social software, social computing and Web 2.0, of which VoiceThread is yet another example.

When I received my first couple unsolicited comments from someone unrelated to my class it was actually a bit unnerving.  One of my colleagues asked how they found me.  At first I thought it was through a blog search such as Technorati but then I realized that I had linked to them.  It is only natural that you would want to know what someone is saying about you and ensure that it is accurate.  I thought I was being quite conscious of my audience, however, the more comments I receive the more conscious of my audience I become.  I can’t help but feel that my increasing awareness of this “global audience” has left me with a bit of “blog block.”  It’s not like writer’s block where I have nothing to say.  Rather, realizing just how big the potential blog audience is a little scary.

Bill Ferriter suggested http://ed.voicethread.com/share/62276/.  In it’s introduction the teacher gives very detailed and specific instructions of what he wants contributors to do.  On each page of the VoiceThread a different political cartoon related to Darfur is displayed.  The first couple comments are typed and parts of the political cartoon are circled to support the explanation.  Political cartoons are often very challenging for students.  VoiceThread provides visual, audio, social and doodle interaction to differentiate for individual student learning styles and preferences to assist in deconstructing the cartoon.  This way students can use the mode with which they are comfortable and excel and perhaps challenge themselves to try one of the other modes of communication and become more comfortable and fluent using it.  By hearing others thoughts, students can build on what someone else says, which the teacher suggested, or sythesize and build on the ideas of several people.

Colette Cassinelli also let me know about a wiki she has created at http://voicethread4education.wikispaces.com where she is collecting VoiceThread exemplars divided by division.  When I first visited a couple days ago, the wiki had just been created.  Now it contains ideas on each page.   

One of my colleagues emailed me about her plans for VoiceThread, having students create a new verse for Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” including content from the history they study this year.  Students could type or record the audio of their new lyrics that are supported by a literal or figurative/conceptual image interpretations.

Lastly, Tim Fahlberg provided me with a detailed explanation and examples to support the higher level thinking and motivation of students involved in creating Mathcasts. 

I am greatful to everyone who has commented on my blog and contributed to my learning.

I forgot about another idea that I had for VoiceThread.  In September, one of my colleagues and I often take students on virtual fieldtrips of the trips that we take during the summer.  As VoiceThreads, these could be archived for present and future students to revisit, comment or add content to based on their personal experiences having visited or lived in those locations, research they have completed, connections to current events, movies, or reading be it fiction or non-fiction.  In particular, I have images related to Japan (Social 8), the Industrial Revolution in Britain and The Former U.S.S.R. (Social 9) which serve to bring curriculum to life and stir discussions about life and culture in different countries. 

I listened to Teachers Teaching Teachers, from October 31, 2007, on EdTechTalk today.  Joyce Valenza was on along with the co-creators of VoiceThread.  The creators of VoiceThread said that there goal was to remove anything that could get in the way of people doing what they want to do.  They want the technology to empower rather than inhibit sharing different stories spurred by the same image.  They wanted everyone to have the shared joy such as the one in the now classic example of each member of a family sharing their perspective on what led up to the family photo. 

Valenza said that in addition to using VoiceThread for authentic practice for second language learners, they are looking at converting their student art gallery into VoiceThread.  That way artists can make a statement and students, parents, community can contribute to the virtual gallery walk.  This does not have to be limited to student art but can also include other student work. 

As one of the creators commented, VoiceThread is a vehicle for participation.  It removes constraints from collaborating with people from different geographic regions or time zones because it is asynchronous group conversation.  It is not limited to audio annotation.  If this were the only thing that it could do then it wouldn’t be much different than PowerPoint which would allow you to do the same thing.  How is it different from a slideshow or a screencast?  One of the creators said that it is different because it is a slideshow that asks a question.  It provides the opportunity for groups to broadcast as an invitation for participation.  Because people are so accustomed to PowerPoint where they weren’t asked to participate, creators of VoiceThreads must make their intentions clear of how and when and what they want participants to say.  This should be one of the first things that a person hears on the VoiceThread.  Students and their teachers must think about how they want people to contribute, collaborate, and co-create content within the VoiceThread and how they can includes spaces for this. 

VoiceThread demonstrates the power of the group (the network?) to create something that an individual could never create alone.  Like a wiki, VoiceThread is another Web 2.0 tool that validates the social nature of learning.

Another feature of VoiceThread that I hadn’t realized existed is RSS feeds.  Changes to MyVoice can be subscribed through an aggregator.  In the EdTechTalk program someone suggested that this has very interesting potential, particularly as VoiceThread works toward incorporating tagging and the capability to subscribe to individual VoiceThreads.  A student who is researching climate change could subcribe to blogs, wikis, podcasts and VoiceThread.  What a powerful diversity of media and perspectives for inquiry.

What about the bigger picture? 

I can’t help but think back to my own experience taking a face-to-face storytelling class and the oral power of words to bring people together and unite them around common experiences.  If I combine that experience with what I learned about the power of podcasting (see Podcasting Update – One Week Later) and our discussion about the changing nature of literacy to encompass digital, technological, visual, information and global literacies, VoiceThread has the potential to be a very powerful tool.  I don’t just see VoiceThread as a tool for collaboration or co-construction.  I see it as a tool for social action and social change, particularly after visiting the International Day for Sharing Life Stories Blog

Julie Lindsay discusses her vision for global collaboration as guest blogger at Dangerously Irrelevant.  Lindsay ran Learning Circles (see Margaret Riel article in Topic 1) as part of iEARN, and is co-founder of the Flat Classroom Project and the Horizon Project.  With these new projects, she identifies that collaboration has taken on a whole new dimension, which she refers to as Global Collaboaration 3.0, that provides a new focus for online collaborative projects.  Its characteristics include

  • a social network of likeminded people sharing ideas
  • working as a team with others from around the world
  • facing failure due to a non-traditional approach
  • trust and risk-taking and inquiring
  • bringing the world into your classroom
  • embracing differences and making a difference
  • student-centered where students share responsibility, solve problems and become self-reliant

Lindsay goes on to distinguish between Global Collaboration 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0, the last of which

  • teachers are fully engaged and communicate with all participants
  • Web 2.0 tools are used for communication, interaction (networking) and creation
  • classes from around the world work together as one on common objectives
  • high expectations for connectivity and collaboration
  • includes community partners (eg. experts)
  • output (individual or collective) includes input of others
  • multimedia output aims to make a difference locally or globally
  • teacher and/or student initiated, student-centered learning

As with all Web 2.0 tools, the tool can only reach its potential if the teacher using it has a student-centred view of integration of technology where the technology is used to mediate experiences that are liberating and allow the student to explore, discover and construct their own knowledge in a partnership with peers and teachers (Subramaniam, 2007) from near and far. 

Because VoiceThread uses voice, or text that represents that voice, it seems more naturally to come from the heart.  This speaks to the affective or reflective centre that infuses every process of the inquiry model, a voice that is very convincing when inhibitions are over come and vulnerability is evident.  VoiceThread could be a stepping stone towards more extensive social networking and social action.  In either students not only contribute to the global body of knowledge but also assist others in articulating, modifying and/or clarifying their global perspective and mobilizing others to take action. 

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My VoiceThread Vision

March 20, 2008 at 3:43 pm (voicethread)

As I read about the many suggestions for uses of VoiceThread in teaching and learning lightbulbs started going off in my head! 

VoiceThread provides a new dimension to student fieldtrips beyond the capability of Flicker or podcasting.  The ability to collaboarate and engage the community in commenting or contributing content through text, audio or video takes VoiceThread to a whole new level not offered by the other web 2.0 tools. 

yourth_source.jpg
The new Alberta Social Studies curriculum is inquiry based.  A way to get students thinking as historians and historical thinkers is through primary sources. Students could display an image in a VoiceThread, being sure to respect copyright, describe what they see along with their interpretation of it, ask their peers to present their interpretations and invite experts outside the school to contribute as well – either from a local high school, post-secondary institution located in another city or on the other side of the world.  Youth Source: Youth and Heritage Learning Source, pictured above, has great resources on how to read a primary source, oral histories  and others.

Examination of images does not have to be limited to primary sources.  It could be used to analyze the quality of presentation, layout, point of view or bias in print ads or video media or other elements of visual literacy.  VoiceThread could be used as a tool for students to convey their exploration and demonstrate their developing visual literacy.  The VoiceThread could be a digital portfolio of this or any other topic made more powerful by the ability of the learner to “doodle” as they narrate their thinking and others to contribute or comment on the learning.

ecu.jpg

Some of our students have taken some fabulous extreme close up (ECU) or macros images of common objects.  The image could be presented in VoiceThread and others could guess what it is.  The object could be revealed at a set date perhaps also declaring a winner that correctly identified the object.  This could be a way to build excitement and help others learn how to use the tool.  An online gallery of student digital photography could also be created.  One obstacle is the necessity of an account to be able to contribute or comment.  I will have to think more about that one.

Image Citation:
“3D 2x shot of my toothbrush.” syvwich. 2 Nov 2006. 20 Mar 2008 <http://www.flickr.com/photos/jakebouma/109039319/.>

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VoiceThread as Digital Storytelling

March 20, 2008 at 3:43 pm (voicethread)

web 2.0: new tools, new schools, Soloman & Schrum (released Oct 15, 2007 according to Amazon) was the only print resource I have been consulting for this course that made reference to VoiceThread.  This speaks to how new this tool is.  Valenza discovered it in June, 2007 and the education version only became live in January, 2008.  It has not yet been widely explored in print resources.  Yet, digital storytelling has been around for a while in other forms using other tools. 

In web 2.0, David Jakes is quoted describing digital storytelling this way

“The process of digital storytelling provides a voice rich in multimedia that has the potential to resonate deeply with an audience.  As a result, digital storytelling has become one of the most powerful 21st-century learning processes available to teahers and students. 

So, what exacty is a digital story?  A digital story in its truest form is a personal experience represented in narrrative format.  A script, or the essence of the story, is extracted from the narrative and then amplifed by including video, music, still-frame imagery, and the author’s voice.  A digital story typically lasts between two and three minutes.  The inclusion of multimedia makes the story come alive and takes the story to a place that could not be achieved by writing alone. 

The process is rich in learning.  Digital storytelling makes students better writers through the multiple drafts, rewrites, and script preparation [or storyboarding as suggested by Robin, (ppt)] that is required and helps them build essential visual literacy skills through the selection of the imagery required to construct the story. . . .

The final component in the digital storytelling process is sharing the creation. . . . The result demonstrates to students that what they have to say is important and how they say it is critical.  They discover that they can be lifelong contributors to the new global conversation” (p. 43-44).

According to Jakes’ definition, my VoiceThread is not an example of digital storytelling.  While it is short, it does not describe my experiences in Bolivia as a story; I simply provided verbal captions for visual highlights of my stay in the country’s capital city, La Paz.  In my case, the VoiceThread is an online photo album.  I didn’t have multiple drafts of a script as I didn’t have a script! 

If students were to create their own digital stories, I would worry about the amount of time that they could spend trying to find images to represent the essence of their story.  I know from my own experience in finding an old fashioned radio for my blog on podcasting that I spend quite a bit of time searching for the perfect image.  This could be cut down as students could negotiate who will find images to represent different parts of the story so each student need only find one image.  Students could also take photos of the images they would like to include in their digital story VoiceThread.  As Valenza has suggested, we can move students away from supporting images that represent literal interpretations of text to figurative or conceptual images that are symbols or metaphors of text.  Valenza has a wiki page dedicated to Digital Storytelling and Reforming PowerPoint.

An invaluable resource is the Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling website.  It idenfities that there are many definitions of digital storytelling which encompass combining storytelling with a variety of multimedia including images, audio, video and web publishing.  Even though it may primarily be visual, it might also be a first person narrative, that incorporates previously recorded audio, text and interviews (Robin, ppt).  I like how it describes digital stories as a jigsaw puzzle telling invisible histories or stories.  The site identifies and accompanying PowerPoints (ppt) identify ten components of a digital story:

  1. purpose 
  2. point of view
  3. dramatic question(s)
  4. choice of content
  5. clarity of voice
  6. pacing
  7. meaningful soundtrack
  8. quality of images
  9. economy of detail
  10. conventions of grammar and language usage

The power of the soundtrack stood out for me in this list.  In Bolivia I often heard flutes and pan pipes.  An audio track such as this would have enhanced my VoiceThread. 

The Center for Digital Storytelling which includes many examples of digital storytelling, included a link to The International Day for Sharing Life Stories Blog.  I was simply blown away by the power of digital stories and people to share them with the world, even including people in Kenya

At the International Day blog I also learned about Hypercities which “connects geographical information on places with stories of those who live there in the present and in the past.”  I tried to visit the first example created in Berlin (followed by LA, Lima and Rome) but I could not navigate because the page size is set larger than my screen size!  (Time to buy a new monitor I think.)  Hypercities just won an award from Humanities, Arts Science Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC for short, pronounced haystack) Initiative Digital Media and Learning Competition supported by the MacArthur Foundation, of which I have refered to Confronting the Challenges of a Participatory Culture in a previous post.  It is interesting to see all 17 winners who will share a $2M purse.

Lastly, there was a post called “Putting Memory in Place.”  This was the most powerful example of all for me when it said:

“Regimes often sustain themselves through the eradication of memory and its substitution with “official history”. Sustaining community memory, then, becomes a form of resistance.” 

This reminds me of a powerful statement by Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and author of the autobiographical Night, to “bear witness.” 

The Elements of Digital Storytelling goes into even more depth about the nature of this medium should people be interested.  While I may decide to consult it at some point, I don’t feel that I require the detail offered at this time.  

In “Digital Storytelling,” Linda C. Joseph (2006) identifies that iMovie, Moviemaker, Photo Story 3 or BubbleShare can be used to create digital stories.  (This article was part of introductory topic Getting Started & Setting the Scene: Web 2.0 in Schools and Libraries.)  She suggests making a print version (if this is posssible with the media used as video would not allow for this option) and a backup digital file to preseve the digital story.  Alan Levine actually identifies 50 Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story, telling the same Dominoe story in each tool.  Bubbleshare is the first example.  

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Voicethread in Action

March 20, 2008 at 3:42 pm (voicethread)

Silvia Tolisano provided these examples at the langwitches blog:   

Collaborative Projects
In the What Could It Mean? collaborative project, students share their ideas on why a four litre jug is sitting atop a car.  I love this one as students must make inferences from the image and synthesize those with their own personal experiences to predict why the jug is there.   

Math
Math 247 / K-7 Mathcasts 500 Project  The first VoiceCast on this page demonstrates how to put a number into scientific notation.  This example falls under grade 7 in the table on this page in the wiki. 

Initially I wondered if this becomes another way of doing a worksheet.  I stand corrected.  Please see Tim Fahlberg’s detailed explanation of Mathcast in the comments at the end of this post that explain the student thinking and explanation that go into a Mathcast.  Thanks again, Tim, for taking the time to explain Mathcast to me.  Once again, web 2.0 exemplifies the power of the network to teach, explain and exemplify. 

Science
Visit the Galapagos Island has students describe what they learned and enjoyed about their study of the Galapagos.  This Voicecast demonstrates that anyone can contribute – the shy and the not so shy.

Information Responsibility
In Fair Use, a group of four grade seven students describe what it is and why it is important.  They aren’t just learning by doing but also teaching others when sharing. 

Reading and Language Arts
When I searched VoiceThread in del.icio.us, I came across this pageflakes with links to VoiceThreads for different topics and grade levels, collaborative projects as well as voicethreads dedicated to professional development, some of which I have selected to share below.  This one is dedicated to the geography of Canada.  The teachers give a detailed overview of what students do in this project.  I’m always impressed when I find Canadian content.   

The Books Go Global has grade four students from around the world sharing fiction and non-fiction voice thread booktalks via the wiki.  I visited The Diary of the Wimpy kid one as I just saw it on a best seller list from Publisher’s Weekly.  This could segway into a discussion of why books are or are not the same in different countries.  Brenda Dyck, in her article at Education World, pointed me to Great Book Stories wiki, another place to share VoiceThread booktalks with a larger audience.  Unlike Books Go Global, which embedded all the VoiceThreads and takes a very long time to load, Great Book Stories links to the VoiceThreads instead so you only load the ones that you wish to view.  Either of these could be linked to from a virtual library webpage.

Students could explore figurative language such as alliteration, onomatopoeia or the parts of speech.  One of these could serve as exemplar of what to do and what not to do when creating a VoiceThread so that students could brainstorm the assessment criteria, thereby taking ownership of the task. 

Professional Development
What is the Network Mean to You? VoiceThread is a collaborative project based in Regina where contributors share what “network” means to them.  I was pleasantly surprised when one of the contributors introduced themselves as I recognized the name from one of my previous classes!  People from all over have contributed.  This demonstrates the potential of VoiceThread to be a very valuable professional development tool particularly for one-person departments. 

This VoiceThread wiki was created after an EdTechTalk.  It is a place to learn how to create a VoiceThread and contains examples and resources for using VoiceThread in the classroom.  It is where I discovered the blog of Brenda Dyck, sessional instructor at U of A.   

Will Richardson pointed me to a VoiceThread made by Laura D’Elia after she attended the Building Learning Communities Summer Institute.  This is another way that I can hitch a ride to a conference, time-shifting and place-shifting to when and where it convenient for me.  In this one, I was able to see how the text comment feature and the doodle feature in VoiceThread work.  It was also a treat because Joyce Valenza popped in!  Presenters and participants alike contributed and collaborated on Laura’s VoiceThread.   

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Voicethread in Teaching and Learning

March 20, 2008 at 3:42 pm (voicethread)

Benefits of VoiceThread according to Valenza and others:

  • simple and easy
  • focus on the content instead of the tool; can serve as a form of free writing (Ferriter)
  • requires simple hardware and minimal memory requirements (Langhorst); minimal tech-barrier (Ferriter)
  • encourages collaborative storytelling
  • ability to use powerful images – one or many
  • users can zoom in to see detail and out to see big picture (haven’t figure that one out yet)
  • ability to add text
  • easy to capture voices
  • inspires ongoing conversation about each image (Ferriter)
  • build fluency, precision and voice in second language
  • new dimension for creative analysis of historical photographs, maps and artifacts
  • ability to give and receive feedback from peers, teachers [formative and summative assessment], parents and other relatives, local and global community (Fryer)
  • effective tutorials (although I didn’t find them or the website design as intuitive as some of the other web 2.0 tool tutorials)
  • can be used “as a storytelling tool, a deep thinking tool, a research tool, an expository communication tool, and even an asessment tool” (Dyck)
  • allows for differentiation to accomodate different learning needs and styles, another option for struggling or reluctant writers (Dyck)
  • allows the teachers to seamlessly integrate digital collaboration into the currciulum (Ferriter)
  • provides another opportunity to discuss copyright

In addition, at the Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling website, it identifies that digital storytelling, of which a VoiceThread can be a tool in creation:

  • capitalizes on creative talents
  • motivates digital generation
  • can suit many purposes: informative, quesitoning, historical, autobiographical, etc.

At the langwitches blog, Silvia Tolisano also adds that creating a storybook through Voicethread shows that

  • they are a learning community
  • learning is a lifelong process as teachers learn to use the VoiceThread tool
  • collaboration can take place across ages and grades

Valenza describes the power of VoiceThread like this:

“A single photograph, capturing a single moment, can represent multiple stories.  This site collects and invites participation in the telling.” 

Uses in Teaching and Learning as suggested by Valenza and others:

  • create or select images to accompany original poetry, poetic devices or research
  • record personal, family or community history, historic events or an oral history project (Langhorst); documentaries or essays (Robin (ppt))
  • create an photo album of your school (web2telegraph) or library narrated by students
  • share oral reports about research through digital story (Fryer)
  • opportunity for students to develop interview skills
    • interview techniques
    • build confidence with peers
    • asking open ended questions
    • providing interviewee time to elaborate
    • follow up questions (Langhorst)
  • develop editing skills – eliminate errors and pauses
  • collaborate with a school in another location (Fryer
  • illustrated booktalks
  • Ferriter suggests students record thoughts while previewing (doc) or draft comments from four different suggestion types (doc)
  • Joseph (2006) provides some other suggestions, based on the Olympus Envision Your World website, including a photo gallery to tell the story of municipal, provincial, national story (like America 24/7) or exploring science material to demonstrate their use in labs, innovation and space exploration (such as Marvels of Invention).

At the Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling it also identifies these possibilities for Digital Storytelling that revolve around a particular theme or viewpoint:

1. Personal Narratives

  • help students organize ideas as they learn to create stories for an audience (my emphasis, connects to Focus on Inquiry (pdf) and Revised Blooms Taxonomy)
  • create digital stories based on multicultural folktales
  • hold a digital storytelling festival (Robin & Pierson, ppt)

2. Examination of Historical Themes and Events that move beyond an encyclopedia entry

  • help students conduct research
  • synthesize large amounts of content
  • gain expertise in using digital communications and authoring tools

3. Stories that Inform or Instruct  

  • introduce new material
  • use as an anticipatory set or hook for a lesson
  • enhance current lessons
  • make difficult content more accessible

To Consider . . .

  • “Vision before application” (Robin & Pierson, ppt), meaningful vs. superficial storytelling (Robin, ppt)
  • Ask for signed consent from person interviewed to be able to share
  • Getting VoiceThread unblocked (Fryer)
  • Assessment – a rubric suggestion is provided at the Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling website

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Voicethread?

March 20, 2008 at 3:41 pm (voicethread)

Voicethread was one of the Web 2.0 tool that I had never heard of or even knew existed before this course.  I chose to explore it, rather than Jumpcut, as my computer at home is being taxed to its limit, similar to some at school.  I can only watch videos in five second chunks and even some of the Voicethreads that I listen to are the same.  However, when I watched/listened to the Introduction to Voicethread on the website all went well so I thought there was hope for me in using it both at home and at school. 

I first came across the word “voicethread” in Valenza’s Manifesto as well as in the PowerPoints that she links to in her informationfluency wiki at the beginning of this course.  Valenza defines it as “a web-based, multimedia collaborative network.”  Bill Ferriter, at his blog “The Tempered Radical” calls it a group audio blog.  At the http://www.voicethread.com/ website, it describes it as

“an online media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in five different ways – using voice (with a microphone or a telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam) – and share them with anyone they wish.  A VoiceThread allows group conversation to be collected and shared in one place, from anywhere in the world.”

The avatar (the visual chosen by a user to represent them online) of each person that has commented or contributed to a discussion is visible around the image or video on each page of the voice thread.

At her blog, Valenza said that there is a “teeny-tiny learning curve” which sounded almost too good to be true.  It took me longer than what I would have suspected based on what she said.  If I had a faster computer it probably would have been true. 

I took the headset that I had bought, to replace the one I borrowed and returned, to school so that a parent volunteer could use it to record exams using Audacity for students who require this accomodation.  As a result, when I sat down to do this, I had no audio recording device.  I popped over to Walmart and bought a $10 desktop one, the cheapest one I could find, as a test of sound quality.  I don’t think it is too bad.  The other headset I bought on sale for $30 (regular $50) is better when there is background noise as it filters it out better than this desktop one.  I need to remember not to be any closer than a couple inches away from the desktop one otherwise it picks up the exhalation.  I also need to remember to maintain a consistent volume.  I tend to start softer and get louder as I speak.  In considering the listening audience, if they can’t hear to begin with, they probably won’t be interested to listen. 

From start to finish, it took me an hour and half to sort out how to do this.  I watched the One Minute VoiceThread, as well as setting up the microphone, although I already knew how to do that.  I liked that the Voicethread tutorials are short so I can watch them over and over again.  There is also a VoiceThread dedicated to the WordPress plugin.  I wasn’t very optimistic that I would get this to work as WordPress does not allow flash.  I couldn’t get the plugin unzipped and when I searched plugin in WordPress, it said that it doesn’t allow any.  The focus of this week’s blog was creating a Voicethread which I have done.  I can simply link to it from my blog since I am unable to embed it.  I like how the VoiceThread appears as if it is a pop up of your own site, an extension of your space.  To me it doesn’t feel like a different website like it does if you are listening to a podcast which has been uploaded to a remote site.  This is most likely the case for me because of the presentation style that I chose for my blog that is quite similar to the VoiceThread interface.  

I have been wanting to change my blog’s Flickr photo stream to some of my South American photos, however, when I tried the RSS feed from a particular album rather than the whole pool of photos that I have on Flickr, the image links did not work.  So, I reverted to how it was.  Voicethread allows me to share those photos and have a commentary which is much easier than typing titles and descriptions for everything.  Even better is others can type or record their reactions in audio or video to the photo.  I assume that they would need to have an account which would be problematic for some of my friends or family who do not wish to sign up for one. 

Because uploading with Flickr, YouTube and podcast hosting sites was fairly quick, I wasn’t expecting VoiceThread uploading to be so slow.  I followed the recommendation to clear the cache and open a new Internet Explorer browser and rather than trying to upload 12 photos, which I thought was conservative, I did one at a time.  This went much smoother.  I didn’t find an option to rotate images, and don’t do this on my computer as it destabilizes the photos, so I could only use landscape photos.  I assume that there is a rotationg feature, or at least there should be, but I didn’t find it…yet. 

Unfortunately, you can only create three voicethreads on a free account.  Ed.VoiceThread, which only went live on January 28, 2008, is another option.  On their website they identify that it

“is a space for creating digital stories, documentaries, practicing language skills, exploring geography and culture, solving math problems, collaborating with other students, or simply finding and honing student voices.” 

It is only for k-12 educators, students and administrators.  Unlike VoiceThread, all must be registered users and there is a cost associated with it, the reason being then schools won’t block it because more safety is built in.  To learn more visit Valenza’s blog post, “Ed.VoiceThread: We Can All Play.”

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