Process of learning about the tool
VoiceThread was another tool that I had heard about, signed up for and then forgot about until recently. I finally decided to explore the idea of using VoiceThread with my grade 1/2 class to see how it might work for my kindergartens to connect with other kindergartens across the district. Creating the Voicethread was simple and engaging for both me and my students. I decided to focus on the 7 Habits, which is a school wide focus. I had already signed up for an educators account, so I logged in and clicked on create. Like Animoto, they make the steps clear and simple. The first step was to upload images from your computer, other media sources: Flickr, Facebook, The New York Public Library, or VoiceThread itself, from a URL, or from a webcam. I uploaded an image for each of the 7 Habits from Google Images. I was then able to add a title, and a link if I chose. Once all of my images were uploaded, I clicked on step 2: Comment. I had already been provided with an icon that represented me (a little house), however, it used my first name. As I was planning to use this with my students, I uploaded an image and titled it Mrs. Davies. Using the ‘Identities’ feature, I gave my students all their own icons. There is a limited selection of icons, so I had three of each. With older students, I probably would have let them upload their own images to use as icons. The next step was to let the students comment on the 7 Habit images. My grade one/two class sits in 6 groups. I gave each group one habit and asked them to think about how they used that habit at school. After some brainstorming and group discussion, each student had an idea about their habit and was ready to add a comment. Comments can be added through telephone, webcam, microphone, typing text, or uploading an audio file. I had a microphone on my teacher computer and groups came up one at a time, and each student recorded their comments. The comment is played back, and students loved hearing the sound of their own voice. If they were satisfied, I saved it, or I was able to cancel it. At any time, comments can be deleted and redone. Once we were finished, I clicked on the third button, Share. This gives you the opportunity to get a link or to invite people by email. Voicethreads can be private, and only viewable by people we have given the link to or invite, or you can choose to make them public. Even when you make it public, VoiceThread offers options: for people to view, or to view and have moderated comments, or to view and comment openly. Our class has decided to invite our buddy class to comment. My students are excited to see what their buddy class says about the 7 Habits and about their comments! I am ready to try it with my kindergarten and a class across the city. However, VoiceThread is not limited by distance or time zones. I wonder if I can find a kindergarten somewhere across the world who would like to connect with us? As a Leader in Me School, I think I could find another school who would like to comment on the 7 Habits. Maybe one in Singapore….
Personal use of the tool
VoiceThread could be used for families or individuals to create albums of trips with commentary. I have been meaning to create a family history album for some time (OK, for the last 15 years 🙂 ). Lately, I have been thinking of creating a memory album of my aging parents for my infant nieces and nephews, allowing them the opportunity to share their memories and thoughts with each other across time. What better way than a Voicethread? I plan on scanning in images from my parents’ past, and having them comment or tell their stories about the images.
Professional Use of the Tool
The power of VoiceThread is the ability to create conversations around images. I have already described one way I have used it in my classroom, and there are many more. As a professional learning tool, you could upload images relating to a problem or an idea for your school, and invite staff to comment on it. It could be a virtual staff meeting, with anytime, anywhere (with internet) access, and a record of the conversation. Joyce Valenza posted an article about a Voicethread book study on ‘Readicide’. Trying to get staff together to talk about professional literature is difficult. A Voicethread offers staff a quality book study experience on their time, as opposed to trying to set up a meeting. The possibilities with students are endless. Here is a great presentation of 20 ways to use Voicethread with students from K-12 . As well, check out this wiki for VoiceThread ideas, samples and tutorials. I love how they have pages for using VoiceThread as a PLN, in the library, for Special Ed, and more!