Saturday, April 16, 2011

Voicethread: Easy collaboration

What is Voicethread?

     Voicethread allows users to upload content in various forms (documents, presentations, videos, etc) and to have others comment  in one of several ways: text, audio, video, by phone. The uploaded media appears as a slideshow and users can comment on each slide. After comments are recorded, they can be played back in the order they were made, creating a "voicethread".

Why use Voicethread? 

     Voicethread is a great public space for students to present their work and to collaboratively discuss it. When used effectively, students can engage in meaningful discussions and get constructive feedback from others. Having multiple ways to comment caters to different learning styles and makes for an interesting playback. I believe that students are more motivated to produce quality work when they know that it will be shared with their peers. 

How do I create and manage my account? 

     Although there is a free version of Voicethread, I would recommend getting an Educator account so that you can manage privacy settings and allow students to collaborate as a group. We purchased a teacher account which allows for 100 users and costs $50 per year. There are three types of users; administrator, teacher and student. You can add students and assign them to groups using the administrator account and students can create their own visible profiles (using pre-assigned images or adding their own).

Is it worth getting? 

     Voicethread is worth the money if teachers are looking for an innovative way to get students sharing their work and discussing it. The presentations are visually appealing and the site is easy to navigate. I have found, however, that the site eats up a lot of bandwidth and can be very slow when many students are using at the same time with an insufficient internet speed. If you are in a school with older computers or slow internet, you many find that using this site can be frustrating.