Resource Number 5

URL http://voicethread.com Keywords languages, audio, language production, writing asynchronous communication

VoiceThread
Category II Voice Discussion Tools Rationale

VoiceThread provides a tool where users can add audio messages (with images or video) in to a conversation or to describe a single topic. Its potential for education is being utilized particularly within languages to make use of the innate and incessant desire of human beings to interact. VoiceThread has two distinct advantages for classrooms that are communicating and collaborating across time and space: 1. It is asynchronous: There is no need to be connected at the same time while adding comments or files. 2. It is engaging and motivating: While digital communication between user through email and discussion boards is based on plane written text, VoiceThread appeals to user in many audiovisual aspects, and in addition, hearing the speakers voice turns the digital communication more personal. This desire to connect provides a unique opportunity for educators to prepare their lessons or present their own ideas and projects. Matching students´ motivation and growing fluency with IT communication tools with required elements of the curriculum represents the first step into space of digital mastery. Description VoiceThread is basically a Web-based media album that allows users to share impressions, opinions or notions through text messages, audio files, images or videos. It enables visitors to make comments on their stories in five different ways:  voice with a microphone  voice with telephone  text  audio file  video with a webcam. Practically, VoiceThread is similar to a text based forum except users leave an audio message instead of a text message and can include their profile image as well. The application allows group conversations to be collected and shared in one place, and accessed from anywhere in the world or they can be kept private for selected individuals. Resources required To ensure a smooth and high quality voice transmission only a basic functional Internet connection is needed. VoiceThread is user-friendly and very simple and can be handled by even less technically skilled users helping overcome communication anxiety related to the online environment and allowing concentration on the learning process. Obligatory resources  Desktop computer or laptop  Reliable and stable Internet connection (preferably broadband)  Microphone for recording audio Optional resources  Built-in or external web camera 1
The project Autonomous “Personal Learning Networks” for Language Teachers has been funded with support from the European Commission. This document reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Cost Partially  Basic use requires free registration.  VoiceThread has realized the potential for the tool in education and have created paid for options for educators that increase the functionality for schools and classes. The prices start at $60/year or $10/month (single educator) or $1.00 per student per year (school subscription). Setup and Configuration There is no need for downloading any software, installs or updates. The application runs inside the web browser and makes possible to transform storage of media into a place for a conversation. Conversations are not live but can be held whenever it is convenient for each side of the communication. Website registration is required to save your work. The application has created a throughout guide for teachers to get started with the programme called Educator's Getting Started Guide. It is an introduction to using VoiceThread written by an educator with educators in mind. Styling  It is possible to upload a personal media from the PC (Powerpoints, images, documents, movie files, PDFs or Excel spreadsheets) or to explore the contents of the existing database accessible in the Media Sources area. The orientation is reasonably easy and the application is manageable enough. All the sections are clearly labelled and organised. It is possible to create a VoiceThread directly from the home page.

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Navigation and operation Navigation and operation are clear. Once you have signed in, at the top of the page there can be seen three basic tabs: Browse, Create, and MyVoice.  Browse: By clicking on Browse you can go through all the VoiceThreads ever created that their creators have decided to place in "Browse." You will also have the choice to place yours VoiceThreads in this section or exclude it for more privacy.  Create: By clicking on Create you can start composing your own VoiceThread. After you are done the newly created VoiceThread will appear in the MyVoice tab.  MyVoice: After accessing this tab you will view thumbnails of all your VoiceThreads. The unread comments are signalized by a small yellow quote bubble icon. It is possible to embed a VoiceThread in three different places: 1. In MyVoice can be selected a VoiceThread to be embedded. Click the gear menu icon on your VoiceThread and select Edit. The Embed button appears at the bottom of the screen. 2. While viewing a VoiceThread, click the gear menu icon in the top left corner and select Embed. 3. Select Embed from the final share slide. After getting the embed code, it is necessary to copy it and place it in the website or blog you wish.

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The project Autonomous “Personal Learning Networks” for Language Teachers has been funded with support from the European Commission. This document reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Implementation methodology To create a new VoiceThread there are several basic steps: 1. Signing in and clicking on Create: it is essential to think of an engaging topic which will promote conversation and discussion between students 2. Uploading of images or video from a user's PC, the web or a weblink: images should relate to the topic and act as incentive to start a conversation 3. Script out opening comments (it is advisable to keep them short) for each image that will contain a question for participants to consider. Scripting comments prior to recording allow organizing the process as well as images in a logical order. 4. Recording of the initial comment using the microphone. 5. Saving and sharing of the voicethread publicly or privately (embedding and email sharing are an option) A further example for educators in particular is called, Where are you? This voicethread has received 2,235 comments from educators globally. Teaching/Learning ideas:  classroom discussions around a topic that will promote conversation and debate between students  presentations about books the students read  professional development training  storytelling based activities with additional multimedia content  virtual class spaces  task-based learning  practising writing skills, sentence composition, vocabulary and spelling as a peripheral competence  foreign language learning through reciprocal peer communication See website examples, includes general education and specifically for languages. Example of implementation Type of lesson: Teacher training session Lesson Title: Using VoiceThread for presenting an EU language project (aPLaNet) Number of participants involved: 7 Duration: 45 min    Introduction: Go to the home page, log in and create a new VoiceThread placing video or picture according to what you would like to present. Lead-in: All participants sign up for free accounts at VoiceThread using valid email addresses. Then they are added as contacts and invited to the VoiceThreads that you make. Lesson flow: Participants are assessed a task to perform. In this case, each participant prepares a short introduction of the project in question for the audience in their home country. They can refer to the video used in the centre and comment on it freely. Their voices are recorded via microphone and their pictures are taken through the built-in webcam. Participants can comment by microphone and text an unlimited number of times. Conclusion: The VoiceThread is enriched by participants´ comments in target languages of the project. The outcome is stored in the page and can be disseminated through the link. Follow-up: If required, participants can evaluate using verbal and visual cues. In disciplines where students create a portfolio of their work, VoiceThread provides the opportunity to create annotated presentations that contain voice, video, and text explanations of what has been done. The final outcomes can be embedded in a classroom blog (e.g. Blogger, Wordpress) as well.

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The project Autonomous “Personal Learning Networks” for Language Teachers has been funded with support from the European Commission. This document reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

aPLaNet discussion Other issues The application might require a rethinking of traditional approaches to assessment as well as spur the conversation by fairly interesting media. Explaining students the basic principles of operating VoiceThread before starting using it may be taken into account as it takes some time to familiarize with the programme. As with all open tools where users can add content, moderation should be considered. Useful tips Social networking communities for VoiceThread:  VoiceThread - Classroom 2.0  Digitally Speaking / VoiceThread – wiki .

This Factsheet is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 2.0 License. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

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The project Autonomous “Personal Learning Networks” for Language Teachers has been funded with support from the European Commission. This document reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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