Thursday, March 6, 2008

Learning about VoiceThread

“A VoiceThread is an online media album that allows a group of people to make comments on images, videos, and documents, really simply. You can participate 5 different ways - using your voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam). It's easy to control who can access and comment on a VoiceThread, which makes it a secure place to talk about almost anything: business and academic presentations, travelogues, family history, art critiques, language study, tutorials, book clubs and digital storytelling. A VoiceThread allows an entire group conversation to be collected from anywhere in the world and then shared in one simple place”. (Received from VoiceThread in an email, after I registered for an account).

VoiceThread offers an audio/photo tutorial on how to use VoiceThread, made on VoiceThread, where you will find the multiple audio voices describing amusing points of view in the Muth family photo (shown above).
The phone commenting feature allows you to leave comments and navigate through VoiceThread from your phone if you don’t have a microphone. VoiceThread's Video Doodling feature allows you to control the playback of a video as you comment using a microphone or webcam; giving you the power to voice comment over specific portions of video. It allows you to move to a specific segment, doodle while you're there, then move to highlight another segment, all while leaving your comment. See it in action! I found I didn’t need a separate microphone as my laptop’s built in microphone worked well.

VoiceThreads in the Classroom offers a step by step guide to setting up a free educator account.

On the Voicethread blog, there is an audio overview of Ed.VoiceThread, specifically designed for K-12 educators and students. Note this is different from and educator account with VoiceThreads. Ed.VoiceThread provides a secure collaborative network for K-12 classrooms that is restricted to K-12 students, educators and administrators where content may be visible to everyone, but only students, educators and people specifically invited by educators can comment on the content. Students can work autonomously from home or school and can create their own VoiceThreads and portfolios, inviting others within the secure network to comment. As students can only add and invite others that are already within the system “all users are known users”. Every class or school is given its own URL.

But this kind of privacy is not free. The base school rate for Ed.VoiceThreads is $50/month or $600/year allowing up to 60 GB of bandwidth. There is a one time start up fee of $200. A Pioneer Class subscription rate is now available for the first 1000 applicants. Pioneer subscriptions are available for $10 for one month, or $60 to subscribe an entire class for the school year and allows an educator to offer every student his or her own account. If a school subscribes to the network within the first year, VoiceThread will refund the $60 paid by an educator who started a Pioneer Class. So hurry and get your subscription if you are interested in introducing your school to VoiceThread as a tool. Visit Ed.VoiceThread for more details and answers to FAQ’s.

Joyce Valenza in the School Library Journal blog, NeverEndingSearch, says

“I've been a huge fan of VoiceThread since I discovered it late last spring. In fact, every teacher I've shown it to falls for it instantly. We love its teeny-tiny learning curve and its huge potential for communicating and sharing stories, artifacts, art, etc.”

Alan Levine is also a fan of VoiceThread, calling it Easy PeasyRich Media in his blog.

In VoiceThreads, Flash and the Problems with GPO’s Susan Sedro, a tech coordinator in an international school in Singapore identifies some of the challenges of working with Voicethreads from within a school, including the changes required in proxy server settings and the installation of Firefox along with the Adobe Flash Plug-in.

Have a look at the videos in the video bar of this blog for an introduction and sample VoiceThread, directions for embedding a VoiceThread, and more instructions in a slideshow.


Susan said...


Do you have a generic permission slip you are using to get parent permission for student participation in Voicethread? I'd love to see it if you do.

elizabeth said...

Susan, I dont, as I am just beginning to explore how I might use VoiceThread in the classroom. However, we are looking at developing a permission form in our school that would be used at the beginning of the year to cover permission to use all web 2.0 tools.

Linda Morgan said...

Liked the reference to the teeny tiny learning curve...right on! And isn't it refreshing to know that Valenza just heard about voicethreads last spring! (Hopefully the "last" spring referred to was in the not-too-distant past!) It makes you more at ease when you realize amazing trail blazers like Valenza once stood where you stand now...