It may be a little controversial to diss a darling of the educational technology world but I think Voicethread is so 2007. Sure, I have used
Voicethread many times with students of various grade levels. And, I used to
think it was so cool. You probably remember when you were first introduced to
it. It probably went down like this. A colleague said, “I’ve got the coolest
site to show you.” During the demo you said, “Wow, it’s like a digital slide show
that you can add comments to.” The rest is history.
This scenario is exactly what happened to me. Soon I was knee deep in a project with fourth graders. I was happily using Voicethread and
I even wrote about it here: http://budurl.com/lam5.
Back then you could use the Gmail trick to create student accounts which was
quite handy. This work-around has since been squashed by Voicethread. After
numerous projects, it seemed like every attempt had glitches such as the audio
recorder not working. After a few successful projects and others that went down
in flames, I had to really wonder why I was using this site and what benefits
the students were reaping.
The first realization was the myth of asynchronous collaboration. For example, a student would create a Voicethread and then other students would
comment. Although the kids thought it is cool, it didn’t really advance
learning. I remember thinking, “Now, why did I have the students do that?” If I
was seeking a way for students to collaborate, even asynchronously, this didn’t
seem like the venue. For one thing, the creator rarely adds more comments than
the original. No conversation takes place…no opportunity to say, “You’re right,
I have changed my point of view.”
My next pet peeve is that comments are linear. When you play a Voicethread, the comments play one after another. This is not a huge problem…I
just don’t like it. With digital projects, I prefer a more open ended result
where content can be explored in any order.
I would still be using Voicethread and just dealing with the parts I don’t like but so many other sites are available today. When you
combine these sites, you can come up with some very powerful solutions that
take your lessons to the top of Bloom’s.
One of my favorite combinations is creating digital collages with Vuvox.com. I like to have students create audio, both narration and
background music in Aviary.com and import it to Vuvox. Then, I embed the whole
thing in a Twiddla.com digital whiteboard. Students can experience the digital
collage and then post sticky note comments. The student who created the project
can post their own comments on the board in response to their classmates notes.
Don’t hate me for not liking Voicethread…I just think there are many better options that are…so 2010.
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