Adventures with Voicethread

Voicethread is a interesting tool I discovered from fellow edubloggers late last year. I have been playing around with it since then, but yet to produce anything constructive for classroom teaching.

Last month, I created my first decent Voicethread by putting up some photos of my cruise trip and adding some short narrations (in mandarin). I decided to embed it in my classroom blog and show it to my class. The response was lukewarm probably because the photos and narrations did not really interest them.

My next attempt was a creation of ‘The Match Girl’. I inserted relevant pictures of the story and recorded some personal reflections. I showed it to my pupils and they seemed to like it this time round. However I discovered that was because they felt I sounded funny (it was supposed to be sad!).

My third attempt was ‘What is learning?’ , which was inspired by a passage I taught. Once again, my pupils’ response was lukewarm, probably because they wanted themselves to be heard instead! (In fact that is what Voicethread is for!)

Hence the first pitfall – as much as I want my pupils to record narrations and comments, most of them do not have headsets, microphones or webcams at home. The school has some, however most pupils know very little on proper usage of these equipment, which will mean extra time and effort need to be spent on training the children on fundamentals of voice recording.

Moreover, the microphones in school have poor noise cancelling features, hence in a lab setting, it’s almost impossible to do audible voice recording when everyone starts to speak! It’s a pity my school does not have one of those good old listening comprehension labs I used to have in my primary school days.

The next pitfall – Voicethread is unable to accept Chinese characters in text comments. I wish the team will resolve this issue soon so that pupils can drop text comments in Chinese. I am sure Chinese language teachers will rejoice when that happens.

My next Voicethread project is to use it as a tool for oral skills training, which is essentially practice for the picture conversation section in the oral examinations. I will insert pictures and record some good examples of picture description narrated by pupils themselves. I will then embed it in my classroom blog and use it to teach in class.

Future plans also include Learning Journey Voicethreads (The whole school population just had one!). Future of Voicethread certainly looks very promising.

I hope my adventures with Voicethread will get more exciting in the future!

A couple of excellent links: Voicethread 4 Education wiki and Voicethread examples.

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