Tagged: voicethread

VoiceThread Mobile is out!

I end my 6 months hiatus with a great news: VoiceThread Mobile is out! I just installed it on my iPhone and iPad and it works wonderfully. Will experiment with some students in school soon. One slight disappointment is I wasn’t able to doodle. Did I miss anything?

Update: Doodling works 🙂

And Steve Jobs, without you all these couldn’t have happened. We will miss you.

Oral practice using VoiceThread

Lesson Idea Synopsis
This lesson aims to engage students in self-directed and collaborative learning using free audio recording and authoring Web 2.0 tools such as VoiceThread (http://www.voicethread.com). One of the main learning outcomes is to improve students’ oracy skills through blended learning in face-to-face and virtual environment. This lesson also offers ICT-based assessment.
Instructional Objectives
1. Students are able to read and record their oral passages fluently, accurately and clearly.

2. Students are able to listen and evaluate their personal audio recordings.

3. Students are able to do small group voice recording.

4. Students are able to evaluate audio recordings of their peers.

How was the lesson carried out? (Please include level, ICT equipment & resources needed, pedagogy or strategies used, thinking skills taught, if any, duration of lesson, etc)
The targeted students were primary 6 students in a Mother Tongue (Chinese) class. The learning space is a computer lab with 45 desktop computers and headsets with microphone. The whole lesson is inquiry and problem driven – we call it the S.P.A.C.E concept. Total duration of the lesson is about 3 hours (6 periods).
At the very beginning of the lesson, I tuned in with a scenario (S) “My friend did very poorly in oral exam. He is very depressed and need some help”. After a lively discussion with the class, I shared an assessment rubric with the class and posed a problem (P) “How can we help him to improve his oral performance based on this rubric?” After the students brainstormed for ideas, I guided them to ask (A) questions like “How can this method improve his oral?” and “How do we know this method works for him?”. After this discussion, the class came to consensus that we can create ‘VoiceThread Tutorial’ to help our friend.

Next, I assigned a short passage to the students and instruct them to do voice recording in VoiceThread while reading aloud. Since the students have been given hands-on training on the basic use of VoiceThread (http://www.voicethread.com) prior to this lesson, they immediately started audio recording. While the students recorded their reading, I listened to their works and based on the assessment rubric, I picked 1 good, 1 average and 1 poor work for verbal peer evaluation.

The next hour was to get my students to get into small groups of 4 to 6. They will collaboratively (C) record an audio story of an excerpt from a text passage using VoiceThread. This process involved role-playing of different characters and everyone in the group had some lines to say. While the students recorded their reading, I listened to their works and based on the assessment rubric, I picked 1 good, 1 average and 1 poor work for verbal peer evaluation.

After the students completed their audio recording in VoiceThread, I will let the class listen to the 6 selected audio recordings by peers. Each group will evaluate (E) the recordings based on the assessment rubric. At the end of the peer evaluation process, each group shared their scores and explained the rationale of the scores based on the rubric. After this evaluation process, my students and I have a common understanding of the qualities of a good reading aloud.

During the last hour of the lesson, each group got to produce their final version of ‘VoiceThread Tutorial’ which must include audio recordings of both assigned materials. Based on the results of the peer evaluation, each group fine-tuned their reading aloud of passage and role-playing text excerpt by paying extra attention to pronunciation and expression. At the end of the lesson, all groups managed to create their very own ‘VoiceThread Tutorial’ to help their friend improve his oral.

How did ICT value-add to the learning process? How did the use of ICT change the learning and teaching process?
The typical learning process of oracy skills is to engage students to learn and apply the language in daily conversations. While the traditional classroom setting can provide teachers and students interaction, ICT has greatly enhanced the asynchronous nature of learning a language. This lesson has empowered students to create audio tutorials which can be accessed anywhere and anytime. Most importantly, students learn from their peers more effectively with the affordances of Web 2.0 tools.

Web 2.0 tools like VoiceThread has extended students’ opportunities of mastering the language orally by providing them a self-directed and collaborative virtual environment to learn and share. I used to conduct mock oral examinations to listen to my students one at a time. With the affordance of web technologies, I am able to hear my students’ reading aloud even after school. This has greatly increased the effectiveness of evaluating students’ performance and designing lessons to help students who have poor oracy skills. The ‘VoiceThread Tutorials’ produced by students are also great teaching resources!

What were the outcomes? (Benefits to pupils or teachers, re-designing of pedagogy, development of staff, etc)
Based on results of feedback by students, most students enjoyed using VoiceThread to practise reading aloud passages. All students are more motivated to read aloud with VoiceThread compared to the typical classroom reading aloud sessions. Students became more self-directed to improve their oracy skills when they are able to evaluate their own reading and learn from their peers. Using voice recording tool like VoiceThread has empowered shy students to speak up and form personal learning networks with their peers in a virtual space. Some students did audio recording of the textbook passages on their own accord. They also shared their recordings and asked for feedback within their network of friends. For myself, using VoiceThread for oracy training has given me a great alternative assessment tool which is ICT-based and asynchronous.
How did you assess student’s learning using ICT? (Examples of work produced, etc)
Throughout the S.P.A.C.E pedagogy, I constantly assessed students’ learning using VoiceThread for oracy practice. I am able to hear each and every pupil’s reading aloud in the platform and constantly provide feedback for weaker students. This is almost impossible in a traditional classroom environment where only a few more vocal students can be heard. In VoiceThread, I can provide timely feedback in the form of voice or text comments. This informal assessment mode has greatly improve the interaction between myself and my students. In S.P.A.C.E, I am also able to facilitate peer evaluation and this has added an extra dimension to my assessment of pupils’ learning.
What went well during the ICT lesson? What would you do differently next time?
This ICT lesson went pretty smoothly mainly because the students are motivated to create something from their voices. As compared to a typical oracy training session which does not promote the ‘create’ domain in Blooms Taxonomy, using VoiceThread for oracy practice does that beautifully.

I would definitely like to let my students have more autonomy in digital story telling with VoiceThread in the future. I would probably redesign the lesson to allow more room for creativity and facilitate holistic learning of Mother Tongue language beyond preparation for the oral examination.

Will you be conducting this lesson again? If so, when will it be? (E.g., Term 3 in 2010; on-going, etc)
Yes. In fact I have been exploring the recent features in VoiceThread that allows students to make continuous voice recording while they make transitions from one media to another. I will probably re-craft a similar but simpler lesson for a primary 3 class in the 2011 Semester 2.
Which aspect(s) of Self-Directed Learning (SDL) does this lesson highlight? How would the students display the SDL competencies?
SDL Construct:
• Ownership of Learning

SDL Indicator:
• Student sets learning targets for himself/herself.

SDL Activity:
• Students got to apply their oracy skills on digital story telling in VoiceThread. Every student’s audio recording is application of refinement in oracy techniques like articulation, pronunciation, expression and accuracy. Using VoiceThread for voice recording also provides intrinsic motivation for students to improve their oracy skills when they anticipate peer audience and teacher’s immediate feedback.

Which aspect(s) of Collaborative Learning (CoL) does this lesson highlight? How would the students display the CoL competencies?
CoL Construct:
• Effective Group Processes

CoL Indicator:
• When a student works in a group, he/she shares ideas with his/her group members. Everyone agrees on what everyone must do. He/she uses computing tools to work with his/her group members to complete a project.

CoL Activity:
• Students worked in small group and role-played different characters in text excerpt reading aloud session. The VoiceThread platform enables students within the group to contribute and students from other groups to learn and critique.

VoiceThread: Improved support for Asian scripts

Just wanted to let you know that we just released a Beta version of our new Asian language support update to VoiceThread. Currently it only works within the text comment field but we’ll add support elsewhere soon. Please let us know your experience.



Great news from VoiceThread! I just tried and it works! That means I can get my students to type comments in Chinese characters 🙂

Voicethread: Feature updates

Received some updates from the great people from Voicethread:

Hello VoiceThreaders,

We’ve got a number of delightful feature updates to share with you.

Put VoiceThread In Your Pocket

Take your VoiceThread and put it into iTunes or your pocket for on-the-go viewing and presenting. Whenever you export, you now have the choice to either download a full sized high resolution archival movie version or one that has been formatted to go directly onto your iPod or iPhone, or both. 🙂

Clone Your Threads

We’ve had a lot of requests for the ability to make a copy of an existing VoiceThread so that it can be reused for a fresh new audience or just to make a backup copy. Beginning today, you have that ability right on your MyVoice page (from the gear menu). Clicking ‘Make a Copy’ opens up a menu for you to title, describe, and choose the comments you’d like to include in the new version. Now you can spend the time and energy creating the highest quality VoiceThreads to be used again and again, and again.

Support For More File Formats

We now fully support Microsoft Office 2007 file formats when uploading into your VoiceThreads. Microsoft Photo Story 3 video support coming soon.

Security Update

Beginning January 1, 2009 we will no longer allow multiple simultaneous logins to the same account. While this may have been a convenient feature it was also a potential security risk. After January 1, 2009 whenever you log in to VoiceThread on a new computer, we will automatically log you out of any computers that you were previously logged into.

Submit To The VoiceThread Digital Library

VoiceThread is creating a digital library of outstanding examples of teaching VoiceThreads and we need our community of educators to help us build this resource. The intention is not just to ‘favorite’ or ‘tag’ great examples but to explore and document how they were created and what was learned. We hope the end result will be a series of detailed articles that other educators can utilize to help guide their work, so please give us as much information as possible. We hope to open the Library in January, so submit them whenever you can and spread word of the project to others. As a token of thanks we’ll be giving $20 worth of archival exports to all of the submitters whose work is published in the Library. Follow this link to make your submissions.


We’ve made quite a few interface tweaks as well, all in an effort to make VoiceThread and its features easier to use and understand. We appreciate all the feedback we’ve received, it definitely helps direct our development as we look to further improve VoiceThread. So thank you and keep it coming! We’ve got more on the way (VoiceThread.com).

Voicethread Chinese character support goes live!


We are pleased to announce that we’ve added support for more languages when text
commenting, one of our most requested features. Text commenting now supports the Latin,
Cyrillic, Arabic and Hebrew scripts. We’ll be also adding support for Asian languages soon.
Please keep the great feedback coming in and enjoy!


Thanks for the great news, Habib! Now I can get my pupils to text comment in Chinese in Voicethread. Can’t wait! 😀

VoiceThreads: Extending the Classroom with Interactive Multimedia Albums

From Edutopia:

Bill Ferriter knew his sixth-grade language arts and social studies students spent time online outside of class, surfing the Web and instant messaging. So when he discovered he could engage his kids online in a collaborative, multimedia slide show called a VoiceThread, he decided to see if he could use it to, as he puts it, “steal some of their online minutes.”

The answer was a resounding yes,” says the teacher at Salem Middle School, in Salem, North Carolina.

Voicethread featured in Edutopia. Great review of the wonderful tool.

Part 2 of Adventures with Voicethread

I finally got my Primary 6 pupils to record a Voicethread! It was the same oral practice the other time but this time without my voice. Most pupils were shy and reluctant to try, probably they were not comfortable hearing their own voices (In fact I am not that comfortable too!).

“At last, not Mr Kwan’s voice!”

After much coaxing and assurance, I managed to get 4 pupils, 3 boys and 1 girl to record their picture descriptions. As a matter of fact, I had given the class the picture and instructed everyone to write a script over the weekend. Hence everyone should come prepared. Although the pupils still stumbled here and there, they did pretty well as novices. I am proud of them.

Maybe I should briefly introduce the gadgets I am using. I am using the Asus Eee PC 701 (I hope I can do an educator’s review on this baby soon) and a Logitech Premium Stereo Headset. I did the recording in the classroom, with some effort in keeping the class quiet. I would say the quality of recording is decent.

And the adventure continues…

I am still in the process of planning my next Voicethread project. I might continue to beef up this oral practice idea or go on with another, for example a learning journey I thought of previously.

I am also considering making digital storytelling a project-based assignment for my Primary 5 class. Hopefully they will be more motivated to learn and speak mandarin with this cool tool.

Perhaps another ambitious project could be a collaboration between my school’s partner school in China, Bibo Experimental Primary School in Suzhou on the topic of Beijing Olympics! How exciting!

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.