A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents and videos and allows people to navigate pages and leave comments in 5 ways - using voice, text, audio file, or video (Voice thread , 2009).
The stories can be shared with anyone in the world or they can be kept private for selected individuals. Like many Web 2.0 applications, you can get a free basic account as well as a VoiceThread Pro account with unlimited creation and advanced features for a fee. However, VoiceThread is offering free educator accounts for all k-12 classroom educators.
I think VoiceThread is a great classroom tool and has a great potential in education. It has a user-friendly interface and creating and sharing a video thread is a simple process and all you need is a microphone or Webcam. Teachers and students can upload their PowerPoint slides and expand on the info with audio, you can even set up an account for individual classes that allow students access to the account for group projects. VoiceThread also allows for presentations to be embedded in blogs and Web sites (Wikipedia, 2009).
From my own investigation of Voicethread the setup was easy and quick. I found that this great tool is like a slide show with commentaries by voice, text, audio or video. I then found a feature called video doodling, where you can draw on the picture itself. According to Education World (2009) "teachers and students are using Voicethread as a storytelling tool, a deep thinking tool, a research tool, an expository communication tool, and even an assessment tool." I believe Voicethread would be an excellent teaching and learning tool, as it allows teachers and students to share their thinking and knowledge. Students can show their learning in different ways by using this tool some examples might include; oral or written work. Students can also learn through different means and utilize different skills such as listening, speaking, reading, writing and viewing.
Education World (2009) says more students participate more actively in digital discussions than in the classroom. As a future learning manager I would use Voice threads by posting a variety of topics where students are free to comment on them. This would be great as it engages students in meaningful discussions and as stated by E-Learning. (2009) in a classroom conversation, there's generally one strand of conversation going at any one time, and if you're bored by that particular strand, you're completely disengaged. This would be great within the classroom as it encourages collaborative conversation (Weir, 2008). Therefore this tool fits well within the constructivist approach as the learning and knowledge that is being undertaken is by a class of diverse opinions (Siemens, 2004). This becomes clear by the online discussions, provoking different opinions and view points, these particular viewpoints can initiate new learning experiences and direction. This is therefore allowing students to make decisions about their learning, choosing what to learn and how to acquire the information and knowledge needed (Siemens, 2004).
Education World (2009). VoiceThread. Retrieved August 19th, 2009 from http://www.education-world.com/a_tech/columnists/dyck/dyck019.shtml
E-Learning. (2009). Retrieved August 19th from http://www.elearninglearning.com/voicethread/wikipedia/
Laila Weir (2008). VoiceThread Extends the Classroom with Interactive Multimedia Albums http://www.edutopia.org/voicethread-interactive-multimedia-albums
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
Voice Thread (2009). Retrieved August 19th, 2009 from http://voicethread.com/about/