Looking for engaging learning technologies? The Tech Talk for June presented by Cathy Mewes from the Faculty of Arts showcased the recent uses of VoiceThread in the Department of International Studies and how you can incorporate this tool into your unit.
What is VoiceThread?
VoiceThread is an interactive collaboration and sharing tool that enables users to add images, documents, and videos to which other users can add voice, text, audio file, or video comments. It integrates easily with iLearn and its polished interface makes it easy for both staff and students to use. A VoiceThread activity can be set up as an assessable activity or as a place for students to practice presentations, comment and give feedback on each other’s work, have discussions, or simply just introduce themselves.
All activities on VoiceThread are asynchronous. Staff and students can record their own voice or webcam, add powerpoint slides and video clips. A more recent function allows for students to collaborate on a single VoiceThread, opening possibilities for new ways in designing group assignments. There are three basic activities in VoiceThread:
Individual VoiceThread – This is best suited for open activities such as class activities and student introductions. It can be particularly useful for units with external enrolments.
Comment Assignment – The best place to start with using VoiceThread, this allows unit convenors to set up a space (for example upload a powerpoint slide) and ask students to engage with the content by posting recorded comments (audio or video recordings). The unit convenor retains all control over this type of activity.
Create Assignment – In this type of activity students are given control over the work space. They can create a VoiceThread and have their peers view their work and record comments.
Voice Thread has been in use at Macquarie for almost 2 years and has garnered several positive results. Currently there are 11 units in the Department of International Studies using VoiceThread.
Unit convenors in Spanish and Latin American Studies, Japanese Studies, German Studies, Italian Studies, and Russian Studies have incorporated VoiceThread in their units. In some cases, it was used as a practice tool for students to discuss and respond to material posted by their tutor, greatly improving pronunciation skill and boosting confidence. Some other uses have been formal assessments where a VoiceThread activity was the final oral exam. It has also proved ideal for cases where students created a powerpoint slide and added voiceovers to each slide, as if they were presenting their slideshow in class. Their presentations were then open for comments and feedback from their peers and tutor. There were also instances where these presentations were used as a feedback tool prior to an assessable activity to improve based on feedback. The annotation tool also proved to be very useful as it allowed the commenter to emphasise content by using highlighters.
For those interested, there is much more detail available in the VoiceThread activity which was presented by Cathy Mewes at the Tech Talk. Simply enrol yourself into the Faculty of Arts iLearn Toolbox (self enrolment) where you will be registered as a student. Navigate to section 12 “Collaboration and Communication” where the VoiceThread activity is available in the Webinars section.
How can I use it in my unit?
VoiceThread is available for all unit convenors across campus. It isn’t a default activity so you will not find it in the ‘add activity’ option on iLearn. Instead please send a OneHelp ticket and ask for an instance of VoiceThread to be added to your unit. You can also request to add it to your iLearn sandbox if you wish to investigate it for a future unit. Please note that there are limited licenses so get in quick!
The Faculty of Arts iLearn Toolbox has instructor guides for staff and students, as well as webinars on the use of VoiceThread and important tips to get you started!