Friday, June 26, 2009

Educause: 7 Things You Should Know About VoiceThread


Well, it looks like VoiceThread is moving up in the world of education technology. Educause just featured it in its acclaimed "7 Things You Should Know" series which is a wonderful resource for faculty and instructional designers eager to consume clear examples of how specific emerging technologies can be applied in educational contexts to support learning. Be sure to check out the series if it's new to you.

I'm also excited to see that Educause has featured my own study from Sierra College in the "Who is Doing It?" section citing:
In one recent evaluation at Sierra College, where VoiceThread was used in distance learning courses in art appreciation and art history, students noted that the tool helped establish a sense of community and reinforced the impression that the instructor was involved in their learning process.
There is one description in the "7 Things" report that I am either misunderstanding or is incorrect. Here is the complete excerpt from #5: What Are the Downsides:
VoiceThread might require a rethinking of traditional approaches to assessment. Because VoiceThread does not allow multiple users to have simultaneous access to the same account, it may be necessary for an entire class to use a single class account login. As a result, students could remove or change comments made by others or inadvertently delete an entire VoiceThread. As with other multimedia-based applications, VoiceThread presents an accessibility problem for some users. The application can be slow or quirky and does not function uniformly across all browsers, raising questions about its robustness. Because VoiceThread produces Flash movies, using the application from a mobile phone can be problematic.
I'm not understanding why multiple users (students) would need access to a single account in order to accomodate an assessment. If an instructor creates an assessment (like a template in VoiceThread) and each student has his/her own free VoiceThread account, then each student easily logs into that account online from anywhere and completes the activity. The comment moderation tools comes in handy for instructors who haven't completely made the transition to collaborative, formative models of learning assessements. Maybe I'm missing something here but I just don't see this as an issue with VoiceThread at all.

The bigger issue to me is the accessibility concern which is referenced, although minimally, and I've noted in an earlier post VoiceThread has stepped up and is resolving this issue -- yeah, VoiceThread!

Enjoy the new resource!

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