VoiceThread has been awarded the 2010 Merlot Classics Award for Teacher Education and will be presented with the award at the ET4Online Conference (a triple collaboration of Sloan-C, MERLOT, and Moodle) in San Jose, CA on July 23. The MERLOT Awards recognize and promote outstanding online resources designed to enhance teaching and learning. 

Here are some more exciting updates about VoiceThread that I recently learned about, excerpted from the June VoiceThread email newsletter.  My reflections are in blue:
  • Unlimited Seat License

VoiceThread’s new 1-year unlimited seat pilot program for Universities and Colleges makes it easier than ever to offer VoiceThread to your entire institution. The 1st year pilot includes Active Directory/LDAP or Moodle authentication, unlimited archival exports, a customized landing page and a host of other premium features. VoiceThread is also offering a smaller package for departments. Learn More here…

Applications for Online Learning:  Great news for anyone affiliated with an college or university that sees potential in leveraging the power of emerging technologies to foster community, social presence, and collaborative learning activities.

  • New Webcam Support

    Initially inspired by a request from Gallaudet University to help students of sign language, the ability to record webcam video and images directly into a VoiceThread will be broadly applicable. VoiceThread makes the technical side of capturing, publishing, and sharing web video truly simple. Just click Create> Upload> Webcam and record whatever you’re doing in one single step.

    Applications for Online Learning: I frequently hear online instructors convey an interest in weaving in a seamless platform that allows students to share video presentations without requiring a complicated upload and sharing process.  It seems, here, that this could be a great solution.  Have your students create a VoiceThread that is centralized around their own presentation, recorded into the VT through their webcam.  Then other students can jump in and discuss it!

    Or create a VoiceThread group, breaking your large class into smaller clusters.  Give everyone in the group “edit” prvileges and voila … each student creates his/her own slide in the VoiceThread that contains a webcam video presentation/demonstration of some sort.  This approach allows students to work together more cohesively in groups and eliminates your need to juggle a separate url for each VoiceThread. 

  • Discuss Music Asynchronously

A much requested update now allows you to upload and have conversations about music files in .mp3 or .wav format. As with video discussions the VoiceThread will automatically ‘duck’ or lower the sound level of the music whenever you’re speaking so that your critique can be heard above the music. You can even upload a pdf, doc, ppt, or image file containing lyrics or art to center the discussion of the music.

Applications for Online Learning:  Wow!  Are you kidding?  This is a tremendous enhancement for those who teach an audio-centric discipline.  Music or foreign language instructors can now upload music or voice clips into the central area of a VT slide and have students comment, critique, analyze and discuss what they hear.

Or consider this application…create a Group and share your VoiceThread with the group members, giving each of them “edit” privileges.  This turns your VoiceThread into a full throttle collaboration.  Require each group member to upload their own audio file, providing an example of a music concept or style, a recording of their own creation, or an audio recording in a foreign language.  Then have group members comment on each slide that has been contributed by group members.

  • Reordering Comments

Our most requested, and most hidden feature of the last year is available right at your fingertips. If you are the creator or editor of a VoiceThread you can now reorder the comments by moving your mouse over any comment segment on the timeline beneath the VoiceThread. Just hold down the shift key while over the timeline and then click-drag to move a comment segment to another position. This feature will allow you much greater control over the quality of your conversations. Here’s a visual look…

Applications for Online Learning:  When I’ve use VoiceThread for online teaching, I frequently participate on slides and contribute formative feedback to individual students.  What’s been difficult about doing this is the fact that the “old” VoiceThread interface always placed my comment at the end, as it was the newest, but I might be attempting to leave feedback for the first student who commented.  Now, with this advancement, I (as the creator of the VoiceThread) can easily shuffle my comment so that it plays immediately following the comment of the student I am responding to.  πŸ™‚

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