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by Caroline LaMagna

VoiceThread is a website that allows you to create a slide-show of images, videos, and documents and add text and voice comments without having to download and install any software.  You can also draw on your images with the “doodle” feature to highlight areas of an image or document on which you want to focus or comment.  When you share a VoiceThread, you can allow other users to comment on it, too - sort of like an online group conversation. Oh, and you can moderate the comments.

One very cool feature is the The New York Public Library’s Digital Gallery. Over 700,000 images are freely available for use in your VoiceThread right through VoiceThread. All you have to do is create a new VoiceThread, click Upload and choose Media Sources. Then you can choose from The New York Public Library, Flikr, and Facebook. Now, in my district, the last two are blocked, but you can get to the NY Library Images. You can also upload images from your computer or use a web address to import them into your project.

Here is a VoiceThread I put together very quickly (it was really easy) mainly using images from the NY Public Library Gallery:

Ellis Island

You do have to register with VoiceThread in order to use it, but there is a free account option. With the free account (VT Educator), you can create up to 50 VoiceThreads and have 250 MB of storage space - oh yeah, the completed projects are stored on their server and you get a link to share. You can also generate code to embed your VoiceThread on your blog or website. With a free account, you don’t get any archival downloads (click here for more information about exports) Exports are $2.99 each or 10 for $20.

For a one time $10 fee, you can get a Pro Educator account. This account is on Ed.Voicethread, allows for the creation of unlimited VoiceThreads, and gives you 10 GB of storage space. Also, you get 3 free exports.

With a class subscription ($60/year) you can create accounts for up to 100 students, create groups, and export 30 VoiceThreads per year. You also get 10 GB of storage space, plus 1 GB per student and you can create unlimited VoiceThreads and each student can create up to 50 VoiceThreads. There is also a school subscription option.

Anyway, you could start out by creating a VoiceThread and allowing your students to comment on it, but I think that the real potential of this application for K-12 is in giving students a chance to tell their own stories and critique their classmates’ VoiceThreads. Students could also collaborate on projects, and since it is all done online, they could even work on them at home if they have internet access. Projects can range from “A Day in the Life of a 21st Century High School Student” to author/novel discussions, original poetry exhibitions, foreign language lessons for peers, timelines of historical events, steps in a scientific experiment, studies of different cultures, and even VoiceThread projects on problem solving skills - including math (in which I need considerable remediation) whether the problem is simple or complex. There are many examples at the K-7 Mathcasts 500 Project website. There is also a Ning called VoiceThread for Educators that is 1,800+ strong. Members share ideas and resources for using VoiceThread in the classroom - you may want to check it out!

VoiceThread offers a library with classroom implementation ideas, posted by the people who actually used them (you can contribute your own as well). You can also browse some VoiceThreads that explain the VoiceThread features here. It’s worth a look!

Visit Caroline LaMagna’s Blog

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