This semester, Biology 110 has been using the Bio12 online labs for the lab portion of the course, very much like they did last year. However, when VoiceThread was used time, it was still an outside vendor product. Now that Penn State is using it’s own instance of VoiceThread, there have been some ‘tweaks’ to the design, especially with Module 10 when students create their own VoiceThreads to present their scientific discoveries. This week, however, I learned of an unexpected variation to this course that combined pedagogy and VoiceThread.

Students Weren’t “Getting It”
During the delivery of Module 4 (of 10), one of the Teaching Assistants in Biology110 decided to utilize VoiceThread as a way to remediate the students in her sections based upon what she was seeing in these students’ previous modules’ assessments. She was noticing her students were struggling with the concept of establishing null and alternative hypothesis. Although the module material covers these concepts, for some reason students didn’t seem to be “getting it” well enough.
This TA had become familiar with VoiceThread in her work with Biology110 and she decided to use it to create a remediation piece for her students…during the week it was delivered. She created the VoiceThread shown below in a way she felt may better communicate the concept to the students. She also used the context of the current module’s assessment as a way to help them relate the concept to their given assignment. After creating the VoiceThread, she simply got the share link and emailed it to the class via email in ANGEL. Just like that, all students had access to it.

Note that she took the initiative to do this herself and not from any instructions from the faculty member. This is a credit to this TA because she took advantage of VoiceThread in order to create a remediation event that was based upon feedback in the class. Her initial response is that she feels it was effective although I do have some follow up questions out to her this week.
Some Options with it from this Point
The instructors for Biology have a number of options with this VoiceThread now. For example, if they deem it was effective, they could:
  • Embed the VoiceThread in the course material (e-learning pages built with the Blogs at PSU platform)
  • Share the link from the assessment document itself (which is a google doc meaning that it would only need to be updated in the google doc with no other changes up and down the platform chain)
  • Create a link to it from an ANGEL page
They may also want to revisit the existing module content and refine it so that it is more in line with what the assessment asks of them.
Regardless of what they end up doing, this was a rather savvy pedagogical use of an educational technology. I look forward to seeing more!
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