Megan Baril, an instructor in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development, has been using VoiceThread in her “Introduction to Human Development and Family Studies 129” course. She has been using VoiceThread in teaching this class through the Penn State World Campus for the last three semesters.
- In her class of 60 students (30 students per section), she divides the students into groups of 7-8 that make up each VoiceThread discussion group for the semester.
- She provides one VoiceThread assignment at the beginning of the week for each lesson and makes a version for each discussion group.
- Megan sends the VoiceThread notice out on Monday and requires students post their comments by Wednesday of that same week.
- To assess the comments, she had a basic rubric that asked comments to “Qualify as a substantive contribution and pushes class discussion forward”. Points were awarded on an “all or nothing” basis; 5 points for meeting the rubric, 0 points if not.
- Builds a sense of community in an online course: She felt these assignments helped build community in an online course. Being able to see and hear the instructor as well as fellow classmates facilitates this sense of community.
- Students liked using it: In her course assessments, Megan has consistently seen that students like the “Discussion Kickoffs” assignment being done through VoiceThread. She considers that a very good sign for this online course.
- Peer to Peer Discussions: As noted above, she was thrilled to see that students were addressing each other in a number of the groups and not just commenting to meet the requirement.
- Get more microphone (voice) comments: She noticed that many students continue to comment via text. She is hoping more will use the microphone in the future.
- Make onboarding to VoiceThread smoother: Megan said she is still noticing her students struggle at the beginning of the semester to properly use VoiceThread. She’s not sure where the confusion is but she is wondering if a custom-made tutorial might be the answer. They latch on quickly but she is hoping to make this process easier.