Once you have decided to use VoiceThread for your class, it’s important to think how you will ease your students into properly using the application. While it helps that VoiceThread is easy to use, you still want to provide ways for them to acclimate to the tool in a way that won’t overwhelm them in their first assignment and promote good practice in usage.

This page provides emerging best practices related to introducing VoiceThread into your class for more effective use of the tool by you and your students. Click each item on this list to learn more.

1. Onboarding Students to Use VoiceThread
2. Best Practices for Students Making Comments

Onboarding Students to Use VoiceThread

When introducing a new technology for students to use, it’s important to make it as ‘invisible’ as possible so they don’t view it as a barrier to their learning. Even with a tool as easy to use as VoiceThread, there are a few simple things you can do to make the transition to using it even easier.

1. Create a “low stakes” VoiceThread for students to try before moving on to bigger things.

Try creating a VoiceThread in which you simply require students to make a comment in which they state their name and their major. In making their comment on this ‘practice’ thread, have each student:

  • Make the comment via microphone, webcam or phone. Remember, the idea is to get students accustomed to commenting via VOICE.
  • Upload a picture of themselves as their VoiceThread avatar. Being able to see a picture of the instructor as well as their classmates helps foster a sense of community.

2. Be sure to refer students to http://voicethread.psu.edu.

However you communicate with students, be sure to have the URL to this site available to them. Whether it be in your syllabus, in ANGEL, your course webpage or other, be sure to point them to this site. Point them specifically to the Quick Start guide for students and the FAQ page.

3. Follow up to ensure your students ‘got it’ the first time they try VoiceThread.

It’s important to check in VoiceThread to ensure students commented the way you intended on a first assignment. Don’t settle for a headnod or lack of questions about the assignment to determine that all students were able to use VoiceThread properly. Go into the VoiceThreads and check. This will help eliminate issues in future assignments where students claim they ‘weren’t sure how to use’ VoiceThread.

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Best Practices for Students Making Comments

Commenting

Comment Moderation – Comment Moderation allows you to review all comments before allowing others to see them.

1. Have students comment using their voice! 

    • It may seem obvious but this point can be lost very quickly, so don’t let it. When requiring students to comment on a VoiceThread, require them to make the comment via voice. The easiest is the microphone comment but they can also use the webcam or, if they have technical issues with those two methods, they can use the phone commenting feature.
    • Student VoiceThread responses often model the mode in which the first comment was made. So if the first student responds using the text comment, there is a good chance the following student commenters will also use text. While the written word is not a ‘bad’ form of commenting, it does not take advantage of the strengths of VoiceThread.

2. How best to comment on a comment

    • While VoiceThread allows for commenting on the media in a slide, it does not allow for a true threaded discussion. But you can still easily facilitate student-to-student interaction by encouraging students to respond classmates’ comments by beginning with such phrases as:
      • “To respond to [student name]’s comment, “
      • “In listening to [student name]’s story…”
      • “I feel that [student name]’s comment…”

3. Encourage doodling

Doodling

    • Be sure to encourage students to use the doodle tool whenever appropriate. Too often, this feature is overlooked in comments especially by students. The doodle tool is easy to use and is a very effective method of enhancing the communication of a comment.

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