Conversations in the Cloud

As one of the first 
educational Web 2.0 tools, Voicethread has staying power due in part to both its simplicity of use and its unique offering of media based commenting.

VoicethreadThis year brought a new version of Voicethread and with it some behind-the-scenes features that continue to make it one of the top educational online applications.
At its core, Voicethread offers users an interface to “upload, share and discuss documents, presentations, images, audio files and videos” coupled with the ability to “comment on VoiceThread slides using one of five powerful commenting options: microphone, webcam, text, phone, and audio-file upload.” Teachers and students can have media-based conversations, discussions, debates, and presentations online. Voicethread is accessible from any updated browser on any device, as well as, through an app specifically for the iPad. One of 
the new features included in a 
district license is full integration with Google Apps for Education, allowing users to login through their Google homepage. You can find Voicethread in the available apps listed under the Apps launcher (9 small grey squares on Google sign in page).

The open-ended nature of Voicethread connects it to a range of 
content, grade level, and instructional applications. From an early elementary teacher-led read aloud where students can comment on a specific reading strategy such as inference to a high school debate around a primary source document, there are endless opportunities for Voicethread to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom. Current practices in Cambridge Public Schools include a collaborative asynchronous group presentation in 6th grade science that includes data, screenshots, 
and evidence-based claims. Using 
Voicethread also allows the teachers and students to review all the presentations outside of school without consuming too much 
valuable classroom time. Also in the Upper Schools and at CRLS, foreign language teachers have been capitalizing on Voicethread’s capacity for students to record their voice to demonstrate proficiency in speaking skills. Other projects could include artwork analysis, virtual tours, or media-based exit tickets.

Ann Niederkorn, Library Media Specialist, shares “First through third grade students at the 
Graham and Parks have been 
using it in the library for several years. VoiceThread projects have given students the opportunity to combine research, writing, drawing, and public speaking skills to 
create class presentations on topics 
ranging from landforms to farm 
journals, moon and animal 
research, and favorite books. 
While many students are initially embarrassed to hear their own recorded voices, they quickly get over it and become excited about the projects. One especially helpful feature of VoiceThread is that it allows students who have difficulty speaking in public, including many SEI students, to re-record their voices until they are satisfied with their presentations.”

CPS has recently purchased a 
district license for all teachers 
and students grades K-12. To learn more about Voicethread check out this video titled What’s VoiceThreading?, and the other tutorial videos on the Voicethread Youtube Channel. In-person support is available by contacting your 
Instructional Technology Specialist, Library Technology Specialist 
(6-8) or Library Media Specialist, all excellent resources to get you and your students started and 
help you think about how to best 
integrate this amazing online tool .
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