Infrastructure

Threaded Discussions

September 10, 2008 1 min read

An online program gives students multiple ways to collaborate and show their work.

The latest hot tech tool for teachers is one that practically screams “project-based learning.”

VoiceThread is a presentation program that allows users to post and share slideshows using a variety of media, including photographs, videos, drawings, or documents, while providing their own audio or text narrative. Another highlight: The application lets other participants—think: students—comment on and interact with slides, using audio, text, and even a doodling tool.

The site has a specific network for educators, called Ed.VoiceThread, that provides a secure environment for students. Through their teachers, students can use VoiceThread to work independently or in collaboration to create or comment on presentations.

Online Presentation Tools

VoiceThread lets users share and comment on slideshows, using a variety of media.

Yackpack is an audio networking service that enables teachers to hold virtual class discussions.

Slideshare provides an environment to create and share slides of images and text.

The company says that teachers are drawn to the program’s adaptability and range. “For teachers, we provide a single tool that can be used for many, many purposes, so they don’t need to use five different applications,” Steve Muth, VoiceThread co-founder, said. “The exact same VoiceThread tool is being used for kindergarten narratives, group book reviews, … language tools, asynchronous mathcasts, and general analysis and discussion.”

Muth added that the company has heard from many special education teachers who say their students enjoy using VoiceThread because it allows them to present their ideas more creatively and clearly than in traditional media.

William Ferriter, a 6th grade social studies teacher in Cary, N.C., recently used VoiceThread to engage his class in a conversation on the crisis in Darfur, Sudan. The students looked at slides of political cartoons on the topic and offered analysis and opinion—and lots of back-and-forth.

“VoiceThread has been nothing short of the most important digital tool that I use in my tech-driven classroom primarily because it provides my students with opportunities to interact in ongoing conversations about school-related content beyond the classroom,” Ferriter said by e-mail.

—Vicki Kriz

A version of this article appeared in the September 10, 2008 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook

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