Now this is another of those clever websites that makes you wonder initially about its purpose – Voicethread has been set up to enable online conversations about an image or video that you upload along with a starter question or comment. I thought I’d try it out with my Third Year French class using food and drink as the topic, and I was quite pleased with the outcome and the pupil response.
That’s a screenshot above, the real thing is here. Having uploaded the pictures (there are three slides to this particular thread) I added the pupils as my ‘friends’ and shared it with them via e-mail. They then added their responses at home. As you can see, they were in most cases text responses; some recorded their contributions as audio clips. You can also make a video comment with a webcam – I’ve tried it out (not on this one, however) and it’s quite scary to see and hear yourself popping up in a speech bubble! The end result is a slide show that plays through automatically – or you can click on individual comments to see or hear them. Hovering over an avatar reveals the name of the contributor.
The teething problem we had was that initially I used school e-mail addresses, which was a mistake, as a lot of invitations obviously got sent to the spam folder, which pupils cannot access. Switching to personal e-mail addresses was better, though they did sometimes still have to retrieve the invitation from their junk mail. As a result, we didn’t hit 100% on this attempt. Next time I hope for a greater success rate.
Voicethread would work really well for those instances when real opinions are involved, eg views on school uniform. Some teachers in other schools are using it for inter-school dialogues, such as in the leadup to an exchange.
If you’re interested in the detail, the instructions I supplied to my class are on the Expo 2 Moodle site, or you can see them here.