Using VoiceThread to Deepen Student Discussion


VoiceThread is a very well established tool in the education space (K-12 and Higher Ed) that allows educators and students to discuss, comment and critique digital media in a much richer forum than just text. By giving users the ability to add audio and video comments as well as written thoughts to media, conversations can be made deeper and more human, helping students to understand difficult concepts as well as promoting engagement and interaction.

VoiceThreadName: VoiceThread –
Pricing: Free / K-12 or Higher Ed License
Compatibility: WebiOS
Access: Email signup
Privacy: Customizable (privacy policy / ed policy)


A Quick Look

In the below video, educator Michelle Pacansky-Brock walks through how she uses VoiceThread and how it assists with learning in her class. It is also worth noting that while the tool can be used for free, access to VoiceThread’s secure collaborative educator network does require an educator license (K-12 or Higher Ed).


In Practice

1. Peer review and feedback

While peer review can can offer a number of real benefits to students in the form of feedback and critical thinking, it is often difficult to put into practice effectively. Try using VoiceThread to assist this process by uploading student work and letting students add their own comments and thoughts. The personal nature of video and audio will help students provide more thoughtful feedback and the emotion that is often lost in text, will help clarify each student message.

2. Visually documented discussion

Using VoiceThread for class discussion means that the conversations can happen anywhere (class, home or mobile) and it also means that feedback is documented, so it can be referenced or used time and time again. This kind of conversation could take any number of forms, collaborative class discussion on a work of art, offering differing opinions on an event in history or even a solution walkthrough to a particularly lengthy math problem.

3. Collaborative storytelling

One fun and creative idea from educator Vic Jenkins is to use VoiceThread to create or recreate stories or scenes from films and plays. Try uploading a short story or excerpt from a comic or film and have your students work together to add the script. They can keep it authentic, or get imaginative and put their own spin on the story!

4. Asking and answering questions

A huge benefit of an online tool like VoiceThread is that conversations do not have to be one-way. Try taking a flipped approach and use VoiceThread as the forum for students to ask, and for you to answer questions. This will mean that all students have access to your answers and are able to access them as and when they need. This concept has been used to great effect in colleges and higher ed.

5. VoiceThread across oceans

Just because you are using VoiceThread with your class does not mean you cannot open it up to the world. Try partnering with another class outside of your school, state or even country. This is can be an excellent opportunity for students to collaborate with peers from different cultures and can offer a gateway learning experience to discussing a myriad of other topics and concepts.


Links and Next Steps


Feature image adapted from image courtesy of Flickr, Fede Racchi.

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