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Group Participation and Community Using VoiceThread

VoiceThread is a great Web-based digital storytelling program that enables users to upload pictures or documents, record accompanying audio (or video) commentary, and invite others to record commentary as well. Its simple combination of visual and recorded media is perfect for creating multimedia presentations in a relatively short time frame using simple tools. With VoiceThread teachers and students can create virtual tours, report on books they've read, comment on historically significant photographs, debate a topic, and more. Its uniqueness lies in the ease in which audio commentary can added to images and documents and the ability to add multiple commentaries to a single artifact. VoiceThreads can be hosted free of charge at VoiceThread.com and each VoiceThread has its own unique URL. A VoiceThread can be embedded in blogs, wikis, and other types of Web sites and even downloaded.

Why VoiceThread? 

VoiceThread provides a wonderful opportunity for student self expression and creativity. The simple combination of visual and recorded media is perfect for creating multimedia presentations in a relatively short time frame using simple tools. It also prompts students to think carefully about what they are going to say before recording themselves. As many educators have discovered, especially language and art teachers, there are a myriad of educational possibilities with VoiceThread. For example, students can practice foreign language skills by describing a picture. They can analyze and comment upon historically significant photographs or architecture. Photography students could present and explain their work and artists could upload and describe their drawings. A class can create a virtual tour of a place or event they are studying. VoiceThread can even be used as a means to debate a topic. For instance, students could analyze and comment on photographs of the crisis in Darfur and debate the appropriateness of United Nation's intervention in the area.  - Tom Daccord

Note: Since we wrote our VoiceThread tutorial for Best Ideas for Teaching with Technology, VoiceThread has limited the number of free VoiceThreads to three and now offers a fee-based "Pro" subscription for $60/year. It also offers educational pricing to schools as part of "VoiceThread for K-12."

What is VoiceThread?

VoiceThread Simply Speaking from VoiceThread on Vimeo.

Examples of VoiceThreads

Here are examples of VoiceThreads in the History and Social Studies classroom:

  • The Cigar Box
    In this award-winning project students remix primary source images to create digital collages and historical documentaries. VoiceThread played a key role in providing peer feedback (across different classes and schools).
  • The Silk Road
    This VoiceThread provides a scaffolding for research and active engagement with an important topic of world history.
  • 5th Grade Ellis Island Narratives
    This project was designed to enable students to truly feel the immigrant experience. Students closely examine images looking for clues to foster understanding.
  • 4th Grade - Letters from Internment Camps
    Students explore an historical event that is relevant to their physical community, the removal of Japanese-Americans to internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
  • 11th Grade - Reconstruction
    Students were actively engaged and finished with a clearer understanding of what the post Civil War era was really about.
  • Many Voices for Darfur
    Students examine political cartoons about the world's reaction to Genocide in Darfur and comment on them.
  • Earth Day
    A VoiceThread created for EarthCast 24-hour celebration on April 22, 2008.
  • Abraham Lincoln's Dog, Fido
    A teachers created a VoiceThread for second and third graders who wanted to know more about Lincoln's dog, Fido.
  • Who we Are...
    This example compares students from Belize (Punta Gorda) and Rye, New Hampshire, including favorite foods, # of siblings, etc.
  • Renaissance Europe
    Students refer to two paintings to explore the lives of women during the Renaissance.

For more examples, please visit the following:

Tutorials on VoiceThread

To Get Started:
Go to Voicethread.com. Once you've filled out the brief registration form and signed in, apply for the free education upgrade. Click on the K-12 link on the home page and then click Single Educator. Apply for the free "VT Educator" license or upgrade to a Class Subscription.

To add commentary:
To record audio in VoiceThread you will need a microphone. If you use an external microphone make sure it is turned on, and turn up the sound input volume on your computer if it is low. Make sure your speakers are turned on so you can hear the recording.

Designing your own VoiceThread
This process could take between 10-30 minutes. You will need to upload pictures or documents, add audio (or video) commentary, and invite others to comment. If you invite students to join your VoiceThread, you will want to come back to listen to the comments that the students leave. VoiceThread has a moderation features that allow you to delete or hide commentary. If you use class time, budget 15-30 minutes to let students record their own commentary. Note that they might also do this at home as part of an assignment.

Introduction to Using VoiceThread (by Radford Education)

This YouTube how-to video provides an overview of VoiceThread tools:

VoiceThread Tutorial

This tutorial shows you how to create an account, create identities, record voice, add text, and annotate.

How to Integrate VoiceThread

VoiceThread can be integrated in classes in a variety of ways:

  • Create a virtual tour of a country or historical place.
  • Comment on historical photographs.
  • Create oral book reports.
  • Create a public service announcement on an important local or world issue.
  • Simulate an interview of a historical or fictional character.
  • Comment on editorial cartoons.
  • Comment on a speech, law, or other document.
  • Analyze and comment on charts and graphs.
  • Simulate a debate on an historical topic, such as the Bill of Rights.
  • Create a presentation based on images of local artifacts or architecture.
  • Practice vocabulary in a foreign language.
Teaching Digital History Part 3 (VoiceThread)

This YouTube video is part of presentation to Middle School teachers on ways to incorporate VoiceThread in the classroom.

Spring Webinars

We have an incredible line-up of FREE, live webinars for spring.

  • 4/8 - All Things Google!
  • 4/15 - Leading Change in 1:1 Classrooms
  • 4/24 - Technology in Humanities Classrooms
  • 4/29 - Games Are Good for You!
  • 5/6 - Creation and Collaboration Tools for the BYOD Classroom

>>Registration is Open!