Monday, May 9, 2011

Creating Presentations with VoiceThread

VoiceThread is a Web 2.0 application which allows users to create a presentation with a series of images. The images can be of many formats including JPEG and PNG. Users can also add audio and text comments, as well as doodles, to their presentations. Presentations can be published and shared on the web with a choice of privacy levels. Individual accounts are free; educators can get a group subscription for $10/month for 100 students. This account allows the teacher to manage and control groups, publication and privacy.

My students created presentations for Earth Day, which were shown to parents and community members. Each student selected a topic, researched the information, and drafted and revised their ideas. Here are some of their covers from my group "My Voice" page. Students selected images to accompany the information they presented.

One requirement was that they show themselves in a photograph showing an action that would impact the environment in a positive way. Students used digital cameras and iPhoto to show themselves picking up litter, turning down the thermostat and throwing paper in a recycling bin. One brought his bicycle to promote alternative transportation while his partner touted the benefits of fuel efficient cars.

This shows the workspace for each image. Students select an image to represent their "identity" which I assigned. My students used their first names. The creator of this slide is represented by the rabbit. She gave some typed information to accompany this image, followed by an audio recording. I required audio comments for each image. I have found that students pay more attention to what they say compared to what they write. Students put a lot of effort into revising their work.

One of the best features of VoiceThread is the ability for audience members to comment (written and audio) on each image of the presentation. My students gave peer feedback to their classmates, telling specific things the creators had done well. They also told the authors what they had learned from the presentation and what they were going to make an effort to do to protect the Earth!

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