Time for Plan B

Sunday, January 04, 2009 | | 4 comments »

I saw this post by Collette Cassinelli and was a little disappointed. There are some changes being made at VoiceThread that will no longer allow me to do what worked for others, but didn't work for me. I know that may sound confusing, but one of my goals this year is to learn more about VoiceThread and use it with students. I contacted Kevin Jarrett, who knows quite a bit about VT and asked for advice. Kevin and I chatted via Skype on a Sunday morning and he gave me some tips on how he's using VT with his students and how they comment on the work of their classmates. One of his suggestions included creating multiple identities within one account - my EdVoiceThread account. He noted this has worked well for him, so I gave it a whirl. For whatever reason, this didn't work for me. We could get everyone logged in, but they couldn't view any of the pictures in the VT. All slides showed up at black screens. Hmmm. Since that time, the project hasn't gone anywhere (I'm very good at starting projects and not finishing them). While the VT was as add-on to the main project, I felt okay leaving it alone. However, I'm still a little frustrated that what worked for others, didn't work for me. With the news in Collette's post, it seems like everyone who was using this strategy is going to have to find a Plan B - most likely involving the purchase of additional VT accounts.

Help me find a new Plan B. How are you handling this change? I'd like to know.


  1. Colette Cassinelli // January 4, 2009 at 12:11 PM  

    You might consider reading the posts over at http://voicethread.ning.com/forum/topics/feedback-on-voicethread for a discussion of the security issue. Hope the following explanation gives you some ideas:

    Here is the workflow that I recently used on a VoiceThread project that was made with a class of 30 8th graders:

    1. Students were broken into groups of 3or4 kids each and conducted research about the 9 themes of Digital Citizenship.
    2. Each group wrote a script and recorded the narration (as an audio file) of the information they wanted to share. Some kids used microphones and Audacity for recording and a few used their cell phones and Gabcast for recording (note: you can record narration directly onto VT slides but doing it my way allows students to prepare the narration ahead of time).
    3. Each group create 1 or 2 PowerPoint slides to accompany the narration.
    4. Each group filmed a question with Flip videocamera about their topic for VoiceThread users to respond to.
    5. All groups saved their work into a shared network folder.
    6. One member of each group worked with the teacher to upload their slides and video to the teacher's VT account. Then the audio recording was uploaded as a comment to the appropriate slide.
    7. The teacher rearranged the slides/video into the correct order.
    8. Another class from our school will be invited to view the VT and "answer" the questions posed in the video clips. Students (over 13 who have their own FREE VT account) can then comment on the VT with their own identity. Students (under 13) would have to take turns on their teacher's account to comment on the VT but could each still have their own identity of the teacher's account.

    This example shows how a classroom teacher can still use the FREE educator account with a class of 30 kids. Please note that almost all of the work was done offline and the VoiceThread account was only accessed at the end for uploading and commenting. The doodle feature is not available using this method.

    The example of this VoiceThread is still under construction (missing a few files and no commenting has begun yet) due to no school and inclement weather this past week. View the examples at: http://voicethread.com/share/270990/ but please don't add comments.

    A few things I learned during this project.
    -Give each group a checklist of what they need to gather before ready to upload to VT.
    -Next time I would probably break this VT project into several smaller ones instead of assembling all the slides/videos into one large project. It will make it easier to comment because it takes too long to go through all the slides.
    -I would also limit how long the audio comment recording could be.
    -Instead of having each group create a new "identity" when uploading their comment - they just used a generic "8th Grader" or "VCS student" identify that I created. We could have made a unique identify for each group but I didn't think that added value to the project. We will use individual identities to comment though (accountability!)
    -I was able to monitor each group's work before it was uploaded and give suggestions about content and design.

    Hope this description helps clarify how a teacher could use VT with a large class. It did take some planning and "creativity" on my part - but I think the overall project was better because of the advanced planning.

  2. Mister Teacher // January 4, 2009 at 8:47 PM  

    Hey dude,

    The Tar Holes went down tonight! I hope your New Year is going better than theirs! ;)

  3. Chris // January 4, 2009 at 10:24 PM  

    Hi, Chris.
    We used multiple identities also when logged into one teacher account so all students could participate. We're also looking for a plan B. What we did was budgeted for some paid accounts-on the VT site it says unlimited students on a paid account, so...we're looking to buy one account for all of 3rd grade for teachers and students to share. I'm not exactly sure how it will all play out, but that's what I'd like to discuss. I'll check back to see if anybody else has any ideas or comments. Thanks.

  4. Colette Cassinelli // January 7, 2009 at 6:51 PM  

    It was great to chat with you and Lee last night on Skype. It really helps to put our heads together and come up with solutions that will work for our unique situations. Good luck and send me links to your VT projects when they're done.

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