Posts Tagged ‘VoiceThread’

The following list was primarily derived from EDUCAUSE.  They produce a monthly publication that seeks to identify, compile, and review new technologies that show promise in education.  Below, I describe the emerging technologies that began to gain prominence in 2009.

  • Alternate reality games (ARGs).  This application intertwines real objects with puzzles and hints that are virtually hidden anywhere (e.g., stores, movies, Websites, or printed materials).  The ARGs are the devices used to gather clues.  These games facilitate creative problem solving using real-world scenarios and materials (EDUCAUSE, 2009a).
  • QR Codes.  These codes are bar codes that are two-dimensional.  QR codes feature both alphanumeric characters and a URL that links consumers directly to a Website that describes or gives information about a product.  Individuals could scan a QR code on a product with their mobile phone and gather a great deal of information on that product quickly (EDUCAUSE, 2009b).
  • Location Aware Applications.  Applications using location-aware technology can provide online content to individuals based on physical location.  These applications can also send an individual’s location to a third party, such as a friend or teacher.  Location-based information can enhance learning.  Scientific information, historical narratives, and interactive geographic content are examples of how educaotrs can use this tool (EDUCAUSE, 2009c).
  • Live question tool.  This Web-based application allows participants in a presentation to post questions for the lecturer.  As participants post questions, fellow participants can share remarks and vote on what questions they would like to see addressed.  This technology gives lecturers constructive feedback upon which they may choose to alter their presentation (EDUCAUSE, 2009d).
  • Personal Learning Environment.  A personal learning environment (PLE) is a scenario in which individuals direct their own learning through personalized tools, services, and communities.  A PLE is best understood in contrast to an LMS.  A PLE is “learner-centric,” while a LMS is “course-centric.” However, PLE and LMS are not necessarily exclusive of one another because a learner can choose to include several elements of a LMS in his or her PLE.  The notion of a PLE alters the role of resources and stems from the idea that information is ubiquitous.  In a PLE, teachers place the emphasis on access to and assessment of information in addition to metacognition (EDUCAUSE, 2009e).
  • VoiceThread.  VoiceThread allows individuals to aggregate media into one Web site, including media contributions from guests and users.  Initially, a creator places an artifact (e.g., graphic) on the site.  The ensuing discussion about this artifact allows users to comment on the artifact using a variety of media (e.g, video, audio, or text).  Then they can view comments in an interactive manner.  Voicethread provides teachers and students with an avenue for presenting visual media in an interactive manner (EDUCAUSE, 2009f).
  • Microblogging.  Microblogging is a term referring to a small quantity of digital content users place on the Internet, such as links, short videos, pictures, text, or other media.  Twitter is probably the most popular microblogging site currently used.  In education, students often use microblogging for backchannel communication during a live class; teachers can also send notifications and reminders to students using this application.   (EDUCAUSE, 2009g).
  • Telepresence.  This complex application of video technologies allows geographically separated participants to feel as if everyone involved in the presentation were in the same location.  High-definition (HD) cameras send signals to HD displays that are life size, and high-fidelity acoustics localize the sound to each image in order to simulate the effect of each participant’s voice emanating from that participant’s respective display (EDUCAUSE, 2009h).
  • Collaborative annotation.  This tool broadens the notion of social bookmarking by permitting participants to move beyond merely sharing bookmarks by allowing each member to share annotations of a web page.  Collaborative annotations allow users to add notes that explain their ideas on a Web resource or highlight specific areas on the Web page (EDUCAUSE, 2009i).
  • Google Wave.  In Google Wave, a user creates an online space termed as a “wave.” The wave is simply a running document that is conversational, and contributors can offer isolated messages within a wave, which are called “blips.” Google wave can house an entire conversation in one location.  E-mail has been in existence for 40 years and remains virtually unchanged, so this web-based application attempts to redefine electronic communication.  Google Wave seems well-suited for PLE because it offers a single location for collecting data from a variety of sources and allows for an array of formats (EDUCAUSE, 2009j).

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009a, January). 7 things you should know about alternative reality games. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7045.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009b, February). 7 things you should know about QR codes. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7046.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009c, March). 7 things you should know about location aware applications. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7047.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009d, April). 7 things you should know about live question tool. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7048.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009e, May). 7 things you should know about personal learning environment. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7049.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009f, June). 7 things you should know about VoiceThread. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7050.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009g, July). 7 things you should know about microblogging. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7051.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009h, September). 7 things you should know about telepresence. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7053.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009i, October). 7 things you should know about collaborative annotation. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7054.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009j, November). 7 things you should know about Google Wave. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7055.pdf


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Web 2.0 is now a technological juggernaut, and these technologies are revolutionizing the way people communicate, collaborate and accomplish basic tasks. The focus of IT 860, Emerging Technologies in Instructional Technology, was to explore the latest and greatest Web 2.0 tools that show promise in education. Dr. Yuen exposed each student to the theoretical basis for each Web 2.0 tool through his book, “Collective Intelligence and E-Learning 2.0: Implications of Web-Based Communities and Networking.” In addition, students were required to use each Web 2.0 tool that was discussed in order to gain knowledge through experiential learning.

The first generation of the Web was developed primarily by experts and aimed at merely sharing knowledge. Web 2.0 differs in that these tools are created and developed by a variety of users with the intent of collaboration and interactivity. This focus on collaboration and interactivity has facilitated a sweeping embrace of social media. For example, if Facebook was a country, then it would be the third largest in the world behind China and India.

The Web 2.0 applications covered in IT 860 can be divided into three categories: tools that connect people, tools that share knowledge and tools that connect people and share knowledge in virtual environments. A large portion of the readings focused on issues involved with connecting people, while the bulk of the Web 2.0 tools that were covered focused on the sharing of knowledge. It should be noted that while I discuss these ideas separately, the whole point of Web 2.0 is to provide environments that both connect people and share knowledge.

Tools that Connect People

The premise of collective intelligence is founded on the power of tools that connect people. A series of readings helped to shed light on the philosophical basis for the use of these connecting Web 2.0 technologies in education. A new paradigm in learning theories was introduced in 2004 with the birth of connectivism, which stems from the traditions of behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism. Our first reading was on connectivism and described the power of collective intelligence. Connectivists hold that learning takes place as networks of individuals share knowledge, and one powerful Web 2.0 tool covered that represents the power of human connection is Twitter.  For example, Twitter boasts 50 million Tweets per day; that is a lot of connecting!

As might be expected, this level of connectivity requires a good organizational infrastructure and can lead to a great number of legal concerns in education. Therefore, our second reading addressed the obstacles to implementing Web 2.0 in educational institutions. Further, educators need to consider the human and social issues involved with the implementation of Web 2.0 in the classroom, which was our third reading.

Synchronous Online Learning Environments (SOLE) represent an excellent example of synchronous online learning that is offered in an ethical and effective way. In SOLE, students have a chance to interact with peers and the teacher in a similar way to a traditional classroom, and multiple channels of media simultaneously connecting with learners enhance this interaction.

Tools that Share Knowledge

The power of Web 2.0 to share knowledge is robust; in fact, the number of tools is overwhelming. Dr. Yuen did an excellent job of weeding through the volumes of applications available and introducing students to the best of these tools. A reading that described the potential of Web-based video (e.g., YouTube) began this quest.

Following this reading, students dove into a myriad of Web 2.0 tools aimed at sharing knowledge. Social bookmarking (Diigo) is a Web 2.0 technology that allows users to bookmark Web sites and place tags on those bookmarks using keywords. Social publishing sites (Scribd) allow users to share and find written documents on the Internet or mobile devices, such as Word, PowerPoint or PDF. Screencasting (Jing or ScreenToaser) occurs when individuals capture a video of what happens on a computer screen over a span of time, and audio (e.g., narrative) is usually part of a screencast as well. File Sharing (Drop.io) is a powerful trend in Web 2.0 that facilitates collaboration, and users can create a “drop” by uploading an image, audio, video, document or other digital content. VoiceThread is a media aggregator that permits users to upload media to a website, and this tool also facilitates collaboration and feedback on such media.

Connecting and Sharing in Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds find their ancestry in video games. Therefore, our first reading on virtual worlds actually focused on a model of Game-Based Learning (VISOLE). Learning through games is gaining more attention from several educators. Perhaps an even more promising environment for learning is seen in virtual worlds. Our final reading focused on taking a Pedagogical Odyssey in Three-Dimensional Virtual Worlds (The SECOND LIFE Model). As a point of application, each student had an opportunity to make a presentation at a conference in Second Life.

Summative Thoughts

All of these tools described above promoted the sharing of knowledge. However, it would be misleading if I failed to highlight the intrinsic ability of each of these tools to also connect learners. A symbiotic relationship exists between connecting people and sharing knowledge in Web 2.0.

Dr. Yuen provided an incredible environment for learning these emerging tools. In fact, he taught the class through a platform (Mixxt) that closely resembled a social networking site (SNS) rather than through learning management software (LMS). Naturally, this approach led to more connectivity among students and facilitated the sharing of knowledge among the group.

This class has been an incredible journey of learning. I now feel confident to use Web 2.0 tools and design instruction around them appropriately.

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VoiceThread is a media aggregator that permits users to upload media to a website, and this tool also facilitates collaboration and feedback on such media. This free Web 2.0 tool has several unique strengths. Users can easily add a voice narrative on top of an uploaded media, and this media can be a video, photos, slide presentation or document. In response, viewers can add feedback to the uploaded media in the form of video, audio or text. The power of aggregation brings all of these elements together, so that the resulting page contains a Flash-based animation with the original media and related comments. Another strength of VoiceThread is that it is user-friendly, especially in posting comments.

Making a VoiceThread

Users need to sign up for a free account in order to start a project. Creating a VoiceThread begins by uploading media. Fortunately, VoiceThread allows subscribers to upload content from a variety of sources. You can upload from a local computer, URL, webcam or media source (Facebook, Flickr, New York Public Library and other VoiceThreads).

After the media artifact is uploaded, users have the option to comment on each slide. Comments can be made by a keyboard (text), audio file upload (audio), phone (audio), microphone (audio) or webcam (video). Each speaker (i.e., commenter) is identified by a small image that is interactive. In other words, a user can click each speaker’s image to retrieve his or her comment. Creators and commentators also have an option to doodle (i.e., lines, arrows, etc…) on the media as part of their comment.

Finally, VoiceThreads can be shared in a variety of ways: email, embedded in a Web page or through a URL link. Under the “Publishing Options,” creators can control how each VoiceThread is shared. You can make it closed to a group of friends or open to the public. You can allow anyone to comment or restrict commenting. You can also allow the VoiceThread to be searchable in search engines by clicking “Show on Browse Page.”

How can this tool be used in education?

VoiceThread allows students to post an artifact. The teachers and peers can then comment on this artifact. Students could also collaborate on projects in order to produce group presentations or oral histories. In addition, VoiceThreads could be used for digital storytelling and for communication. For teachers, this tool seems ideal for starting discussions. For example, a teacher could post an image or video and then ask the class to comment on the respective media.

Are there any disadvantages to VoiceThread?

VoiceThread might pose an accessibility problem for those students with low bandwidth. In addition, viewing the application on a mobile phone can be quirky because it employs Flash to deliver content. Finally, teachers will have to take a creative approach to assessment because this is a nontraditional tool.

Future trends

In essence, VoiceThread makes sharing visual media easy and accessible, much like tools such as SlideShare. Because VoiceThreads are so easy to make and post comments, users might embrace this technology more quickly than complex technologies. VoiceThread comes across as professional. The ease of use and high quality of VoiceThread makes it an ideal tool for collaboration and interactive presentations. Perhaps the greatest potential of VoiceThread is that it allows users to convey their own thoughts through media and contribute to other VoiceThreads.

You can view a recent VoiceThread that I made by clicking the image below. It is a presentation on “The Value of a Network” from the perspective of constructivism. Feel free to leave a comment!

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As mentioned in my brief biography, I am currently working towards a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration with an emphasis in Instructional Technology. I have a learned a great deal from the classes I’ve taken in Instructional Technology, especially concerning Web 2.0 applications. In fact, this blog was initiated in conjunction with my doctoral program.

In the next several post, I will chronicle some of the learning that is taking place in IT 860 (Emerging Technology in Instructional Technology). Each post listed in the IT 860 Table of Contents will serve to outline the major assignments and the learning that takes place. I also hope to reflect on each project and discuss opportunities for application in my current setting. The following description represent a brief outline of the contents to be covered.

The primary focus of IT 860 is on emerging Web 2.0 technologies. And each assignment iss tied to a corresponding chapter from Dr. Yuen’s book, “Collective Intelligence and E-Learning 2.0: Implications of Web-Based Communities and Networking.“ The major readings for this course include Postmodernism in E-Learning 2.0, Embracing E-Learning 2.0, University 2.0, Web-Based Video for E-Learning, Synchronous Online Learning Environments, Game-Based Learning (VISOLE) and A Pedagogical Odyssey in Three-Dimensional Virtual Worlds (The SECOND LIFE Model). These readings will help to introduce several Web 2.0 tools, provide a theoretical background for each tool and demonstrate points of application in education for each tool.

In conjunction with each reading, students are asked to immerse themselves in the technology. This step is important because instructional technologists need to move beyond a surface level understanding of Web 2.0 tools and actually use them. Without interaction with these tools, comments and discussion would merely be speculative or second hand. The Web 2.0 tools that we will experience during this semester include Twitter, Social Bookmarking (Diigo): Reflection on Assignment #2, Social Publishing Sites (Scribd), Screencasting, File Sharing with Drop.io and VoiceThread. These tools represent current tools that are popular and show a great deal of potential in education. I look forward to experiencing each Web 2.0 application!

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