Students, faculty and staff will soon have a new way to engage in rich conversations within D2L using the visual discussion board tool, VoiceThread. With the recent purchase of an enterprise level of the product, users will be able to leverage VoiceThread directly within their online courses with the mere click of a button. This solution will allow faculty to map the collaborative and collegial spirit of synchronous interaction into a model that is flexible and accessible for their students.
Created in 2007 as a way for users to add voice annotations to content, VoiceThread has expanded into a much-beloved tool for educators looking to see and hear their students. This is particularly compelling in the online environment, where faculty are often forced into choosing between the convenience of static asynchronous discussions, or the logistical woes of scheduling an interactive, synchronous course meeting. VoiceThread allows students to watch video, screencasts, or other rich media, and then respond with their own video or audio comments using a webcam or microphone.
Each post appears as a “thread” around the original prompt and is added whenever it is convenient for the user, thus creating the feel of a spirited online discussion. This ultimately allows faculty to engage deeply with students on salient content without the demand of a synchronous session. Though many UA faculty have been manually incorporating VoiceThread into their classes in the past, the new enterprise-level installation will allow unlimited access to create and moderate VoiceThreads from directly within the D2L interface.
On July 15, 2015, VoiceThread visited the University of Arizona to share new features, pedagogical approaches and best practices for incorporating it into the online learning environment. The day began with a series of presentations from VoiceThread Instructional Designer, George Haines, walking members of the Office of Digital Learning and the Office of Instruction and Assessment through the features of VoiceThread integrated into D2L, to include single-sign on using your NetID, comment moderation and organization, and captioning and accessibility. Vice President of VoiceThread, Amanda Volz, was on hand to answer questions from the group and share insight into future upgrades and features. The day concluded with a standing-room only presentation on Humanized Learning with VoiceThread, led by Michelle Pacansky-Brock, Teaching and Learning Innovation Specialist from California State University, Channel Islands. In her presentation, Pacansky-Brock offered discipline-specific uses of VoiceThread, and shared her research on the myriad benefits of bringing VoiceThread to the
The presentation, along with various tools and live demos of VoiceThread, can be found at
UA faculty are expected to have access to VoiceThread directly within D2L by the start of the Fall 2015 semester.
Learn more about VoiceThread at the following links:
ODL: Getting Started with VoiceThread [http://odltools.arizona.edu/tools/visual-discussion-boards-voicethread]
ODL: VoiceThread Troubleshooting and Support [http://odltools.arizona.edu/tools/visual-discussion-boards-voicethread]
Educause: 7 Things You Should Know About VoiceThread [http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7050.pdf]
VoiceThread: About the Features of VoiceThread [https://voicethread.com/about/features/]
VoiceThread: Blog [http://blog.voicethread.com/]
Teaching Without Walls: How to Humanize Your Online Class with VoiceThread [http://www.teachingwithoutwalls.com/p/voicethread.html]