Friday, March 7, 2008

Experimenting with Lab Reports and VoiceThread

A little while ago I wrote about how I like to try a new tool every week (give or take). After reading a post by Jeff Utecht earlier in the week, VoiceThread rose to the top of my 'Tools To Try' list.

Funky light

Jeff wrote about how a science teacher at his school, Carol Jordan, had her grade 9 students report the results of their science experiments. Instead of the usual formal lab report document, the students either created a YouTube video or a VoiceThread. I have been thinking about having students do lab reports in a different format so it was a very timely post for me! In his post, Jeff has lots of examples of both types of lab 'reports' which was incredibly useful to see what the students produced.

Last night I had insomnia, which was the perfect opportunity for me to try out VoiceThread! (With a 4 and a 6 year old where else do you find the time?!) I signed up for an account and created the following VoiceThread which provides information on how to navigate my blog. Lately I've had trouble embedding items in this blog, so first here's the link and now the embedded file: [kml_flashembed movie=" " width="480" height="360" wmode="transparent" /]

VoiceThread allows you to upload a variety of files; video, photos, documents etc. You can then comment using audio or video. In true web 2.0 fashion it also allows others to comment on your work, so feel free to comment away on my VoiceThread.

I did have a few technical difficulties with VoiceThread--the program wouldn't let me edit at times and I somehow ended up with a lot of scribbles on one of my slides--but all in all it was very straight forward. I could see students being able to figure it out and being able to start creating pretty quickly. Unlike SlideShare's slidecasting, which I posted on here, you record the audio directly on the VoiceThread site. With SlideShare you must produce your audio on your computer, host it on a podcast host, then link your slide show to the podcast host. So a bit more set-up is definitely required with SlideShare. SlideShare slidecasts do have a more professional feel to them, but VoiceThread allows for more interactivity.

VoiceThread also offers, with is designed for use by teachers and students. It is designed as a safe environment for students to create and comment on each other's work. They are obviously trying to address the security concerns that some schools and districts have with social networking type sites.

In summary, I think that VoiceThread is a pretty user friendly tool, and I don't think it would take much to get the students used to it and using it.

Image: Funky Light by Gaetan Lee


  1. Blaire,

    I love voicethread! My students used it to play cellvivor where they had to defend their specific cell part from being voted out of the cell. The voicethread discusses the cell parts usefulness. It was fun.

    Because of this, several groups created voicethreads of their understandings of cells processes in creating their cell portfolio. They liked using them.

  2. oops, Claire (should turn lights on this early in the morning!)

  3. Loiuse, thanks for the feedback. I love the idea of cellvivor! Would you be able to share some of the student voicethreads?

  4. Hi Claire, just got to Day 20 something or another of the Comment Challenge and Michele has mentioned VoiceThread again, so I'm about to try it out. Thanks for the information on how to use it. I'll let you know how I get on with it.

  5. Sarah, I'll be interested to hear how you like it. I wish that they allowed you to make more than 3 free voicethreads, otherwise I think it's $20 a year. I would like to try them with my students next year. I've used them to do a few birthday 'cards' for relatives--my four year old and six year old give their birthday wishes in voice and or video along with photos of what they've been up to--it's been a real hit!

  6. Thats interesting about the payment - I hadn't realised that. The other thing that has cropped up on my blog is a discussion on VoiceThread's terms. I find the language very ambiguous regarding copyright:

  7. Yes, the payment is a bummer, because it is such a cool tool--don't they know that we expect all good web 2.0 things to be free?! The terms for so many of the on-line companies are difficult to parse. It was interesting how the VoiceThread guy commented on your post right away though.


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