Saturday, August 11, 2007

Student Voice

Thanks to Will Richardson (via an email from Artichoke) for this one...

...Voice Thread - Basically a Web 2.0 tool that allows you to capture numerous voice responses to a single digital image and then post to your blog or website. What I like is that as an author I can post this and invite other (registered users) to also respond to the image and to what has been recorded by adding their own voice. Also it can enable many voices to be heard in response to the same photo...almost like hearing the individual thoughts of a group, aloud, as they simultaneously respond to an image.

Apart from its potential as a collaborative online tool that anyone can access Will considers that Voice Thread could take us past..."creating and publishing" and "enable the conversations and connections that occur around the content, where the most potential for learning lies."

...and in an email from Artichoke..."It is like being able to scribble in the margins of an image...Voice Thread takes everything that I reckon is shallow in podcasting and liberates it...And why do I think podcasting is shallow use of technology? If we continue to focus on the changes in technology rather than the changes in teaching and learning we simply use technology to “recreate education as it is.” What is so profoundly innovative about recording voice and sharing it?"

....fair question...and one that we should easily be able to defend...if not to others at least ourselves and our students whenever we utilise technology to support learning. I know there are some innovative examples of the impact podcasting has had on student learning and I believe if you delve deeper you will find it has not been driven by the technology but rather in response to the learning purpose and through facilitating experiences that both challenge and support students to think, reflect and make new connections both virtually and F2F.


Marnie Thomas said...

I like it but I wish I could listen to one as an example - can you invite me to your site or whatever has to happen?
I have started getting into podcasting in my class as a way to capture the kid's thinking - with Year 2 it is such an easy way to record their thoughts/knowledge and it takes only a few minutes to get round the class rather than an hour long writing session if they had to write it down. Voice thread could be an even better idea as it can identify who the speaker is rather than them having to say 'my name is' etc. I will investigate it further. Thanks for sharing it!
See you on Wednesday at ACE (I think)!

Artichoke said...

Defending stuff should never be easy Fiona - because it is in the struggle that we learn.

So why is podcasting innovative, more powerful in terms of catalysing deep student learning outcomes than what we have done before with recording voice?

And "engagement" is not going to be an acceptable answer

I reckon you should use the challenges raised in Mr Moses blog post on Why online schools will ultimately fail as a starting point

So, you work for an online school?


What is it that you guys do?

Oh, we teach kids using computers.

You mean like they’ve been doing since 1985?

Well, we’re a distance education program.

You mean like they’ve been doing since 1840?

Yeah, but we’re using the internet.

You mean that thing that’s been around since 1994? What is it that you do different? Do you let students pick their own courses?


Can students show you that they know what the need to know about a class and then just move on to the next class?


Do you let students work on projects that are important to them in their personal lives and have it apply to their classes?


Can students work with groups of students in the school, and around the world, to get their work done?


Can students take what they do in your school show it to the world and if they did would rest of the world will find any value in what they are doing?


How’s your school different from other schools?

We’re an online school.

So, you work for online school?

Fiona Grant said...

Hi Marnie,

If you go to the home page at and click on learn more there are some examples form the creators....I suspect from my minimal investigations so far, that you might be right. Will look out on your blog for some feedback.

Yes I will be there on good to see you too. Please encourage as many to come along as possible as this will be a valuable opportunity for some F2F conversations.

Fiona Grant said...

You are right Artichoke, I would hope I do some of my better thinking when challenged ;-)

When I posted I was thinking about your question...'What is so profoundly innovative about recording voice and sharing?"...

Well nothing really! However then I thought about some examples where podcasting has been used to improve learning outcomes for students. I could see its potential to... facilitate greater participation and collaboration through the web, encourage audience (parents, community etc) feedback, develop students understanding of what they need to think about and plan for as they explore the process... we don't need to use podcasting to learn this stuff...there are other tools like Voice Thread. That's when I come back to my comment that the learning....

"has not been driven by the technology but rather in response to the learning purpose and through facilitating experiences that both challenge and support students to think, reflect and make new connections both virtually and F2F".

...yes I am struggling and learning more every day ;-)


Artichoke said...

Loose thoughts here Fiona - still figuring out what I think

When I look at some of the many ways teachers are encouraging students to record their voice (book reviews etc)and then get comment from people in far away countries or even their parents who live just down the road I can see why we get enthusiastic about the ease of sharing with the OTHER that podcasting allows

- BUT it always makes me wonder (and worry about)why learning to talk to the machine should be rated as having better learning outcomes than learning to talk to real people F2F in our school communities?

It is not that I haven't seen some clever uses of podcasting to catalyse relational level comparative thinking with kids - the podcast of student questions between Dominion Rd School and a school in the States being a case in point - its just that I see a whole lot more "broadcast" type uses of podcasting.

Podcasting/(e) busking activity that might seem more authentic and attuned to the Key Competencies if the sharing of voice (the book reviews etc) took place in the local child care centre, shopping mall,library, supermarket, street corner, neighbouring school or resthome - something that I think we have lost sight of in all the edu_hype

Voice threads seems to me to encourage the collection of diverse views and their comparative analysis - rather thah a simple broadcast of what I think.

If you have written a book review / critique - what is the learning purpose in taking this piece of text and reading it aloud?

I want to think carefully about that (and there is a purpose in reading aloud) and then imagine what are the conditions of value when reading aloud - is it best done in solitary into a microphone for feedback through text comments on a podcast site OR is best done to an audience of real people who give an immediate response through gesture, voice, body language etc etc

Fiona Grant said...

Some interesting ideas discussed by Wes Fryer and other educators online that present a perspective on 'why podcasting?' in education.

Artichoke said...

Hi Fiona - how was your evening with Leigh? Reckon you should check out codblog's post on podcasting different contexts but similar concerns over "value"

Fiona Grant said...

Thanks Arti will do...I am exploring something with VoiceThread at the moment so will let you know the results. Leigh was great...check out my latest post.