INTRODUCING…MR. WATSON

Check out my VoiceThread to see and hear parts of “My Story.”

Introduction So here it is…the inaugural blog post! Much like the first day of a school year, this post is intended to work in conjunction with my About Me page (see navigation at the top of the page) to tell you about who I am before we go on our upcoming journey together. A traditional teacher intro would probably look something like one reading the bullet points found on my About page. However……keeping with this blog’s theme of “The Digital ELA Experience,” this first post will look at the experience of using modern technology to potentially better support the purposes of hello activities.

About the Technology VoiceThread allows users to upload photographs, audio, and video files. It has a slideshow functionality, allowing the user to record videos or audio narration as each photo appears. It also includes an option to provide text to either add more commentary to the images or captions to the narration. This makes it an effective classroom tool for differentiation. Additionally, If the user chooses, other viewers can comment on their presentations in text or with an audio recording.

VoiceThread in the Classroom I chose to use VoiceThread as a way to experiment with how I may better introduce myself to students because it is a good way for my audience to have visual aids along with my voice. It could be something that students could even potentially view outside of class in the event that they are absent during “syllabus day.” It could also be a way for them to present similar material to me as well as their classmates in lieu of traditional “getting to know you” welcoming activities. Perhaps students could have a choice between making one of these, using a different digital platform, or drawing or writing about what they would like the class to know about them. They could even speak to why their selected technology best represents their personality.

Affordances As a potential tool option for project presentations, students who struggle with public speaking can practice formulating their verbal responses in a more controlled environment. Additionally, the mix of images, audio, video, and text allow for the content to be accessible to many different types of learners. Finally, it presents a modern method of classroom discussion and offers students who do not regularly participate in class to make their contributions in an interactive way that is likely more comfortable to the tech-savvy student of 2019.

Constraints While VoiceThread is fairly simple and quick to use, there are some shortcomings. It takes a little too much time to find a few of the features and the layout seems somewhat dated. Additionally, the audio quality is not as strong as some other digital tools that I have experimented with for different assignments. I think the biggest issue that I have with it is that you have to click when you are ready to go to the next slide during a presentation instead of having continuous play. It is not as flashy or contemporary as some of the applications that the students may be used to using. Finally, if students were to use it for their assignments, it would likely be necessary to require that they turn off the commenting feature or to heavily monitor what they write or say in their replies to ensure that cyber-bullying does not occur as a result of someone anonymously creating an additional account.

Questions for Teachers about Using VoiceThread:
  • What kind of assignments (besides introductions) have you employed VoiceThread?
  • Have you had or have you heard about a negative experience concerning students and inappropriate reply comments?
My Suggestions for Using VoiceThread:
  • Use this tool (or one like it) instead of the standard/traditional “getting to know you”/welcome day activities.
  • I would advise other teachers to search for similar platforms that seem more user-friendly and cutting-edge. If they do endorse VoiceThread in their teaching by commonly employing it, they should continuously check to see other options if VoiceThread does not update with new versions somewhat regularly.
Cautions Using VoiceThread: 
  • The audio quality may be poor.
  • Potential issues with cyber-bullying. Have students turn off the commenting feature.