Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Online classes use Voicethread as a new learning tool

Posted on November 12, 2016 in News
By USM Free Press

By Katie Harris

USM professors are relying on VoiceThread, an online communication discussion board,as a means to communicate with students through digital conversation. What makes VoiceThread stand out to professors is that it allows students to communicate through different forms. On Blackboard, students are only able to communicate through discussion board posts. VoiceThread, however, has many features that both professors and students can take advantage of.

Unlike typing in a tiny text box on the discussion board, VoiceThread allows USM students and professors to communicate in many different forms. Like Blackboard, students can still type in a text box to get their thoughts across, but with VoiceThread, students can do a lot more than just type words. Some professors have expressed high praise for this online tool and are impressed with how students are enjoying interacting through it so far.

USM’s Communications Professor Leonard Shedletsky says that students have more variety to interact with their peers.  

“Voice that allows you to approach a normal conversation more closely than the Discussion Board,” Shedletsky stated.

Shedletsky also said he’s been using this tool for years, and that he likes how VoiceThread allows students to post content through video with a microphone, photograph and audio. He uses VoiceThread for all of his online classes that he teaches, but  mainly uses VoiceThread for his Intrapersonal in Communication and Research Methods in Communications classes. By having students introduce themselves at the beginning of the semester through this interface, students and professors are able to connect faces and voices to the words they share with each other throughout the semester. It gives both sides a better feel of different forms of online discussion

The main reason Shedletsky chose this as an online tool is for students to get more involved with their peers in the class he is teaching. He said that most of the students like VoiceThread and hopes that it will enhance the level of discussion in online courses

Media Studies Professor David Pierson uses VoiceThread for his Writing for the Media course. This is the third semester he is using it for this class and, like Shedletsky, he said it is a great tool for students to use that provides more than just one way of communicating. He thinks that it benefits students in the long run, but believes that there needs to be more student involvement. VoiceThread is a great way to ask questions or make comments to both other students and the professor.

“It could help benefit students, and is a good way to ask questions,” Pierson said.

Pierson also says if the student has a question about the course material, the student can always send him an a traditional email for further clarification.

VoiceThread is emerging as an online communication tool for professors to introduce students to another form of communication for their online classes. USM professors like Pierson and Shedletsky are among the group of USM professors that use it as a means to get more student involvement online. The Blackboard discussion board has become more difficult to navigate for students, with some choosing to not be a part of the discussion, which can be frustrating.

If VoiceThread continues to enhance the online learning experience at USM, it may be here to stay. The more USM professors introduce this, the more likely there will be an increase in of student involvement in online discussion in future online classes to come.

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