It’s the end of another insanely busy academic year and only recently have I found a few minutes to spare comment here about a few new tools that I discovered thanks to Rochelle Mazar, the emerging technologies librarian at UTM. One such tools is VoiceThread, a tool that allows conversations around images, texts, or videos. This video illustrates the many features of this tool.
I was immediately taken by the pedagogical potential of this tool. It could be an interesting way to foster discussion around an image or video before class, for example, or even to continue in-class discussion. In that sense, it would allow for more inclusive teaching as it would allow students who are shy to express their views as well as allowing students to express their views not only in written form but also in spoken form (allowing perhaps for more in-depth comments). The interface itself is very clean and intuitive and hopefully wouldn’t scare the computer illiterate students.
At the very least, it could be a cool way of going through the class syllabus. To test the system, I uploaded a pdf of the syllabus for my recent course and had Rochelle add comments (both types and spoken comments). The comments took a few minutes to appear on my end, but I liked the way the system works, allowing comments to be placed near points in the text. This might actually be a better tool than wikis, for example, for allowing students to comment on each other’s work. The good thing is that it can also be embedded on webpages – so one could embed it on blackboard, for instance, or in a wiki page. The example below is the syllabus example I mentioned above. What do you think?