Sunday, July 1, 2012

Voice Thread - Evaluation of Educational & Consulting Application


LOCATION ON THE WEB: or the App Store

CATEGORY:  Collaboration Tool

WOW!  This tool is phenomenal!  It is mobile, visual, and auditory with additional benefits of telestrator technology.  This product provides the missing link to conventional PowerPoint presentations. Collaboration is the core of this online platform and enables teamwork in a variety of forms.  It was simple to create a group and then upload the PowerPoint slides with one click.  The menu is intuitive and simple so adding video or voice notes are a breeze.  The telestrator allows you to mark up the slide to provide further explanation of your point.  Mobility is enhanced with both iPhone and iPad apps so you can quickly add your comments and thoughts as they come to you. 

The only aspect of the program which I find disappointing is the inability  to import videos from YouTube into the content for collaboration.  It appears that the only videos that are allowed into the program are those webcam videos the user records directly into the software.  Perhaps this could be the next evolution of the software to expand content.

It should be noted that if you acquire a one year $99 faculty license, you may archive the projects or you can download individual copies for $2.99 each.  I have paid the $2.99 to see what the final product would look like so you can see for yourself.  The quality is very good.  Compared to Starbucks, it's cheaper, will last a longer and can be used as a teaching aid to students as visualization for the final project.  I have included both an mp4 and mov version of the team presentation and you can see that the quality is not as good when compared to the presentation within the VoiceThread.  While the export was easy to execute the quality of the final product could use some improvement.  



To see an example of this online tool, please click on the link below.  This example was a team project created by Brian Baldwin, Lana Coble, Amy McClurd and Maggie Redling in an online graduate studies course, CUIN 7356 and 7376 at the University of Houston.
Note:  you will have to set up a free online account before accessing the group below.

     Our team utilized the following formats to prepare our final presentation:
               •         Wiggio
               •         VoiceThread

               The initial planning for the project was performed in 
                   Wiggio.   This format allowed video notes, conference 
                   calls and uploading of background template files so 
                   the team would have a consistent visual approach.
                   Team members conferred on the topic phases and 
                   assignments in a very efficient manner by utilizing 
                   Wiggio.  Updates to the slide presentation were 
                   uploaded to Wiggio so all team members could 
                   access the materials.  Once the slides were 
                   developed, one member of the team uploaded 
                   them into VoiceThread and notified the group.  
                   Each team member then added their comments 
                   via voice notes, video notes or markups to provide 
                   further explanation of each slide.  The process was 
                   amazingly quick and efficient due to the online tools 
                   and equally contributing team members.  
                   VoiceThread was utilized to bring the presentation to 
                   life and expound upon the nuances and depth of each 
                   slides content.  In effect, the end product is similar to 
                   making a presentation in person except it's on an web 
                   based medium.

When thinking about the potential educational application of this tool, I can envision its usage with team projects, specifically the preparation of team projects.  The capability of providing video notes is a good preparatory step to making an actual presentation for students.  Most students haven’t made many formal presentations in their undergraduate studies so they are nervous and don’t realize how they come across.  One of the items that I stress with each of them is to practice their presentation and record it on video so they can refine their typical practices that don’t present well, i.e. swaying, using the same word like “uh” numerous times, and not making eye contact.  Oftentimes, students don’t have the resources to perform this exercise but with the use of VoiceThread, they could perform some level of this concept.

Instructors could utilize this tool to perform both verbal and visual      feedback to the students’ final presentation thereby allowing in depth commentary and a better learning experience.

With the global economy consulting projects could be enhanced when team members are located around the globe.  A current example which comes to mind is a consulting project for scheduling a major design effort in Doha.  The time zones between Doha and Houston don’t promote conference calls but the use of VoiceThread would allow each party to contribute to the schedule at their convenience and the use of voice and video when added to the physical document would enhance understanding.

Another example that I am currently utilizing is the development of a video storyboard.  Since this involves brainstorming and ideas will generally evolve in a nonlinear fashion, this tool is ideal for this purpose.  Of particular importance, the content of the video entails stories generated by my client so it aids in gaining familiarity with the nuances of the subject when I can hear the inflection in their description of the subject. 

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