Tag Archive for voicethread

Lingt Classroom

This was a post about Lingt Classroom shutting down, but in fact only Lingt is shutting down, not Lingt Classroom. Confusing!

We continue to wait for the ultimate. web-based audio and video recording solution. Our language teachers just discovered Lingt, which allows teachers to easily record and post audio and review student-submitted audio clips — perfect for extending students’ speaking and listening practice beyond class time.

Confused about Lingt vs. Lingt Classroom? This graphic explains it all.

When will we achieve simple web-based audio recording? NanoGong looked promising for a while, but we had issues with the consistency and ease of use of the Java applet, and they are moving slowly to integrate with Moodle 2.0. Moodle fans are considering other options. Riffly looked terrific for a short time, but then the company apparently imploded. VoiceThread is terrific, but you can only use it their way, and the learning object structure does not match every teacher’s learning environment objectives. Students could record audio to their computers and then post the files, but this requires a lot more setup and troubleshooting than direct web recording.

When we do finally get there, the effect will be pretty significant for language teachers and learners.

Update: Jac directs us to Audio Dropboxes from Michigan State University

It’s not about the next big thing

No matter how many amazing technologies that educational technologists may personally enjoy, our work in schools is fundamentally about supporting teachers and students. We provide the tools and means for teachers with limited time and risk tolerance to try activities that apply modern pedagogies and use social technologies. We ourselves operate in a different world, immersed in social technologies at our desks and at home, able to spend far more time than can most teachers.

I spent an hour today with arts teachers from grades PS-12, focused on a single topic: posting multimedia content to web sites. If we post more content, students can exhibit more work, and visitors can learn more about the school’s arts program. Our teachers already have the media—digital photos, audio, and video. They just need help crossing that last hurdle to post the content online.

mask work

We have our share of early technology adopters. They build amazing lessons with technology tools: trip planning with Google Earth, language activities for homework with Voicethread, real-time group writing in Google Docs and class discussions in Moodle. Now we are grooming the second level of teachers who are eager to learn new technologies once they have seen others use it successfully, and the platform looks stable. This second wave of teachers is much larger than the first, so many opportunities exist to provide training, visit classes, and involve the innovators in providing leadership and guidance. The second wave will make student-centered classroom uses of technology commonplace, not just exceptional.

Many kids figure out how to post content on their own, especially in the higher grades. Younger students need more assistance, especially with audio, since the most successful commercial networks emphasize photos and video. Substantial online writing—especially collaboratively—is often a new experience for students. We have also found some success with students learning skills in one grade and carrying them on to the next.

Helpful in this endeavor is insideCatlin, our “walled garden” of social software open to the members of the school community. While I completely understand some educators’ insistence on teaching students to use publicly available tools, we find it easier to scale technologies to multiple classrooms when everyone uses a common platform that we can bind to our login system and customize to our liking. Intranet-based services also ensure that authorship of posted content is easily identifiable, helping teach responsible use within a community setting.

I have scarcely mentioned Twitter at our school. Does it have potential as a useful tool? Sure, but we’re better off using scarce teacher time to deepen one’s still-nascent understanding of the last few years’ inventions, to enrich their curricular applications and actually improve student learning. I’ll continue to tweet, but I won’t encourage our teachers to (at least not yet)! I may even get into Second Life (if someone drags me there), but I would not roll it out here in a big way. Teachers’ brains and schedules are currently full. Except for the rare few, they can’t give these new technologies the time they require to make them really useful in the classroom.

What successful experiences have you had scaling new, curricular applications of technology to the majority of your teachers?

Voicethread activity design

Voicethread may be one of those very versatile tools that appeals to a wide variety of teachers and supports many different kinds of learners. These examples demonstrate some different lesson designs we discussed during a meeting with our language teachers and Barbara Cohen of Marin Country Day School.

Introductory activity: state your goals for the year, attempt your first Spanish statements. This activity was both a low-risk way to have kids test their Voicethread connections from home and get a sense of their Spanish abilities.

Quiz practice: Kids practice and share their preparation for the phrase completion quiz.

Math solutions: This creative example took us by surprise. The MCDS students use the doodle tool and audio narration to walk through math solutions. Very cool.

Organic story: Spencer came up with the idea to have students create a story one comment at a time. Start with a single prompt and then have students each continue the story from the previous student’s comment.