Voices in the Cloud

Recently, I’ve been utilizing a web 2.0 tool for education called Voice thread (www.voicethread.com). This site allows you to have text, audio and video conversations around a central point of focus. For example, you can post a famous piece of artwork into a thread and then people (public or private) can share their thoughts and opinions about the piece. They can respond to everyone’s comments as well. The thread also affords users tools to make marks and highlight things directly on the central focus point while they talk, helping to illustrate their points or draw attention to something specific.

In my experience, I have been using voice thread to learn about coding. It’s such a great supplement to an online class because you can have conversations around lecture slides, and it provides another fun forum to explore thoughts and ideas.

Image

Another cool feature is the ability to zoom into the central focus point so that you can see the material more clearly if fonts or details are otherwise obscured. A feature that I wish it had was the ability for commenter to switch out the central focus point if needed in order to show the group something a little different, almost like an interjection in the discussion. This would allow users to stay on topic while temporarily changing the display of the central focus point.

Bottom line is that I found it to be a very useful tool for online courses, by giving subject matter the collaborative feel of classroom environment.

Photo Sharing for Education

I must confess that it has been awhile since I have used a photo sharing site. With iPhones making it easier to share a photo album with groups of friends in your contact list, I had strayed from sharing photos from an external site. Recently I navigated to flickr, to research photos on poverty in America.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/984052@N25/pool

This web address had some very interesting photos. Here is one I found particularly poignant

https://flic.kr/p/6kSdaQ

The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words rings true here. While you’re browsing through the various photos, you get a sense of poverty in America that you just can get from a research paper or data sheet.

One thing that is a little frustrating with such sites, is that the photos can be quite difficult to share. Many of them have restricted sharing features which seems counter-intuitive to a site designed to share photos with the public. I wanted to embed a few photos into this blog, and though the feature was available, it was not allowed on the photos I looked at.

I think that flickr could be a great way for students to organize a visual exploration of a topic. By sharing photos of, for example, photosynthesis, students might gain a deeper understanding of the process, since they will have an array of images associated with other learning material.