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.

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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.

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Web 2.0 Tools: Bubbl

Recently, I’ve been using a mindtool called bubbl. Located at http://www.bubbl.us this tool allows you to create a concept map using bubbles. You can create child bubbles, link them and add text and pictures. It’s a terrific way to graphically represent a concept. One of the more notable features is that you can share your created concept map with your contacts and designate varying levels for their involvement. If you share the document and make others editors, you can all collaborate on the concept map together.

Anyone one who has ever put a concept map to pen and paper will immediately recognize the usefulness of this digital tool. Bubbles are easily created, deleted and linked, so organization becomes very simple and manageable. I started an elementary concept map about surfing, and found that it helped connect the concepts involved in a readable and visually pleasing way. Having such a tool in the classroom would be a great way for students to collaborate on a topic, brainstorm a project and enhance their content knowledge about a subject.

This tool does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and I haven’t found very many flaws. To access some of the premium features (attaching pictures, exporting/importing) you have to pay for a subscription but the fee is nominal and the website does offer a substantial student discount. Image