This is a guest post by educator and VoiceThreader, Imelda Reyes.
Over the years, I have really come to enjoy using VoiceThread (VT) in my graduate courses. It offers a level of interaction with students that you simply cannot get with a regular discussion board. I am able to use it as a lecture platform, quizzes, or general discussions. I love that it integrates with Canvas, our learning management system (LMS). There is an assignment builder within VoiceThread that allows you to create assignments that automatically populate your grade book with an easy to use rubric style tool. The edit options within VoiceThread allow you to build a VT that either encourages interaction with students or you can moderate comments so that only you as the instructor sees them, for quiz-like options.
As for discussions, the feedback that I received from students is that they liked getting to know their colleagues better and felt more connected to the classroom, even though it was a distance class. In my classes, I only allow students to comment using the audio or webcam options and I ask them to finish their profiles so that I can associate a face with a name.
For one particular class this summer I had the students lead the seminar discussion each week. I provided them with some content that was easily modified to their needs and had one student take each week. It allowed for them to hear another person, other than me, every week. The students would start with a basic PowerPoint presentation and upload it. They would record their comments, embed questions, respond to their peers and I would comment or clarify as needed. I was super impressed with their level of engagement and was super pleased with the work produced every week.
For a different course, I had groups of students present on specialized topics in pediatrics. They had to create a 15 minute presentation on a health promotion topics in groups of 4. Some students are at a distance, so having a cloud-based tool allows for easy collaboration. They were graded as a group so each team member is able to comment on their partners work if they need to improve upon the material.
Finally, once done, VT has a nice export tool that you can use that will compress everything into a video that captures all comments. This summer in another doctoral class, I had students share their thoughts on how they were achieving competencies and limited their responses to 3 minutes. I had a class of 30 and if you do not limit their time, you could be listening for a very long time. But what was interesting was that they were praising a course in health policy and I was able to export the video and share it with the faculty member as a kudos.
**About the author:**
Imelda Reyes is a clinical associate professor at Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and has been teaching full-time for seven years. She directs the pediatric nurse practitioner program and the population health track of the doctorate of nursing practice program. You can follow her on Twitter at_ @DrNurseDNP_