The hectic life of a student often requires multiple presentations over the course of a semester. As a result, “presentation programs” like Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote see regular use from campus undergraduates. If a presentation is assigned to a group of students, they may gather together and collaborate on a document that assists them with speaking in front of their peers. At the end of the day, however, these programs rely heavily upon text to communicate ideas to the audience.
This week, Wake Forest University is proud to announce the purchase of VoiceThread accounts for all students, faculty, and staff on campus. VoiceThread is a web based program that allows users to communicate digitally in a conversational style around a slideshow with voice or video. Presenters using this service layer narration over their slides using text, audio, or webcam, and the audience has the ability to view and comment in a similar manner.
This style of collaboration makes it possible for groups to construct and conduct presentations outside of the classroom. When presentations are made in digital space, the constraints of a physical classroom are lifted. Every student is given an equal opportunity to interact in real-time with the presentations that their peers have created. With this technology in place, students may be able to curate dynamic documents that enrich each student’s learning experience.
The service doesn’t stop at benefiting students. According to the press release posted on Inside WFU, possible uses of VoiceThread for faculty include:
- audio narrate a slide presentation for a class and invite questions;
- present a series of images and ask for comments;
- collect pronunciation samples and give feedback for language teaching;
- record voice and pen annotations as you mark-up a paper you are providing feedback on; or
- have your students use it to turn in projects or presentations for peer assessment.
This collaborative technology is one of many that have been rolled out to the entire campus after exhaustive testing and feedback with test users. These technologies are offered to increase productivity and cooperation by reducing the impact of time and space constraints. Thousands of faculty, staff, and students already use the video conferencing tool WebEx to meet their goals. The powerful features behind VoiceThread promise to offer a different, but effective tool for higher education.
The Professional Development Center will be featuring several workshop opportunities which focus on a variety of use cases for VoiceThread in teaching, learning, collaboration, communication, discussion, documentation, demonstration, and providing feedback. Two classes will be offered on the following dates: February 19th, and February 27th. Register for a class via the Professional Development Center. Find Wake Forest specific help and how-to documents on the Wake Forest VoiceThread page.
Wake Forest University students, faculty, and staff can access VoiceThread by going to http://voicethread.wfu.edu and logging in using your Wake Forest username and password.