While virtual classes are more and more popular in universities, there have been many attempts to create new technological tools to be use in online classes. Some teachers have adopted a well made online audio software: Voicethread. Voicethread is a website to which one subscribes and create an account. To this account, one can record audio files. It is set up as a conversation to which the person who record the audio files selects users to listen to the files and respond with an audio comment if they desire.
Although online classrooms are mainly directed to higher educational level students, there are many ways in which it can be used at the elementary and high school level. As a future ESL teacher, I am interested in finding new ways of having the students get more occasions to communicate in the target language. Hence, I think that the concept of Voicethread is very interesting and, as I made researches about it, I discovered a few ways in which Voicethread could be used in the context of a second language-learning classroom.
There are many ways in which Voicethread can be included in ESL classroom. It can be used for any audio recording project. It can be very basic where the teacher starts a conversation by recording him or herself introducing a debatable subject to which the students would record audio comments. It is a great way to render a conversation more interactive and to ensure that the distribution of students’ participation is equally shared.
It could be used, for instance, in order to simulate a radio channel. Students would be asked to record themselves as radio animators. It would be a great opportunity for students to practice oral skills. It could be done in teams and set up as an interactive project to which each teams could record audio comment to another team’s radio record. This is a great way to incorporate the concept of cooperative learning while keeping things innovative and interesting.
Voicethread could also be used to create a story. Indeed, the teacher would initiate the story by recording a storyline to which students would take turns and record the subsequent storylines. Images can be added to each voicethread so that it makes it more of a real story. It would be a good idea to combine it with the online comic strips creation website Toodoo. The students could make the comic strip they create more interesting by putting voice over the images.
Voicethread is a great tool to be used in order to have the student to speak more in the target language. It allows the shyest students to express themselves more, hence it improves the rate of student participation.