Penn State faculty may wish to use the online communication and presentation tool VoiceThread in their courses to enhance student engagement, discussion, and collaboration. Anyone at Penn State can use VoiceThread free of charge, thanks to a University-wide license obtained by Information Technology Services.

VoiceThread is a web-based application that allows users to quickly and easily create a shared presentation of images, documents, and videos that visitors can comment on in the form of voice (microphone), video/webcam recording, phone call, audio file, or text. Commenters can also use a drawing tool to draw on top of the media. The resulting group conversation can then be shared with individuals and/or groups for playback. The application is designed to be user-friendly and require minimum technical ability.

VoiceThread can facilitate communication among individuals at different geographic locations. It allows instructors to tap into the trend toward collaboration, group interaction, and teamwork that is becoming the norm in education and the modern workplace. Classroom uses of the application could include introducing course content, demonstrating processes, creating team projects that can be peer reviewed, discussion, analysis, and reflection.

Faculty who wish to learn more about classroom applications as well as recent updates of the tool can attend a free "VoiceThread: Overview" workshop on Wednesday, September 28 at 8:30 a.m. Registration opens August 15 at http://its.psu.edu/training/. A hands-on "Getting Started with VoiceThread" workshop will be offered on October 26. Group training on demand can also be requested; for details, see http://its.psu.edu/training/ondemand/.

For more information on VoiceThread including support materials and classroom use cases as well as to sign in to the service, visit http://voicethread.psu.edu/.

New users can find several helpful resources in the "Getting Started" portion of the website, including a "Roadmap to Using VoiceThread," "Best Practices," and "Using Groups," which includes a video demonstration. Once faculty have learned the basics of how to use VoiceThread, they can select the "Design Consulting" link to submit a request for consultation with a learning designer.

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