Welcome to the MDE conference.
The idea behind this particular blog was born when, as a miltary wife, I followed my husband to Pennsylvania for 10 months. Unable to teach full time, I had just begun my second MDE class, and I accepted an internship in a museum setting. As a regular classroom teacher and librarian, I knew the benefit of field trips for our students and also the tremendous amount of work involved in their planning.. In the DE program, I was learning about all the new types of technology that were becoming available, as well as the differences between the prep needed for an online classroom and that needed in the traditional classroom. In the musem, I was learning about how the museum prepared for the onslaught of busloads of excited children on a weekly basis and what was done to help the teachers prior to the actual visit to the museum. I realized that some of the emerging technologies that were being used in the DE classroom could not only make things better for classroom teachers preparing the students to go to a museum, they could also allow students to learn more effectively and encourage them share what they had learned. For the DE classroom teachers, the emerging technologies will potentially allow the student to be better prepared to visit a museum as an individual.or the class to conduct a completely virtual trip. For the museum educators, many of these emerging technologies allow the students to connect with the collections in new ways and to share their museum experiences and hopefully, encourage the students to become lifelong museum users.
My discussions with museum educators and classroom teachers over the last few months have led me to conclude that the biggest problem in using the new technologies is quite simply that most educators, wherever they work, simply don’t have the time to spend exploring what is out there, much less put it to use. The goal of this blog will be to identify what is readily available, identify possible uses, and hopefully, to get input from a wide variety of educators as to what is being done in classrooms and museums across the world. . Please feel free to add comments about any of the topics. As I said, I'm still learning and hope to learn as much from you as you will learn from this blog.
Voice Thread is a tool that allows an asynchronous conversation to take place around an initial posting (a video, a slide show, an audio file or a graphic file). Those wishing to add to the conversation simply need to sign up for voice thread (it is free) and make a comment (in a the same variety of formats.)
The asynchronous format means that the conversation can be active and ongoing for many months, and even years. Although this is a very simple concept, it is very effective in allowing not only the students in the classroom to discuss the topic, but also allows for the museum educator and other invited partcipants to add to the conversation.. It is a format that when done well, will encourage questions, answers and explanations.
The big benefit for this tool is that either the museum educator or the teacher can initiate the conversation. Conversations can be public, but it is also available for the K12 environment, which means that it is only made available to other schools and students that are signed up for the http://voicethread.com/products/k12/school/#
One of the biggest fears of many school districts is allowing the students free reign to explore the internet. Although most educators understand the benefit of collaborative work, there are still many fears that prevent the use of public wikis and blogs. The Education K12 version of Voice Thread cuts through these fears by creating a K12 area that is only accessible by those K12 educators and students that are signed up. Educators may invite parents, authors and other adults, but students may not extend invitations to non-students. This option should alleviate the fears of many teachers and administrators and/or parents while still allowing students to share thier work with their peers both in the school and across the world.
I initially discovered voice thread while reading Herminia Din’s book “The Digital Museum - A Think Guide” An art educator with an interest in educational technology, she has been some very interesting ideas and one of her voice threads can be viewed at this link.
http://voicethread.com/share/241086/ - Feel free to add to the conversation that she has started about the use of 2nd life in educaion.
Some other voice threads as posted by museums
http://voicethread.com/share/126788/ - a voice thread on science and innovation. I liked this one because it asked a question that encouraged a response.
http://voicethread.com/share/216734/ trip to Malawi - - this voice thread shows the conversation about a trip to Malawi - I chose it because even though it's not about a museum, it had a wide variety of responses to the photos, showing the potential for a very vivid conversation.
http://voicethread.com/share/9973/ - museum - human + - This voice thread shows a museum educator discussing an interesting topic - technology and humans. Some of the pictures posted certainly provoked thought and begged answers.
http://voicethread.com/share/8878/ K20 educators and 2nd life. Although this is an excellent discussion topic, there were few answers to the post. What do you think was the reason?
You can see more samples at voice thread - just click on browse.
A museum educator or a classroom teacher could post pictures of the exhibits or related items along with a related question. Students would use the internet (possibly with a webwalk or a webquest) or the local library to find the answers to the questions and post a response prior to the field trip.. Students should be encouraged to post in-depth answers and post their own additional questions to keep the conversation going. This type of pre-visit assignment also encourages teacher /teacher collaboration - Whatever subject you teach, work with the technology teacher to help the students learn how to create audio files/videos/flash graphics etc. Teachers and librarians can also use this opportunity to collaborate in teaching information literacy skills.
Encourage the students to take photos (where allowed) during the trip - they'll need them to keep the post trip conversation going. .
After the field trip, the students could continue the conversation (or start a new one) adding their own pictures/movies and impressions of the visit. Students can be separated into groups to create their own voice threads and be encouraged to create voice threads of their own to share with other classes. Voice threads after a trip could be shared with classrooms preparing for a trip. Once the voice thread is created, it will still be there for the next year - or the next class - or to share with a class who are not able to visit the museum.
Pros and Cons.
Once you've seen this technology, it's easy to get excited; however, nothing is perfect.
If you choose to use voice thread, then please be aware of the following
1. Like any technology, practice makes perfect. Create a non-public practice voice thread until the students feel comfortable with their ability to post well. Nothing is worse than listening to posts that are inaudible, too loud, or simply lots of rustling and background noise. Only go public when students do feel comfortable. (Try using audacity to create audio files that can be audited to edit background noise.)
2. Ensure that volume is appropriate and can be adjusted. Although you have no control over other comoputers, try to record at the mid-level volume. That way, users can always raise or lower the volume.
3. Stimulate the conversation by asking a question..
So - now you know about voice thread - explore some of the links and let me know how you would use this technology in either the K12 classroom, (virtual or physical), or how it might be used in the higher ed. area. If you have already used it, please share a link to your voice thread in the comments section. Let us know what you liked/did not like about this technolgoy.
I'm looking forward to hearing from you. Tomorrow, we'll be exploring how to create presentations and documents collaboratively using google docs, slide share and collaborative mind mapping so please check back in tomorrow- and don't forget to share the link to the blog with anyone who might be interested.