I use VoiceThread in my online course as an ice-breaking activity to support and facilitate social interaction in an online web-based teaching and learning environment:
- So students can get to know each other.
- So students will feel a sense of belonging in the course.
- To establish a sense of class community. So students will establish trust with me and their classmates – so we can move on to teaching and cognitive presences. (Garrison, Anderson, Archer, 2000)
- So students can form distinct impressions of others in the course – so students feel those they interact with are “real.”
- So students can form a distinct impression of me. I want them to know that I am “real” and that i am more than just their professor. I use the interview of my daughter to help them see me through her eyes. It helps them to seem me as multidimensional, and that i am not just what i do, i am also a mom, a wife, an artist, and i like chocolate! : )
The various commenting options can be used in a multitude of ways to personalize, add humor to, and to self-disclose within interactions. Interactions can be extemporaneous, ephemeral, conversational, or more formal or scripted presentations. Students can co-create the VT conversation by adding central images and commentary, or respond to instructor-created materials. Within a VT, interactions are enhanced with voice and the tone that comes with one’s own voice, which conveys a sense of personality to help students form distinct impressions of the instructor and their classmates. VT allows interaction that significantly supports building social presence and a sense of class community starting with the icons/avatars that represent one’s contributions, and by facilitating the use voice, video, tone, images, even the pen annotation tool, to create an environment that is a rich multi-sensory experience .