New changes coming to VoiceThread

about_voicethreadBeginning January 1, 2009 VoiceThread will no longer allow multiple simultaneous logins to the same account.  The good folks at the VoiceThread blog explain the rationale and acknowledge simultaneous log ins are convenient but they also pose security risks and could be in violation of COPPA.

I’ve have used both class accounts and an individual VoiceThread account for various class projects.  Some issues about using identities with just one account are outlined on the VoiceThread blog:

  • Comment Moderation does not work because the Identities are simply a different ‘face’ for the educator account. VoiceThread will instantly show any and all new comments to any of your Identities.
  • Because the students are logged in as you, they must be directly supervised as they work and record their comments because they can delete any comment made by any other identity, including the educators, and they can even delete entire VoiceThreads with just two clicks (note:  this HAS happened to me!)
  • When you delete an identity you will delete all of the comments and content that the identity has made in the past, which means that next year you will either have to delete all of your prior years students identities and the work they made, or create a brand new account each year.

During my VoiceThread workshop presentations I have always shared the pros/cons of using one account and having multiple identities.  The new system will take some planning and getting used to but I don’t think it will limit my enthusiasm for VoiceThread and the value it adds to my curriculum.

A subscription to the secure K-12 ed.voicethread network gives every student their very own account (student email addresses not required) and students can then choose which classmates to collaborate with – but the projects are still viewable by the teacher.

Some other features of the student accounts on ed.voicethread are:

• Create a portfolio of up to 15 VoiceThreads
• Maintain a media library up to 250 MB
• Unlimited commentary – voice / text / webcam
• Upload archival mp3 files as commentary
• By default cannot add contacts or send invitations to users who are not members of Ed.VoiceThread
• By default cannot view content unless it’s created or vetted by an Ed.VoiceThread member

Update: There are still free educator accounts available but you don’t have access to the secure ed.voicethread network and you can’t have simultaneous logins.

Some NEW features to VoiceThread that were added this past month are:

  1. Copying/cloning your VoiceThreads – Now you can copy an existing VoiceThread so that it can be reused with a different group of people or to just create a backup copy.
  2. iPod/iPhone Exports
  3. And the one I am most excited about – Microsoft Office 2007 file compatibility.

One final note.  VoiceThread is creating a digital library of outstanding educational examples – not quite the same as the examples that are posted on the VoiceThread 4 Education wiki – but more detailed articles explaining the process of using VoiceThread and samples that can be replicated.  I’m thrilled that Steve Muth has asked me to be part of this project and am currently submitting some of my own examples.  Click HERE to submit your project and possible earn $20 worth of archival exports.

As a company, VoiceThread has been very responsive to teacher suggestions and input and it is the first tool I recommend to teachers who are looking for ways to have their students respond and collaborate on projects.  Wes Fryer says it best:

“…I’ve found VoiceThread to be the single most powerful and beneficial web 2.0 site and technology for students and teachers to use. It is not secret I am a BIG fan of VoiceThread. Any educator interested in differentiated instruction and safe digital collaboration should be as well.”

Updated:  Full Disclosure –  I am not a paid employee of VoiceThread.

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