I know Voicethread has been around for a while and I’ve wanted to use it for ages but for one reason or another I never got round to it. Well, last week I decided it would be a perfect way to round off our advertising unit by first of all evaluating some TV adverts and then evaluating our own creations at the end of the week.
The Initial Set Up
It was really easy to set up an free account by registering. I then found some adverts I wanted to use on youtube, downloaded them (to get round the school filter) and then had to upload them on to Voicethread. Voicethread does take videos in a variety of formats which you can find out more about here. When it came to upload the videos I went into create and pressed upload. This told me that if I wanted to I could upload multiple files at once – great! Time saved! However, I found that once I’d uploaded and went to MyVoice (where all your Voicethreads are supposed to appear) only one appeared. When I went back to create the rest had gone – argh! I had to upload each one individually to make it work. I don’t know if I was doing something wrong or if it was a Voicethread glitch but if you can do it, its not blatently obvious to the uninitiated.
(I’ve since realised that Voicethread had put the 7 individual videos into one, with arrows at the bottom to scroll between them. However, I wanted them all separate so the second way of uploading was more suitable)
Once I had created my Voicethreads I realised that I didn’t want the children logging in with my personal gmail account so I also set up an account for my class through our class email. The really good thing with voicethread is that with one email account you can set up lots of identities with different avatars (under the arrow next to your email in the top right, click on My identities) so I set up one for each of the children in my class so their comments are identifiable.
I then shared the voicethreads I had created on my personal account with the class account by clicking on the menu button of each voicethread icon and then choosing share. Again, I did this one by one but I’d like to know if there’s a way of doing batches so it’s quicker.
I was going to get the children to log directly into Voicethread with the class account and work from there but in the end I decided to take the embed code for each video and put it into our blog instead, 1) because the children already know the blog address and 2) I didn’t want any of the children accidentally deleting any of the videos while they were being used.
The good thing with Voicethread is you can choose the level of security that the videos and comments have so the comments can only be seen if you have the log in details. I showed the children briefly how to use it (they loved the fact they could video and talk!) and then they were away. The only problem we had with all using it at the same time was the noise level in the room, meaning recording was more difficult. Luckily I had a TA who could take groups of children a couple at a time to somewhere quiet so they could do a video recording but I’m not sure how to sort this out with a whole class otherwise. I was really surprised when I went in later to look/listen/watch the comments that none of the children had been silly either, they had got straight on with what they’d been asked and there were no silly noises or faces or giggling (which I expected a certain amount of as it was their first time using it).
Unfortunately we didn’t get to use it again at the end of the week as we had a problem with our new computer system downloading video files in a format that movie maker can’t handle so they couldn’t edit their bits of advert together and I couldn’t work out how to fix it 😦
What I thought
Give it an hour to play around with and work out how it really works and then it’s easy peasy. Once the user identities are set up then it’s really quick – I know next time it won’t take me more than a couple of minutes to add the video and embed. I will definitely be using this again now that I know what I’m doing!