I received an email today from an Oklahoma K-12 librarian and friend, who was sharing my son’s VoiceThread book review of “Eragon” by Christopher Paolini this week at school. She was concerned because some of the student commenters drew on the images (virtually of course) using the VoiceThread annotation options. This VoiceThread-based book review is one of 67 included on the “Great Book Stories” project wiki.

I looked over the comments, and moderated over thirty new ones which have been added (primarily by young students) in the past few months. In my experiences moderating VoiceThread comments, I have found it is VERY rare to receive negative or inappropriate comments, but they DO happen. For this reason, in my “Technology 4 Teachers” class this semester I’ve recommended that students make sure VoiceThread comment moderation is turned ON for all their sample VT projects. I don’t know this for certain, but it appears many people who comment on VoiceThreads like this may be commenting with audio on a website for the first time. While it might be wonderful if every one of these comments was ground-breaking in the insight it offers, of course that is not the case and it’s not the way creativity works more generally. I don’t have a problem with students playing and experimenting with annotation tools in appropriate ways (like drawing on a VoiceThread story image as they comment) because playing and experimenting is how we learn. If we never get to play in a sandbox or on the beach, how can we ever learn to build a sand castle?

Castelo de areia / Sand castle
Creative Commons License photo credit: Márcio Cabral de Moura

There can be no creativity without CREATION. How are you empowering your students today to be constructive CREATORS with digital media? VoiceThread is great platform for doing this.

To see more examples of grade level and content-area specific VoiceThread digital stories, check out the VoiceThread 4 Education wiki as well as the official VoiceThread Digital Library. If you are having school network content filtering / firewall issues with VoiceThread, this forum post can help.

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  • http://www.BryanPerson Bryan Person

    Wesley: Your point about moderation is right on, and one that I raised with educational PR professionals at last week’s TSPRA 2010 conference in Austin. We talked about the importance of setting up moderation standards/guidelines for education blogs, Facebook Pages, etc. Ultimately, the fear of inappropriate content is far worse than the reality, but setting up those standards in advance offers both peace of mind for the host organization/classroom/district and a clear “rules of engagement” for userrs/commenters.

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