(Cross-posted from Playing with Media)

The free VoiceThread for iPad app has been available for awhile, but this afternoon was the first opportunity I’ve had to play with it at length. Rachel, my 8 year old daughter, just finished reading “Christmas in Camelot” (a Magic Treehouse book) this weekend and was VERY excited to tell me all about it. It’s been a few years since she last made a VoiceThread book report, so since the VT iPad app is now available I figured this would be a perfect chance to put it through its paces. We had fun and were successful making the VoiceThread book report. Here are a few of our lessons learned.

LESSON 1: THOROUGH PLANNING SHEET

This advice comes as no surprise to writing teachers. It’s essential to help kids / students create a thorough planning sheet for a digital book report before they go to a tablet device or computer. Kids often want to find pictures or record their voices first, but those steps always come AFTER planning what you’re going to say. This was the planning sheet Rachel prepared today.

LESSON 2: SAVE FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS IMAGE PAGES IN NEW TABS

I helped Rachel used the Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-Only image search page to find extra pictures for her VoiceThread. She took the initial cover photo, but needed three more pictures. There are now over 30 million photos in the most permissive Flickr CC image category available online! We readily found great images to use for a “tree house rope ladder,” a “Christmas wreath,” and a “king crown.”

Flickr Creative Commons Image Search on iPad

After we found an image online, I had her open it in a new tab on the iPad. She did this by holding her finger down on the image and choosing OPEN IN NEW TAB. Next, she clicked the ACTIONS tab above the image and chose VIEW ALL SIZES. After choosing a large version, she held down her finger on the picture and chose SAVE IMAGE. This saved a local copy to the iPad photo roll so we could import it later on VoiceThread. I had her leave the image webpage tab open, however, so I could copy the URL / web links to the image pages and put them into the VoiceThread as text comments later for proper attribution.

LESSON 3: BEWARE LARGE NUMBERS OF IPAD PHOTOS & VIDEOS

If you have hundreds of photos and videos on your iPad, as we did when we started this book report project this evening, you might run into problems. Every time we tried to add a photo to a new VoiceThread from our camera roll on the iPad, the app crashed. I asked my 13 year old to help troubleshoot this, and he identified the fact that we had almost 400 photos and videos on the camera roll as the possible problem. This proved to be the case. Alexander saw that photos from other camera roll albums imported to VoiceThread fine, but the camera roll images didn’t.

390 photos & videos on the iPad camera roll

He deleted, with my permission, about 250 screenshot images our family members have created over the past six months. This brought the number of photos on the iPad photo roll from 390 to down to 138. This did the trick, and the VoiceThread app imported photos from the camera roll fine without crashing.

Down to 138 photos and videos on the iPad

LESSON 4: USE AN EXTERNAL MICROPHONE FOR GREAT AUDIO QUALITY

Rachel used our iRig microphone to record her audio narration for each slide of her iPad VoiceThread. We LOVE using an external microphone with the iPad: It does a great job filtering out background noise and creates an exceptionally clear recording. This has been true for every iPad app we’ve used for recording. The iRig works immediately when you plug it in, it’s not necessary to make any settings changes.

VoiceThread on the iPad: Christmas In Camelot

Full disclosure: IK Multimedia has donated a new iRig microphone for me to give away this month in a drawing on SHARE: Playing with Media. All you need to do to enter the drawing is share ONE example of student work (with parent and student permission, of course) using the contribute form on the site.

Have you played with the VoiceThread iPad app yet? What are your impressions and recommendations? I really like how you can moderate comments directly on the app. We have a backlog of comments on many past VoiceThreads our family members have created, like “Getting a New Haircut” in 2006. I think access to the iPad app will make moderation of those comments a much faster process!

VoiceThread Comment Moderation on iPad

I added Rachel’s book report for “Christmas in Camelot” to the “Great Book Stories” wiki collection of VoiceThread book reports!

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