I've been hearing a lot about VoiceThread over the past year or so. Supposedly, it was something like a PowerPoint presentation crossed with Twitter, with a little bit of FaceBook thrown in. VoiceThread presents a very simple slideshow and allows viewers to leave comments along the margins of each page. These can be written, audio or even video comments, which theoretically makes it a very powerful communication tool. It seemed like a creative way for students and the outside world to carry on a conversation about a particular topic, but it's been a bit daunting to me.

After six months or so of tiptoeing around it, I decided to give VoiceThread a real try. In my Food Magnet, my students periodically do "tastings" of new foods - discuss them, rate them, make notes in their tasting journals, etc... - and I thought that would be a pretty good forum for them to use this tool.

For our first time out, I had my students test various folk remedies for eating a too-spicy pepper. I used my digital camera and my new Flip Video camera to take pictures and video of them trying different remedies. I used my TuneTalk to record their observations, which I edited into audio files later.

For this first VoiceThread adventure, I had each student identify him/herself before each comment, so I would know who was who later on when I edited the sound clips. A couple of the students used their last names, so bleeped them out while I was doing the editing. In the future, when students are recording and posting their own comments, that won't be necessary.

Here is our first attempt:

This seems like a promising start.

I'm going to have the students in my Magnet create their own avatars and have them post their own comments on the foods we taste from now on. VoiceThread allows them the choice of using a microphone to record their comments on the spot, upload soundfiles (like the ones I used in this slideshow), type their comments or even phone them in on their cellphones.

Time will tell, but for now, I'm going to provisionally love this new toy.