Creating Student Interaction and a Sense of Community in and Online Class
Many students have expressed feelings of isolation or disengagement in their online courses; and these feelings have been linked to high attrition rates in online courses (Kidd, 2013). Studies have shown that online courses that support a high level of student engagement lead to improved student satisfaction and academic success (Kidd, 2013; Howland, 2014). Instructors who create online courses with strong student-student, student-instructor, and student-content interactions tend to achieve greater student outcomes.
The Use and Benefits of VoiceThread to Promote Student Engagement
VoiceThread is an asynchronous collaborative tool that enables users to create engaging multimedia online discussions that foster a sense of community (Kidd, 2013; Howland, 2014). As a pedagogical tool, instructors can use VoiceThread to create online lessons that allow students to actively participate and partake in understanding online content. For example, an instructor can create a VoiceThread that contains an image and then ask students questions that require a voice response. After a student records their response, another student can then listen and formulate a voice or text answer. What occurs is an interactive asynchronous voice dialog. In her study, Kidd found that both graduate and undergraduate students felt not only a strong connection with the instructor and classmates when using VoiceThreads, but also experienced a feeling of greater involvement and a better understanding of course content (2013).
VoiceThreads can also be used to provide student feedback. Howland (2014) made a suggestion that a VoiceThread could be used to provide oral and written feedback within student assignments. By using voice and on screen notes, students experience the sense that a “real” person is providing the feedback (Howland, 2014).
Other Uses for VoiceThread include turning a power point presentation into an interactive lesson in an online course. An instructor can ask questions on particular slides and have students respond, critique, and debate each other. The interaction among students using their voices brings a sense of personalization and connectedness to the online course (Kidd, 2013).
VoiceThread is one tool that can be used to increase social presence and student interaction in an online course—a needed pedagogy to increase student satisfaction and retention in online education.
Howland, J. (2014). Let’s talk VoiceThread! Supporting communication in online courses. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education, pp. 856-861.
Kidd, J., (2013). Evaluating VoiceThread for online content delivery and student interaction: Effects on classroom community. Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, 1 pp. 2158–2162.