This post describes some very early thinking about a trial that forms part of the PLEs@CQUni project. The trial seeks to support the use of Voice Thread to allow students to share research posters they prepare as part of the CQUni course PSYC13021, Special Topic in Psychology. The aim here is to summarise the project and describe the first steps.

What is voice thread?

According to them, Voice Thread is media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in 5 different ways – using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam) – and share them with anyone they wish. They can even be exported to an Archival Movie for offline use on a DVD or video-enabled MP3 player.

The most interesting aspect of what VoiceThread is, in terms of this trial, is encapsulated in the following quote

A VoiceThread allows group conversations to be collected and shared in one place, from anywhere in the world.

The following embedded voice thread is the example.

How is it going to be used?

The existing assignment for the course is for the students to prepare a research poster. The type of poster traditionally seen at academic conferences. A poster summarises a research project, usually in the form of a couple of posters, and is then presented in a poster session in some big hall. Conference attendees file past, stop and view those that interest them and talk with the poster presenters.

The special topic course, this term, is looking at the topic “Public health: A psychologist’s playground” and the offering’s synopsis is

The health of an individual constitutes a central foundation of what this person can achieve. Yet, everybody’s health is influenced by the environment and society in which they live. Public health is described as the art and science of preventing disease and promoting health through efforts focused on individuals, local communities or entire nations. Many efforts aim at (1) changing individuals’ and groups’ attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours, (2) at providing interventions to support individuals and groups in preventing disease and promoting their health, and (3) at providing the evidence base for the need and efficacy of any Public Health activities.

Psychological theories and tools form an important part of Public Health and psychologists are called to continually contribute to the development and improvement o f Public Health measures. This course will provide an introduction to Public Health, critically examine key issues in Public Health, and explore the roles and remits of psychologists and other professionals in this field.

Why use VoiceThread?

Well 89.7% of the students in this special topic are external students. They are likely never to set foot on a CQUni campus. Traditionally, external (AKA distance education, flexible learning) students would prepare their poster, probably as a powerpoint, and submit it for marking. There might be some audio narration attached.

The only feedback the students would get would be from the markers. In fact, the markers would become the only folk who ever see the research posters.

The aim for this offering is to use VoiceThread to host the students’ posters so that people out on the Web will be able to see the posters and hopefully comment on them. It’s also hoped to run a session on the Rockhampton campus of CQUni later in the year and invite local psychologist to view the research posters. The posters will be shown on stations that will allow the attendees to view the VoiceThread posters and also to make comments on the posters.

Hopefully this will increase the feedback the students receive on their posters and perhaps provides greater motivation.

What needs to be done

We need to provide some support to the students about how to use voicethread to share their research poster. To reduce the perception of difficulty and wasted time they will initially perceive this approach to have. To help them see that we’re not simply using technology for technology’s sake.

Simple, eh?

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