(see the voicethread)
It was too late yesterday when I suddenly remembered an old blog post from my kindergarten colleague, Gail, about her difficulties last year with using Voicethread in the classroom with all the laptops up and running. And so, I found out what Gail had earlier discovered: the wireless “pipes” soon became overloaded with data flows as my four classes of 21 students podcasted their voice into our Voicethreads of Vehicles of the Future. The browsers had trouble loading, and to top it off, our Microsoft virus/spyware protection was downloading updates in the background.
We survived, by adapting. I channeled students to my two computers, and when one of the laptops was working, we shuffled students around. I had a secondary activity waiting for them, so mostly, they all had something to do even if they were waiting. But I was running to and fro like a madman teacher, fixing problems and helping students with Voicethread, which they had never used before but liked it.
The result is that MOST of the students in three of the classes were able to complete their podcasts on Voicethread, and the remaining ones I will find a way to get to today, I hope.
The funny, and good, thing is that they didn’t seem too flustered with all the problems. I kept my calm demeanor (sort of), and came up with solutions as needed, and they mostly just went right with it. In the past, I have used Voicethread by having students come up to me and podcast with me working the computer. I didn’t want that for this project. I wanted the tools in their hands.
(On a sidenote for teachers considering voicethread: I used my teacher account to create the four voicethreads — for four classes — and then had a secondary Voicethread account for students to use. I did this so they could not edit the thread beyond adding voice or text, and because we don’t have student email. I then embedded the thread at our blog, which is where they worked from. This system seemed to work fine.)
Next time, I am going to do things a bit differently. I will have them pair up on a single computer, alternating, so that we can reduce the flow of data on our wireless server. Yes, there will be a “next time,” because I try real hard not to let the technical difficulties get in the way of using a tool that brings out the creative voice in my students. We’ll figure it out.
Peace (in the threads),