“Don’t you wonder sometimes
‘Bout sound and vision”
I’ve always looked up to David Bowie for his originality and individuality and now I can safely say that we have something in common- we both have been wondering about sound and vision.
I don’t need to look too far back in my WordPress posts to find my reflections on using the Voice Thread recording tool within the Blackboard suite of tools. Last year I had used Voice Thread for an online assessment asking students to record an audio reflection on the implications of their learning on their future decision-making. I gave my feedback in audio form too.
It was a real mixed experience. It was challenging for some students to navigate what I had thought was relatively straightforward technology but at the back end there were some glaring limitations. The tool loads super slow for larger classes (I had 150 students) plus there is no timed release of grader feedback. This latter point is a particular irk of mine as ethically I want to release all grades to all students simultaneously. However, I’m also mindful of the need for students to develop speaking /audio skills given this is the way most will communicate in practice. Who ever met a nurse that only communicated by writing everything down? Of course, they talk and listen a lot!
I don’t want to repeat all my previous blog post – but I guess I am writing here, while trying to work out why I am persevering with this tool, especially this semester with around 200 students. It is all rather like childbirth – “Never again” at the time but the bad memories soon forgotten. Having spent a lot of today setting up Voice Thread for this semester’s students some of the frustration has returned.
With thanks to the learning technologist I have been able to address the loading issue by allocating students to smaller groups, but then in class today they asked what are the groups for, how do I know what group I am in, etc. In reality it is all behind the scenes work that they don’t need to worry about but when you are encouraging critical thinking, it is perhaps to be expected and for many, the smallest technological issue can suddenly seem a huge barrier.
I think incorporating sound/audio/voice is really important. Many students see that too:
“I liked the use of mixed media in the assignments. Recording audio samples and putting them into our portfolios was challenging but a useful and practical skill… very in touch and relevant” (Student, Sem 2 2017)
It is good to feel challenged – both as a teacher and as a learner. Having vision means that sometimes the harder road needs to be taken. Having the students respond in written form would have taken almost no time at all to set up. Students would have been very familiar with what to do and grading would have been straightforward. By adding sound to the assessment I am adding what some may argue are unnecessary extra burdens for myself and students alike. Yes, some will moan, and at times I will too, but to learn and to grow means we must challenge ourselves and sometimes take the harder route.
All there is to do now is wait for my students to submit, hope all my set up has been successful and the majority of them see benefit in trying something different.
“I will sit right down, waiting for the gift of sound and vision”
Songwriters: David Bowie- Sound and Vision lyrics © O/B/O Apra Amcos