Thursday, March 25, 2010

Learning Without Boundaries

Preconceptions: Don't Get Stuck In What You Think You Know

For many students, prior knowledge learned in the home, at school, or through experiences in the community, intertwines and manifests in preconceptions that can become "learning blocks" inhibiting the ability to take in, conceptualize, and accept new knowledge. The global explorations of the Internet allow students a new depth of prior knowledge that encompasses a diversity of beliefs, sociological/economical/political realities and unique ideas. The student is given a new level of experience as the ability to access and apply new knowledge is taken to a new level of conceptual acceptance.

When introducing the student to the Internet world of knowledge, the teacher must not fall victim to these same "learning blocks" of preconceptions. The technical tools of the Internet must be shared, utilized and applied equally by everyone in an educational community. Ideally, this community consists of students, teachers, parents, administrators and anyone else who is a part of the learning experience.

A secure, teacher friendly, 2.0 tool that allows the student the ability to share images, videos and documents with feedback from voices from around the world is, an exclusive educational component of VoiceThread.

Imagine a student in Chicago sharing information and ideas with a student in Japan without leaving the four walls of her school. A teacher collaborates with other educators located in countries throughout the world. A soldier in Iraq speaks to a classroom in Idaho. Each group shares pictures and tells stories. Voices are heard across a cyber-global existence that introduces a new world of knowledge that can be interactively evaluated and connected and become a part of the lives of all involved.

The creation of a digital library is the fundamental concept that drives VoiceThread. At, this library is created by an education community comprised of students, teachers, professionals and parents. It can become a global collaboration of cultures, beliefs, information and ideas.

Commenting avatars communicate via a computer microphone, phone, text, audio file or webcam, and there is no softwall to install. Synchronized video doodling allows commentators to visually accentuate ideas and interpretations. For the classroom, voicethreads and comments can be secured and monitored on

The Educational Possibilities

  • Create

  • Collaborate

  • Practice

  • Explore

  • Solve

Digital stories and documents can be created in a collaborative, interactive environment established by the educator. Language skills can be practiced and documented through project designs viewed, interpretted and commented on by peers. Global exploration becomes real as places are visualized and the stories behind the pictures are given international voices. Math problems can be solved and science theories can be shared through a cyber-diversity of perspectives.

Professional Development and VoiceThread

From actual VoiceThread posted to the main site to those found in, teachers can find a cornucopia of lesson plans, research and tutorials. In addition, each VoiceThread has teachers' comments from throughout the world. There are excellent support materials found at VoiceThread Forum as educators post questions, problems and ideas to a moderator. This site provides help in the form of video tutorials, discussion posts and manuals.

Arts: A Natural Integration

"The arts, especially the visual arts, have often been regarded as a kind of discharge of personal expression, where expression refers to an emotional release through visual materials" (Eisner 232).

The personal expression released by a student in a VoiceThread presentation is done through a visual image. This image is created by visual materials that include paintings, drawings, photographs, videos and slides. The personal expression is heightened as the student's voice is added to tell the story, interpret imagery, present a concept, or vocalize other components of creative, critical thought.

This personal expression is presented to an audience comprised of a global stage as others are invited to view and share the experience of the visual materials and become part of the emotional release. The audience is encouraged to add to the story through equally personalized interpretation, conceptualization, and vocalization of creative, critical thought.

This interaction manifests in a collaborative effort that breaks down the barriers of preconceptions as prior knowledge is shared and authentically experienced. Concepts are changed through expansion of experiences and complexity of ideas as the learner becomes his own creator of a learning process that has allowed exploration beyond the prior knowledge of home and school and ventured into the community of an educational world.

All facets in this new learning environment connect, interact and collaborate. Core curriculum, the arts, and technology integrate with an end product of heightened critical thought that is conceived through the authentic expansion of experience.

To View my video on VoiceThread please go to my Youtube account at:\my_videos?features=mhw5

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