Reminder: Goodbye Voice Tools

Blackboard will discontinue the Voice Authoring tools on August 31, 2016.This set of tools includes Voice Authoring, Voice Board, Voice Podcaster, and Voice Email.

You can get all the whats and whys from our previous Goodbye Voice Tools post. Most importantly, if there is any content you wish to save, be sure to export it and save it to your computer before the end date. This tutorial will guide you through the process: Exporting and Importing Voice Authoring Content.

If you need assistance transitioning your content to other tools or archiving your Voice Authoring content, please email elis@lesley.edu. Remember the shut down date is August 31, 2016.

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Faculty Spotlight: Martha McKenna

Martha McKenna is a professor at Lesley University and the Director of the Creativity Commons. As part of her work to support creative exploration in teaching and learning across the university, McKenna is currently heading up a two-year grant-funded project called the Visual Literacy InFUSION Project. This cross-division collaboration aims to support faculty across the university in recognizing, promoting and evaluating non-traditional visual and media literacies in their classroom practice. As the project heads into its second year, we caught up with McKenna to see what role academic technology has played in the Visual Literacy project so far, and how it might intersect with the project’s goals going forward.

[eLIS]: The faculty involved in the Visual Literacies project are a diverse group from across the university, all with busy schedules and other priorities. How have Lesley’s academic technology resources helped to facilitate the project despite these challenges and lay the foundation for an authentic group collaboration?

[McKenna]: Academic technology played a critical role in connecting faculty across the university in the Visual Literacy InFUSION Project.  Through myLesley, we were able to create a learning community where communication was centralized, and where all resources were made available and easily accessible. We have also been able to capture all of our faculty’s activity in the community’s Blogs. The eLIS staff helped us think through how best to utilize myLesley, and helped us to adapt the tools to suit our unique purposes.

[eLIS]: What do you see as the biggest challenges that lay ahead as the Visual Literacies project moves into its second year and scales up to reach more instructors and classrooms across the University? 

[McKenna]: We are excited to move forward with the Visual Literacy InFUSION Project across the undergraduate schools. Since the Project encourages faculty to integrate text and image more creatively in their teaching and learning environments, faculty will naturally be expanding their use of digital resources in the classroom, and many could require exposure and training to support this evolution in their practice. We will also be counting on myLesley to help us reach and coordinate the efforts of greater numbers of faculty across the undergraduate schools.

[eLIS]: With the success of the project so far in a select sample of face-to-face classrooms, do you see potential for this work to impact distance education and online instructional practices at Lesley University? 

[McKenna]: The Visual Literacy InFUSION Project provides an opportunity for all faculty to think about how digital resources can expand the engagement of students in learning and expressing what they know through text and images using new media. This transformation away from text-centered instruction can only expand the way we look at online learning resources and delivery of instruction. And since our approach has students become active agents in their own learning through project-based assignments, it is perfectly suited to create new possibilities in Lesley’s online learning environments.

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Goodbye Voice Tools

Blackboard has announced that it will be discontinuing the Voice Authoring tools in myLesley. This set of tools include Voice Authoring, Voice Board, Voice Podcaster, and Voice Email.
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Why the Change?

The Voice Authoring tools are built using Java, a programming language that allows for the creation of interactive applications that can run within your web browser. Unfortunately, Java applications can also be a vehicle for malicious software and viruses. Web browsers therefore ask you if you want to allow the application run before it will do so, especially if you are in a password-protected site such as myLesley. The allow option in your web browser can often be very hidden or located in a different place in different browsers. Most people won’t even notice the allow option and will simply think the content or tool is broken.
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The end result is java applications such as Voice Authoring are technically quirky, confusing, frustrating and often just not worth the effort. Rather than redesign the tools, Blackboard has decided to discontinue them and partner with VoiceThread to allow the use of audio with images.

While not a direct replacement for Voice Authoring, VoiceThread does provide a new feature set to allow you to do more with your audio. To ease the transition, VoiceThread has put together a nice guide, How Does VoiceThread Compare to Voice Authoring, to help you conceptualize using VoiceThread in place of Voice Authoring.

 

When is This Happening?

Blackboard will officially discontinue access to the Voice Authoring tools on August 31, 2016. However, Lesley will lose access to these tools on June 30, 2016 when our license ends.

 

How can I save my Voice Authoring content?

You can export most of your voice content to your computer. This tutorial will guide you through the process: Exporting and Importing Voice Authoring Content. We recommend that you archive your content no later than June 15, 2016.

If you would like to reuse your voice content, you may import the audio files into VoiceThread or Kaltura.

 

Need Assistance?

If you need assistance transitioning your content to other tools or archiving your Voice Authoring content, please email elis@lesley.edu

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12 Days of Learning: Digital Storytelling

Atomic Learning has created the 12 Days of Learning, a series of articles designed to kick off resolutions to keep learning in the new year. We thought this was a great idea and have decided borrow (shamelessly steal) it and do our own. It’s Day 9 of our series and that means it’s time for digital storytelling.

Digital Storytelling is a way for students to create short stories using digital tools. These stories may include audio, video, images, and/or text. It is a way for students to demonstrate their knowledge about a subject in way other than writing a paper. The process of creating digital stories is often interdisciplinary requiring the use of research, analysis, planning, writing, media and technical skills to convey a story or content knowledge.

Getting started with digital storytelling in your classroom can seem intimidating. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources out there to help. The image below from the University of Houston’s digital storytelling site breaks the process down into steps. Visit their site for all the information on each step and check out the other resources linked below.

Digital Storytelling Resources: 
University of Houston Digital Storytelling
How to Design a Digital Media Assignment
Engage – University of Wisconsin, Madison
Media Commons – Penn State

 

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VoiceThread: New Ways to Comment

VoiceThread now offers new commenting options: direct replies, private replies, and threaded conversations.

Direct Reply to a Comment
If you are the owner or editor of a VoiceThread, may insert a comment directly after someone else’s comment on your slide, allowing you to help guide the conversation and give feedback directly to your participants.

VoiceThread Direct Reply

Private Reply to a Comment
The private reply feature allows you to start a private, two-way conversation with someone who has commented on a VoiceThread.  To start a new private conversation, or add to an existing one, click on the private reply button inside a person’s comment window.

VoiceThread Private Reply

Threaded Commenting
If you own a VoiceThread, you can turn on threaded commenting in your VoiceThread settings.  This allows your participants to start a separate comment thread that branches from the main conversation.  To start a new threaded conversation, click on the threaded comment button inside a person’s comment window.

VoiceThread Threaded Commenting

For an overview of these features, please see VoiceThread Commenting or watch the video overview:
VoiceThread Commenting Video ScreenshotReady to try the new commenting options? Log in to VoiceThread using your myLesley username and password.

 

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