This is a guest post by Educator and VoiceThreader, Thushara Ari Gamage.
As a researcher, identifying an asynchronous tool to design and implement an intercultural online learning project between two primary schools in Sri Lanka (year 4) and Australia (year 1) was important. VoiceThread was chosen to design and implement the case study for the following reasons. First, it had to accommodate a large number of students as the schools in Sri Lanka have an average of 40 students in a classroom. Next, the teachers needed to use a variety of media to design and implement three learning tasks to promote spoken English in the Sri Lankan classroom and writing skills in the Australian classroom. Lastly, the online learning tool needed to be secure, for ethical reasons, as the participants were young learners. The VoiceThread Single Educator License satisfied all these requirements for 72 students to communicate during a school year!
The project commenced with the students being paired in a 2:1 ratio and their names being used as the titles. Then, each student’s name and image were added to the Single Educator VoiceThread account, to provide each student with an online space to communicate during the project. Next, the topics were matched up between the two curriculums between the coordinating teachers to integrate the project into the schools’ existing curriculums. Due to ethical reasons, the VoiceThread cannot be shared. However, the table below describes the sequence of each of the 23 VoiceThreads.
Therefore, the teacher in the Sri Lankan classroom was able to provide the students with an opportunity to speak in English using pre-recoded video comments and web cam comments. The teacher in Australia used the project as a stimulus to encourage students to present neat handwritten slides and edited text comments. Hence, VoiceThread was a useful asynchronous tool to design and implement an intercultural learning project to target two different linguistic learning outcomes within each classroom.
About the Author:
Thushara Ari Gamage is a learning designer and online learning facilitator based in Sydney. She is registered as a Curriculum Writer/Reviewer at the NSW Government Standards Authority (NESA) for English and Information Technology (Primary). Her research interest is in designing and implementing online learning projects between primary schools. A list of papers presented and published, including a review on VoiceThread, during her research journey at Macquarie University can be viewed here.