In selecting appropriate assessments, faculty and instructors must consider not just the range of possible options (oral presentations, lab activities, essays, multiple choice exams, etc.) but how the assessments are aligned with the course and module level objectives, the nature of the content, and how that content is taught or disseminated. Some technological approaches to teaching have assessments tools integrated in them. For instance, the use of Kaltura quizzes to enhance student engagement with asynchronous lessons.
VoiceThread is another teaching tool that has assessments built into its design. VoiceThread replaces text-only discussions with interactive lectures and supports Universal Design for Instruction principles. This online platform allows instructors to put digital media such as images, video, and documents at the center of an asynchronous conversation. Instructors can choose among several available graded assignments “types.” Students can be assessed by a “Watch” assignment (requires students to watch all slides and all comments in a VoiceThread presentation), a “Comment” assignment (requires students to make a comment on a VoiceThread presentation), and a “Create” assignment (requires students to make a VoiceThread presentation using video, images, document, or PowerPoint slides).
While the assignment feature has been available for a while, VoiceThread has recently implemented a major overhaul and redesign of the entire experience. They added a number of new features, implemented a tighter integration with Blackboard, and provided streamlined workflows for the user. The following are examples of improvements:
Updates to Assignment Setup for Instructors
- Content organization – The assignment controls all VoiceThread content associated with it
- Workflow – Streamlined creation process for building a VoiceThread within the assignment setup process
- Settings – Instructors can dictate the playback settings for all VoiceThreads when students are completing a “Create a VoiceThread” assignment type
Updates to the Student Submission Process
- Dynamic checklist of requirements for completing an assignment
- Published due date, grading style, and submission status
- Clearer messaging about whether an assignment is already submitted successfully
Updates to Grading for Instructors
- Ability to view a full summary of the assignment, including description, type, requirements, and grading style
- Three status categories of students (Unattempted, In progress, and Submitted)
- Can grade students who are “in progress” even if they haven’t submitted yet
- Graded students are moved to a separate tab in the interface to keep the “to-grade” list cleaner
- After a student’s assignment has been graded, instructors can go back and “un-submit” their assignment so they can try again
For more information about the New Assignments features in VoiceThread, you are encouraged to watch this brief video. For a more comprehensive review, here is a recording from a recent New Assignment Features Workshop.