VoiceThread is now a member of the InCommon Federation. This greatly simplifies Shibboleth authentication integration with colleges and universities already members of InCommon, which includes the majority of Research-I Universities in the United States. This should allow for faster deployments for Shibboleth authentication, with much less work on the University / Identity Provider’s end. Thanks to Penn State University for sponsoring our InCommon application.
We are pleased to announce that we are now in open beta with our first Moodle assignment module. This module provides a clean, easy to use student and teacher interfaces for submitting, viewing and grading a VoiceThread. The module is compatible with Moodle 1.9.x and requires either our Embedding or Authentication Moodle modules for configuration support. For the duration of the beta, we only support one Moodle instance with one VoiceThread Manager account.
This module only works with accounts that have VoiceThread Manager (Business Manager, Higher Ed Manager, College, School, District, etc); also, the VoiceThread account must match the scope of the Moodle instance. For example, a departmental subscription cannot use this module with a University-wide Moodle instance. If you would like to join our beta program, please contact us.
For larger accounts (districts, universities, etc), VoiceThread can integrate with your own authentication or Single Sign On (SSO) system, including using Moodle as a Single Sign On provider. We support Microsoft’s Active Directory, most LDAP implementations, and several standard SSO products, as well as Moodle 1.9.x with our VoiceThread SSO block. Whether or not VoiceThread uses your authentication, all user content is still stored on our servers, and all user interaction (other than login, if using SSO) is still with our servers.
To help ensure the security of your users’ data, we do have some specific requirements for LDAP, AD or SSO integration. If you would like to discuss authentication integration for your organization, pleasecontact us!
The VoiceThread Accelerator is a high performance content distribution and caching appliance that can provide a tremendous improvement in VoiceThread performance for certain network configurations. In particular, if you have excellent connectivity within your organization, but limited downstream bandwidth from the Internet at large, the Accelerator might be a good fit for your organization. Pricing depends on the number of bundled accounts; please contact us for more information.
As many of you are aware, we have a Moodle embedding module. We’re now looking to kick our Moodle integration up a notch, and need your feedback! What are the top three things you would like VoiceThread and Moodle to be able to do together? We’re already looking at ideas from assignment modules to single sign-on, and need your feedback! Please send us your thoughts.
We have upgraded some of the software involved in Office type document conversion. You should see smoother imports of Office 2007 format files in particular. Note that this only affects freshly uploaded files; if your PowerPoint slides weren’t perfectly pointy, you will need to re-upload them. As always, we recommend you keep Office documents simple for the best VoiceThread experience.
You spoke, and we listened. One of our most requested features was the desire to be notified when comments are left on one of your VoiceThreads, without having to actually check VoiceThread (we all already have enough things to check).
One thing people do check regularly is email. So, we decided to create an email notification system that sends a “Daily Digest” version of all of the comments on your VoiceThreads, from the last day. With a quick visit to your My Account page, you’ll see a new menu item called, Notifications. From here you can quickly turn off and on these daily new comment email notifications.
We are planning to do more with notifications – perhaps more control on when you are notified, perhaps notified in ways other than email. This feature was largely driven by the excellent feedback we’ve received, so please continue to speak to us.
As part of the new Media Browser, we’ve rebuilt our Flickr import feature to make it much faster and most importantly to enable the search and import of images with a Creative Commons License. As with the images from the New York Public Library, we will automatically insert a link back to the original web address of the image. We hope this makes gathering content faster and easier.
Our most requested feature of the last year is now live and ready for beta-testing. If you are the creator or editor of a VoiceThread you can now reorder the comments by moving your mouse over any comment segment on the timeline beneath the VoiceThread. Just hold down the shift key while over the timeline and then click-drag to move a comment segment to another position. This long-overdue feature will allow you much greater control over the quality of your conversations. We’ll be adding more advanced elements soon, so please let us know what you think.
Finally, please continue to share your great work in our VoiceThread Library. The submissions continue to impress as well as educate others on best practices when using VoiceThread. Thanks so much for all of your help developing and sharing them.
We’re very happy to announce that over 700,000 historical images from The New York Public Library’s Digital Gallery are now freely and instantly available whenever you’re creating a VoiceThread. Our new Media Browser (located in the Upload menu when creating or editing a VoiceThread) allows you to search or browse these primary source materials – maps, photos, drawings, paintings, posters and more, and then import them directly into any VoiceThread. Links back to the original location of the images on the web are automatically inserted to make citing and attribution easier for you and your students.
We’ve also created a unique VoiceThread portal at nypl.voicethread.com where you can find and make copies of VoiceThreads created by the amazing staff of the New York Public Library. These Learning Modules include expert commentary explaining the background of the images and provide a starting point for further exploration and use of these source materials in the classroom.
A few months ago we added the ability for you make copies of your own VoiceThreads and now you can let others make a copy as well. This major new feature allows something we’ve wanted for a long time, the development of private and public libraries containing reusable VoiceThread Learning Modules. So, if you’ve created a great VoiceThread that was successful for you, please share it with the community publicly, or just with those in your organization, company, district, or university. When you are editing your VoiceThread just click ‘Playback Options’ in the bottom left of the screen and then check the box ‘Allow others to Make a Copy’.
VoiceThread has been recognized by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) as one of The Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, a list of ‘tools and resources of exceptional value to inquiry-based teaching and learning.’ We’re very honored to be recognized by this organization and community, and fully support the vision they’ve set forth in the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. If you’re looking for the language to describe the proper role of technology in education, you can find it within this great document.