Category Archives: VoiceThread


Bronx EdTech Showcase: Developing a hybrid class with a technical advisor

Today I had the pleasure of presenting at the Bronx Educational Technology Showcase on the panel Two Heads Are Better than One!: Forming Creative Partnerships in Online Learning.

The theme of the panel centered on developing a hybrid class with a technical advisor. I had the good fortune of working closely with Alyson Vogel to transition my class to hybrid (and then push it further!) over the last two years. My part of the presentation centered on how I worked with Alyson to develop a hybrid format for my bilingualism course, and the continued integration of online tools even after the original transition to a hybrid format. I shared the following example.

I have integrated online tools like VoiceThread and BlackBoard’s discussion board to achieve a state of “flow” and continuity within a unit. This started simple in the first semester of the transition, by recording VoiceThread lectures and creating comprehension questions which students answer and submit for attendance credit. The next semester, I added discussion board, along with deadlines and a rubric, so that the class could stay connected despite our relatively few in-person meetings. Here’s what our unit on code-switching looked like this semester:

  1. Students gather data by recording a conversation where two bilinguals are talking using both of their languages.
  2. Students read a chapter about code-switching from the textbook and watch a VoiceThread presentation consisting about the various phenomena related to code-switching. They complete and submit associated comprehension questions.
  3. Students answer questions from a worksheet to analyze their own data gathered in step 1. They support each other on Discussion Board to try to identify examples of key terms from their own recordings.
  4. Before the in-person class, I wrote down great examples from the worksheets and discussion board comments, as well as examples that students struggled with.
  5. During the in-person class, we were able to move quickly through all of the technical definitions since questions, clarifications, and examples had already been addressed online. We briefly defined and gave an example of each term as a review, before moving on on to using those terms to identify and describe code-switching phenomena from real-life examples. Students were given time to discuss their own analyses in pairs.
  6. After the in-person class, students once again supported each other on Discussion board, and prepared their analyses for final submission.

At first, students felt overwhelmed by the number of steps, but since each unit follows a similar format, it became intuitive to them. It helped me support the students every step of the way, and let them work in a slow-thinking environment. I’m looking forward to continuing to experiment with models of online and hybrid teaching!