Ian Althouse GRD ’17, a Ph.D. candidate in Spanish and Portuguese, was named the Grand Prize winner of the 2014-2015 Online Education Innovation Grant Competition in April of 2015. His project, “Creating an Interactive and Multimodal Reading Module for Second-Language Learners Using Web-Based Collaboration Software,” integrated the use of the VoiceThread media platform into traditional reading assignments.
He describes his project as “an online round-table discussion in which Spanish language students collaborate virtually and on their own time by recording video comments on the VoiceThread media platform. Their reading assignments thus become collaborative projects, not solitary activities, as they read, listen, and speak in Spanish together outside of class.” Students reported: “[I] enjoyed hearing other students’ interpretations and questions,” and, “The VoiceThread activity was a fun way to speak at home, which was a new context for speaking in Spanish.”
Now in its third iteration, the project has seen some changes. This fall, VoiceThread streamlined the threading of digital commentaries, facilitating the asynchronous dialogues between students. Ian applied for and was awarded a class set of iPads for the fall 2015 semester through the Yale iPad Class-set Loan Program. The distribution of iPads ensured that all students were working with the same basic set of tools and apps.
In future iterations of the project, Ian would like to think about increasing instructor interventions and disseminating strategies to build online, asynchronous learning environments to other teaching fellows and language instructors at Yale. Ian has given a Tech Talk at the Center for Language Studies on his project and on using VoiceThread.