Saturday, July 19, 2008

Class 6 Another Look at Voice

Or "You don't know what you got 'til it's gone"

For four weeks we have used a mix of voice and text chat in each class. Voice has been used - in every class except the first - in the following ways.
  • Presenters have used voice (though we have had two presenters who have opted to use text only.
  • Small groups have opted to use voice during group activities
  • I have used voice to convey information, occasionally a student will contribute with voice. More often students contribute, ask questions and answer questions with text.
After a half hour of struggling to get the most recent class started with voice, I called off the fight. "Give it up," I said, "After all I prefer text anyway." To my surprise I really missed it. In its absence I noticed that voice has become helpful in some important ways.
  • Quickly conveying information - the half hour setback was only extended by texting the agenda (my too many activities for one day) and explanation of each activity
  • Maintaining group focus and control - My text did not stand out from the background chatter and helpful colleagial instructions passing between students. With voice I was able to say, "keep talking in the background with text, as long as you can focus up here on my directions." On two occasions I resorted to in all caps typing STOP TYPING to get everyone's attention
  • Conveying teacher tone - While I don't like to speak into a microphone of any kind, and I like less hearing my recorded voice after the fact, I do recognize that my teaching voice conveys warmth. Given my virtual shouting STOP TYPING I regretted the absence of my warm voice to convey that I was calling for attention but without anger.
  • Use of dual channels to promote student collaboration. When voice has worked I would often respond to a text question by asking someone in the group to text an answer, which enabled me to continue with my information or instructions. With text only, I actively discouraged people from chatting to and helping each other because it confused the thread that I was trying to maintain.
I still see many advantages to text only communication - for another post perhaps. But voice does have its place.

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