An iPad app for A Level Psychology

ATP Today reviews apps for Psychology learning and teaching

This post was inspired by an article in ATP Today (the Association of Teacher’s of Psychology members magazine; February 2013), written by Emma Weaver, which covered a top ten of iPad apps for the A Level Psychology classroom.

The (free) app that caught my eye particularly was Voicethread, an app that allows the user to upload an image or video and invite comments (comments can be left in audio, video or text form) that make up the so-called “voice thread“. In the article the author suggests using this app to create recap tasks to be completed outside of class for use in the next lesson.

Using the app

voice threadBasically you add your image, slides or video, then the app allows you to invite comments from targeted users (your class for example) by emailing a link to the website (they do not need the app or an iPad). They might, for example, video themselves making their comment (which they can edit until they happy with it) or record themselves speaking their contribution to the discussion about the posted content. The Voicethread website has a really helpful video explaining it’s use and how to create a Voicethread discussion and the app itself is pretty easy to use.

Reasons to use this app (or something similar)

Here are a two reasons I think this is worth playing around with.

Increasing participation

Class discussion can sometimes be dominated by a few students who are keen to be heard but if you really want to hear from everyone, without putting those who are less confident on the spot, Voicethread might be an answer. As the comment submitted can be edited and polished (increasing confidence) until the individual is happy with their contribution – unlike class comments which cannot be taken back and refined once made – an individual who is not usually keen to share in class might benefit from being able to prepare. Sharing a students Voicethread comment in audio form allows their voice to be heard in the classroom and gives them the opportunity to make a comment they feel good about and elaborate or justify further in class.

Make lesson starters more productive

If you want to discuss a statement, question or thunkstyle conundrum (search this blog for “thunks” for some examples for the Psychology classroom) ask students to discuss this first using Voicethread. Play the resulting comments at the start of the lesson and take the discussion further. As students will already have done their initial thinking and contribution “in the cloud” you should get to the really developed bit and the teaching points you wanted to be made in class much quicker. You could also do this with a debate topic in order to avoid lengthy use of class time by using the Voicethread as the starting point for further debate and for students to show evidence that they have prepared outside of class time.

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