Using Voice Boards: pedagogical design, technological implementation, evaluation and reflections

Volume, Issue - Date: 
Volume 15, Issue 4 - November 2011
Elisabeth Yaneske, Teesside University
Briony Oates, Teesside University
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Voice Boards, asynchronous audio discussion, learning objects, peer-to-peer learning

 We present a case study to evaluate the use of a Wimba Voice Board to support asynchronous audio discussion. We discuss the learning strategy and pedagogic rationale when a Voice Board was implemented within an MA module for language learners, enabling students to create learning objects and facilitating peer-to-peer learning. Previously students studying the module had communicated using text- based synchronous and asynchronous discussion only. A common criticism of text-based media is the lack of non-verbal communication. Audio communication is a richer medium where use of pitch, tone, emphasis and inflection can increase personalization and prevent misinterpretation. Feedback from staff and students on the affordances and constraints of voice communication are presented. Evaluations show that while there were several issues with the usability of the Wimba Voice Board, both staff and students felt the use of voice communication in an online environment had many advantages, including increased personalization, motivation, and the opportunity to practice speaking and listening skills. However, some students were inhibited by feelings of embarrassment. The case study provides an in-depth study of Voice Boards, which makes an important contribution to the learning technology literature.