Journal of Nursing Education

Educational Innovations 

Applications of VoiceThread© Technology in Graduate Nursing Education

Mary K. Donnelly, DNP, MPH, FNAP, ACNP-BC, ANP-BC; Karan S. Kverno, PhD, APRN, PMHNP-BC; Anne E. Belcher, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN; Lindsay R. Ledebur, BS; Linda D. Gerson, PhD, RN

Abstract

Background:

Online graduate courses provide opportunities for faculty to use technology and digital applications to enhance student learning and learning environments. In nursing education, as we become increasingly dependent on technology, it is important to ensure that both faculty and students add digital literacy to their repertoire of knowledge and skills. VoiceThread©, one type of Web-based digital application tool, allows students and faculty to verbally communicate and collaborate asynchronously.

Method:

This article discusses the use of VoiceThread technology in graduate nursing education and offers four examples of VoiceThread teaching methods: personal introductions, issues discussions, case presentations, and the elevator speech.

Results:

Student participation in VoiceThread assignments is evaluated using leveled rubrics. A poll of the students in one of the graduate courses showed high overall satisfaction with VoiceThread in the online classroom.

Conclusion:

Strategies for effective use of VoiceThread technology to enhance student engagement and learning are recommended. [J Nurs Educ. 2016;55(11):655–658.]

Abstract

Background:

Online graduate courses provide opportunities for faculty to use technology and digital applications to enhance student learning and learning environments. In nursing education, as we become increasingly dependent on technology, it is important to ensure that both faculty and students add digital literacy to their repertoire of knowledge and skills. VoiceThread©, one type of Web-based digital application tool, allows students and faculty to verbally communicate and collaborate asynchronously.

Method:

This article discusses the use of VoiceThread technology in graduate nursing education and offers four examples of VoiceThread teaching methods: personal introductions, issues discussions, case presentations, and the elevator speech.

Results:

Student participation in VoiceThread assignments is evaluated using leveled rubrics. A poll of the students in one of the graduate courses showed high overall satisfaction with VoiceThread in the online classroom.

Conclusion:

Strategies for effective use of VoiceThread technology to enhance student engagement and learning are recommended. [J Nurs Educ. 2016;55(11):655–658.]

VoiceThread© is a Web-based discussion and presentation tool that can serve as an online learning space for both face-to-face and distance learning courses. This technological tool allows students and instructors to verbally communicate and collaborate asynchronously. VoiceThread can be linked to learning management systems, such as Blackboard©, to offer more engaging, collaborative formats for graduate students. Creative applications of VoiceThread in nursing education include digital storytelling with group discussions (Price, Strodtman, Brough, Lonn, & Luo, 2015), structured discussions of controversial topics (Johnson, 2013), and video or media review and critique. To create a VoiceThread, course instructors can upload images, documents, videos, or Power-Point® slides, add narration and vocal commentary, share or embed the product in an online platform, or export it for viewing. VoiceThread technology is a dynamic platform to promote collaborative learning that engages students in interaction and idea exchanges and promotes the development of shared meaning in an experience (Benner, Sutphen, Leonard, & Day 2010; Ching & Hsu, 2013).

Improved digital literacy extends to students as well. Although students are universally comfortable with online social media and computer technologies, they are not necessarily familiar with the technologies used in online education (Thorell, Fridorff-Jens, Lassen, Lange, & Kayser, 2015). Participation in an online course can be isolating for the student and, without knowing or seeing fellow students, can result in trepidation about sharing (Reilly, Gallagher-Lepak, & Killion, 2012). Redesign of online learning spaces to allow for collaborative design and active learning is a priority for nursing education (Skiba, 2015).

A shift in the role of faculty is being driven by the technologies that students use in their daily lives. These technologies extend to ways to learning. As we become increasingly dependent on technology, it is equally important to ensure that faculty and students add digital literacy to their repertoire of knowledge and skills. Awareness of the growing importance of digital literacy in today's academic environment may coexist with hesitancy on the part of some faculty in assessment, adoption, and development of these important competencies. Rapid growth in higher online education programs (Allen & Seaman, 2011; American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2007) requires that faculty develop and maintain skills for using technology in the online environment (Yoder & Terhorst, 2012).

In the online learning environment, it is essential to help students to become successful learners. This article will summarize strategies for the effective use of VoiceThread to enhance the collaborative learning environment for graduate nursing students.

Methods of Teaching With VoiceThread Technology

Nursing faculty and instructional designers orient students to the use of VoiceThread and help them with the creation of presentations within the tool using instructional manuals and video tutorials. Instructional manuals for basic use and setup and the creation and sharing of presentations include step-by-step directions with accompanying visual images of the tool. In addition, video tutorials provide narration and screen capture of the step-by-step processes. Faculty also facilitate VoiceThread discussions by posting introductory and summative comments on the topic or discussion.

Personal Introductions

To reduce student anonymity and facilitate online interaction among students, VoiceThread can be used for personal introductions in the online orientation to graduate courses. Students are typically instructed to post a 2-minute introduction that includes their name, the degree or certificate they are pursuing, their area of nursing practice, and their goals for taking the specific online course. Each student selects an avatar or photograph as an identifier throughout the course (Figure). Individually posted presentations can be accessed by clicking on the identifiers. With VoiceThread introductions, students not only get to know each other, but also find new ways to network and share resources.


The images in this VoiceThread are photographs taken by one of the authors (L.R.L.).

Figure.

The images in this VoiceThread are photographs taken by one of the authors (L.R.L.).

Discussion of Issues

Students respond positively to the opportunity to listen to how faculty pose a question about an issue or trend in nursing education and then share their perspective and experience. Students consistently express appreciation for the experience of hearing one another address an issue, as it broadens their perspective and gives ideas and insight. They often respond to one another, as well as to the faculty. Some sessions require that students post an article to the discussion board to support the position they have expressed in the VoiceThread.

Case Presentations

Professional practice discussions are stimulated through the use of Voice-Thread case presentations. For example, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner students develop and present three types of cases: an initial evaluation and treatment plan, an individual cognitive–behavioral therapy session, and a group therapy session. Included in the individual evaluation and therapy presentation are a multigenerational genogram, to discuss family history, and an illness time line, to discuss past and present psychiatric histories. Case presentations are limited to 10 to 15 minutes and a maximum of 15 PowerPoint slides. Students are instructed to summarize the most important aspects of their presentation with well-crafted sentences and, on the last slide, to post a relevant question for discussion.

Elevator Speech

The public and health professionals are not well informed about the roles and responsibilities of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) (Donald et al., 2010). The purpose of the elevator speech assignment is to empower students to educate influential stakeholders on the role of the APRN by developing and delivering a 2-minute elevator speech in a pleasant, yet professional manner. Students are given these instructions:

Imagine you are waiting for the elevator at an office building. The doors open, revealing your local state senator. Recognizing the senator, you step into the elevator, quickly extend your hand and introduce yourself as a nurse practitioner (NP), a nurse executive, a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), or an advanced practice nurse in public health. The senator smiles politely, but blankly: “How nice. You are a nurse-what?” Explain your role to the senator in two minutes or less.

Results

Evaluation of Students

Leveled grading rubrics (Table), completed by faculty and students, are used to evaluate student presentations and discussions. The rubrics reveal that students embrace the complex nature of the topics and that their learning experiences were enhanced. In addition to gaining knowledge on a specific topic, it was found that using VoiceThread also promoted professional skills, including presentation, peer feedback, communication, and deportment.


Sample of a Leveled Rubric: Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) Elevator Speech

Table:

Sample of a Leveled Rubric: Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) Elevator Speech

Evaluation by Students

Students are routinely involved in the peer review of fellow students' VoiceThread presentations. Instructions for the VoiceThread assignment include the number of peer reviews due, the length of time allowed for a peer review, and the type of feedback required (e.g., review of strengths and areas for improvement or response to posted discussion questions). VoiceThread video format can be encouraged for the peer review assignments to personalize the feedback.

As part of the program evaluation for the online Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program, a cohort of eight postgraduate students was asked to tell what they thought about the use of VoiceThread in the online classroom environment.

Seven of eight students responded. Their comments include:

  • I like the ability to see and hear my classmates [because] we are in an online format.
  • It felt more personal, and hearing other people speak did not make me feel like a distance learner.
  • I live the furthest away from the rest of my classmates, and it maximizes my participation in class.
  • It has facilitated the interaction within the constraints of our nationwide physical distribution and time zones that allowed us to share and receive information expeditiously but clearly.
  • It is a great way to learn about each other and to learn from each other.
  • It has forced me to be concise and present the most salient points of the respective topic.

Conclusion

There are challenges and benefits to ensuring that our students enter the workforce prepared with critical competencies in technology. Promoting collaborative interaction in our online courses will enhance the learning environment and promote student learning. VoiceThread is easily accessible, cost-effective, applicable across most Web-supported courses and adaptable to a variety of learning settings.

Based on our experiences across a variety of advanced practice courses, we recommend the following strategies for effective use of VoiceThread technology in the online classroom.

  • Develop a low-stress technology environment with adequate information technology support.
  • Orient early and often.
  • Introduce and reintroduce the assignments.
  • Engage in a variety of learning activities.
  • Set clear expectations in the syllabus and course materials.
  • Give clear feedback using leveled rubrics.
  • Use a Webcam when possible for both faculty and students.
  • Use graphics to illustrate issues.
  • Start the course by having students introduce themselves on VoiceThread.
  • Use peer reviews to encourage collaboration and professionalism.

References

  • Allen, E. & Seaman, J. (2016). Online report card: Tracking online education in the United States. Retrieved from http://onlinelearningsurvey.com/reports/onlinereportcard.pdf
  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2007). Alliance for Nursing Accreditation statement on distance education policies. Retrieved from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/education-resources/distance-education-policies
  • Benner, P., Sutphen, M., Leonard, V. & Day, L. (2010). Educating nurses: A call for radical transformation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Ching, Y.-H. & Hsu, Y.-C. (2013). Collaborative learning using Voice-Thread in an online graduate course. Knowledge Management & E-Learning, 5, 298–314.
  • Donald, F., Bryant-Lukosius, D., Martin-Misener, R., Kaasalainen, S., Kilpatrick, K., Carter, N. & DiCenso, A. (2010). Clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners: Title confusion and lack of role clarity. Nursing Leadership, 23, 189–210. doi:10.12927/cjnl.2010.22276 [CrossRef]
  • Johnson, J.M. (2013). Facilitating a structured controversy using VoiceThread. The Journal of Nursing Education, 52, 720. doi:10.3928/01484834-20131119-12 [CrossRef]
  • Price, D.M., Strodtman, L., Brough, E., Lonn, S. & Luo, A. (2015). Digital storytelling: An innovative technological approach to nursing education. Nurse Educator, 40, 66–70. doi:10.1097/NNE.0000000000000094 [CrossRef]
  • Reilly, J.R., Gallagher-Lepak, S. & Killion, C. (2012). “Me and my computer”: Emotional factors in online learning. Nursing Education Perspectives, 33, 100–105. doi:10.5480/1536-5026-33.2.100 [CrossRef]
  • Skiba, D.J. (2015). On the horizon: Implications for nursing education. Nursing Education Perspectives, 36, 263–266. doi:10.5480/1536-5026-36.4.263 [CrossRef]
  • Thorell, M., Fridorff-Jens, P.K., Lassen, P., Lange, T. & Kayser, L. (2015). Transforming students into digital academics: A challenge at both the individual and institutional level. BMC Medical Education, 15, 48. doi:10.1186/s12909-015-0330-5 [CrossRef]
  • Yoder, S.L. & Terhorst, R. II. (2012). “Beam me up, Scotty”: Designing the future of nursing professional development. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 43, 456–462. doi:10.3928/00220124-20120904-78 [CrossRef]

Sample of a Leveled Rubric: Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) Elevator Speech

CriteriaExemplary (30 points)Competent (24 points)Developing (18 points)Points Earned

Brief presentationPresentation of two slides or less within a 2-minute time frame and is conversational and engaging.Presentation lasts more than 2.5 to 3 minutes, uses some jargon, or is partly read.Presentation lasts more than 3 minutes, uses jargon, and is read.

Exemplary (35 points)Competent (28 points)Developing (21 points)

Identification of key pointsContent includes competencies and scope of practice of the APRNs.Content includes some of the competencies and scope of practice of the APRN.Content includes competencies and scope of practice not specific to the APRN.

Exemplary (35 points)Competent (28 points)Developing (21 points)

Accuracy of informationContent is accurate and presented in a format that aids the listener in consolidating the knowledge. (This can be creative!) References are appropriate and from identified sources.Content is mostly accurate and presented in an educational format. References are appropriate and from identified sources.Some of the presented content is inaccurate; or some of the references are not relevant sources.
Total100
Authors

Dr. Donnelly is Instructor, Dr. Kverno is Assistant Professor and Track Coordinator, Post-Graduate PMHNP Program, and Dr. Gerson is Assistant Professor, Department of Acute and Chronic Care; Dr. Belcher is Associate Professor and Office of Teaching Excellence Co-Director; and Ms. Ledebur is Instructional Designer, Instructional Design Team, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, Baltimore, Maryland.

The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

Address correspondence to Karan S. Kverno, PhD, APRN, PMHNP-BC, Assistant Professor and Track Coordinator, Post-Graduate PMHNP Program, Department of Acute and Chronic Care, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, 525 N. Wolfe Street, Room 457, Baltimore, MD 21205; e-mail: kkverno1@jhu.edu.

Received: May 03, 2016
Accepted: July 06, 2016

10.3928/01484834-20161011-09

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