Ben Papell and Steve Muth are fed up with the number of school districts across the US that are bocking VoiceThread. Even though VoiceThread was one of the most popular Web-tools with educators in 2007, it has also been unavailable to many teachers because of district or school filters that block all free websites or sites that allow for user contributions or that allow students to surf to unapproved content... or for whatever reasons. All Ben and Steve know is that they've been getting a steady stream of emails that say something like: "I love, love, love VoiceThread! I use it at home, but I can't use it in my school. It's blocked! Is there any way you can help?"
Ben and Steve are not the first developers of tools like VoiceThread to run into problems like this. They may be the first to come up with a solution that not only solves the blocking problem, but potentially makes their product even more attractive because it will give students of all ages free (to them), unlimited access to their own VoiceThread accounts that teachers can manage without using email addresses. Here are some of the details that Ben and Steve provided:
The Ed.VoiceThread network is a worldwide community where safety is built upon a foundation of accountability. All users are known users, responsible for their content and behavior. Access is restricted to K-12 educators, students and administrators, and all content is created exclusively by registered members of the community. Web services offering free accounts are blocked in many school districts because of child online protection policies, and are not eligible for federal eRate monies. For this reason, there are no free Ed.VoiceThread accounts and student email addresses are not required. Educators must pay a one time $10 verification fee to become a member of the community, with no recurring costs.
Schools will also be able to pay a monthly fee (about $100), which will make it possible for all teachers in the building to use VoiceThread with their students.
Learn more about this innovative plan on this webcast. Ben Papell and Steve Muth joined us once again to explain changes they are making to address access problems in US schools.
Ed.VoiceThread goes live on Thursday, January 17. Get the inside story on this podcast.