Update: Here’s the link to the Voicethread Ning. Sheesh, can’t believe I left it out.

Wes Fryer (SpeedofCreativity.org) moved our Voicethread Reneges? conversation from the comments to the VoiceThread Ning. This move offers a fresh start and seeks to engage the Voicethread community at large in how to best use what features will endure the adjustment of the free Educator Voicethread account.

Now that simultaneous logins feature is gone, the question is, will there ever be a feature available on the free Educator VT account that allows for students to login to work through a teacher’s account?

Unfortunately, the only option remaining to teachers may be to subscribe to Ed.VT…unless this conversation can tease out other possible options.

Wes writes:

VoiceThread has recently announced that free accounts will not be permitted to have simultaneous logins open at the same time. Miguel Guhlin blogged about this last week, and got a good conversation going– others are also concerned about the implications of this for classroom teachers using a single VoiceThread account for multiple students.

Miguel has posted a survey for VoiceThread users on this issue too— this is likely a thread of conversation of interest to most or all of our members here in this VoiceThread Ning.

My summation, which I pray is accurate, is as follows:

Wes, I have to agree with Lee–there is confusion about the terms. I had never heard of identities until sometime in the last 2 weeks, when teachers I know were asking for help. Then, I read Colette’s post about the change in multiple simultaneous logins.

This is a feature that IS used, but VT has chosen to discontinue it citing security concerns and sharing that it just isn’t the best way to use VT. However, best practice or no, “safe” or not, it was a feature that teachers exploited. That feature was available for free and to get similar functionality, teachers will now have to pay for Ed.VT. Was VT transparent in their dropping of a free feature that forces free VT education account owners to their commercial service?

Steve Muth, owner of VT, interpreted the initial blog entry that asked that question as innuendo (which was not the intent of the author). Steve may have felt that it challenged his integrity because it suggested the possibility that VT had used security, best practices as an excuse to remove a feature that was useful to some free VT educator account users. The blog entry asked, “Voicethread Reneges?” was this intentional or inadvertent? Steve sought to ensure that users understood this was inadvertent consequence of a positive move.

Another concern is that VT didn’t do enough–except for an email and a blog entry–to notify users of the change.

In short, there was a lot of smoke in the comments but no real heat or fire. VoiceThread continues to offer an excellent service but users of simultaneous logins will have to consider other ways of logging students in. And, the heart of the conversation is exactly how this change impacts teachers and students.

Brenda–in the comments–points out that “I would like it if VT would let us sign kids up using the gmail hack or mrsmuench+student1@gmail.com. Then each student could have their own account but still not have an email address.” Steve denies this as a workable solution because it doesn’t meet the security concerns.

The question is, will there ever be a feature available on the free Educator VT account that allows for students to login to work through a teacher’s account? It’s clear that some teachers definitely want this but lack the funding to get Ed.VT in their situation.

So, the question to be answered now isn’t whether VoiceThread Reneged? by removing a feature from the free education accounts it granted to educators, but what teachers can actually do with their students using Voicethread now that this feature is gone?

Fortunately, I never encouraged the use of simultaneous logins in my free, CC-SA-NC-Attrib print handout. But what will teachers who used it do now?

Thanks Wes for moving this from my blog to this VoiceThread Ning. That way, all my bandwidth won’t get eaten up…oh wait, I use blogger (wink and a smile).

Take care,
Miguel Guhlin
Around the Corner-mGuhlin.org

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