I stumbled across a new site called Earfl. It allows people to tell stories via cell phone (in 3 minute increments) that are posted online. They can be posted publicly or privately. In addition, you can add photos in the Earfl online account. One of my favorite aspects of this site (unlike audio-recording sites such as Voicethread, Gabcast, Gcast...etc) is that you do not need an account to get started! Just dial the Earfl number and tell your story (this is great for outside of class activities when you want students to document but do not have Internet access to set up an account).
I think this is a great resource for students/teachers who would like to do easy digital storybooks but do not have easy access to microphones and/or would like their students to get the audio portion of the assignment completed outside of class. Additionally students on field trips could call in their stories and then add photos later on (they could also use their mobile cameras to send pictures into their Flickr accounts). For example students who go to a historical village, could describe their experiences in the Noah Webster house, then go online and get images (via Flickr--which works with Earfl or other Creative Commons resources) and insert those images into their Earfl story. The stories can embed to websites, YouTube, and blogs too! Another great use for this site would be for students to use it as an oral diary or i-search project that spans over time. For example students could document their learning in a class by calling in once a week a story about their learning, then adding pictures associated with their learning. By the end of the school year, students have documentation of their learning and how far they have come over time.
There is also a nice group feature on Earfl, where you can join a group (and call in your story to add to a collection of stories, such as the Iowa Caucus story example below) or create your own group where people can join in and talk about their stories (again similar to Voicethread, and you do not have to have an account!). The stories play individually (which makes it easy to click and play the ones you are most interested in hearing). Also each individual story (while on the group page), has it's own embed code.
The last feature that I think is useful for classroom learning is the map feature. Here is one example of a map of stories about "tributes". When you set up a group, you automatically get a link to a Google map. Every time someone calls in to Earfl to add to a story to your group, the story (along with any images) will automatically be placed on the Google map. Therefore you can see exactly where in the world the stories are coming from! This might be a great feature for classes studying foreign languages or different concepts around culture and sociology.
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