Steve Muth and Ben Papell :: Co-founders of VoiceThread, LLC

Meet Steve Muth and Ben Papell, co-founders of VoiceThread, LLC.  VoiceThread is located in Boca Raton, FL and filed as a limited liability company on January 1, 2006.  If you are interested, here is a 53 minute interview with both Steve and Ben from Mr. Media conducted in December, 2008.  The interview is excellent for our purposes here in ETEC 522 as it contains many details regarding how and why VoiceThread started and flourished.  Most of the information in this post came from listening to that interview.

Other than the fact that Steve and Ben have co-founded VoiceThread, I have not been able to find and verify any other biographical information about them.  This is due, perhaps, to the fact that VoiceThread is still a small company and generally not very well known outside of the education market.  Steve does have a Linkedin profile but there is little info there. Ben’s Linkedin has even less info.

Steve Muth

Ben Papell

VoiceThread is a web 2.0 site that allows users to upload images, video, or documents into a linear slideshow.  Then, comments can added to each slide by the author, as well as any other viewer of the VoiceBook.  Comments can by recorded in many formats: by voice (via microphone or telephone), text (via the keyboard), video (via a web cam), or preexisting audio file (need to upload).  The result is a conversation that can be built around media.  Additionally, there is a ‘doodler’ which allows you to draw on the slides as you talk so that you highlight certain areas.  It has become a favourite tool for teachers and students because of it’s flexibility, reliability, social nature, and general coolness.

The original value proposition came from the simple idea of a group of people getting together to look at a photo album together.  The album becomes the focus of the conversation.  During that social activity, everyone in the room can comment about a photo and respond to each other. People take turns when they talk and back and forth conversation takes place.  Steve noticed that there was no online tool available in the mid 2000s to capture that entire idea in one Web 2.0 tool so they created it.

VoiceThread comes with no instructional design built in.  Teachers must learn how VoiceThread works, including all of the affordances that comprise the tool, and then, how it can be integrated into their plans for student learning.

Take a look at this example.  It is a VoiceBook created by a young student to chronicle her self-reflection and goal setting. (Source) It was used as part of a student lead conference with her parents.  In the interview, Ben talks about another example in which a ‘Mathcast‘ VoiceBook that has 75,000 views and over 5,000 comments on a single Mathcast that explains student thinking when learning algebra.



Posted in: Week 04: Entrepreneur Bootcamp