VoiceThread - Instructor Guide

An Instructor Guide to Creating, Building, and Sharing a VoiceThread


Getting Started with VoiceThread

A VoiceThread is a collaborative, interactive, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos. It allows people to navigate through the pages and leave comments in many different ways: using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, or video (via a webcam).  VoiceThread has two distinct advantages for classes that are communicating and collaborating across counties, countries or continents:

  1. VoiceThread is Asynchronous: That means that users can work on and enjoy VoiceThread presentations at any time—even if their classmates are sleeping across the country. VoiceThread will allow you to play back recorded comments in the order they were left by other, allowing you to watch the entire conversation unfold, in a short amount of time, even if the comments were recorded hours apart.
  2. VoiceThread is Engaging: Sometimes working with partners or writing responses on a traditional discussion board can be a little dry.  After all, email and discussion boards are nothing more than written text. VoiceThread gives users visual stimulus to talk about and has the distinct advantage of being able to actually hear one another speak. This makes digital communication through VoiceThread much more personal.

Log In to VoiceThread

  1. Access VoiceThread via the link provided in the Blackboard course site.
  2. You should be directed immediately to VoiceThread. Note: If you already have a VoiceThread account, you will see a Account Verification prompt that you need to merge your old account into the new JHU account.  Steps for how to do this along with browser related issues can be found here: http://uis.jhu.edu/voicethread

Setting up your microphone

You may be required to record audio narration to your presentation, so please be sure that you have a working microphone.  To do this, we highly suggest you use a USB headset microphone. If you have ever participated in a Zoom meeting or Adobe Connect session, the same mic will work for this. Please see the instructions linked to set up a microphone on your Mac (http://voicethread.com/share/416) or PC (http://voicethread/share/415).

You’re now ready to create a VoiceThread!  For instructions on creating a new VoiceThread, see below.

Creating a VoiceThread

Here’s how you create a VoiceThread:

  1. Gather the materials that you will be presenting (presentation, pictures, screenshots, videos) TIP: While you can use a PowerPoint file as your presentation, we have found that saving the presentation as a PDF file before uploading to VoiceThread often works better.
  2. Click Tools to see the list of tools available, and then click VoiceThread. (Note: If you do not see VoiceThread as an available tool please ask your instructional designer).
  3. Setup the details of the VoiceThread by giving it a title, a description. Once setup, click “Submit”.
  4. Select the type of VoiceThread you want to create: (Note: Assignment Builder will only show if “Enable Evaluation” was selected in previous step). If you are uploading a VoiceThread for students to comment on it is recommended that you select “Individual VT”. If you want students to create VoiceThreads then it is recommended that you select “Course View”, however please contact your instructional designer if you are unsure on the VoiceThread Setup.
  5. Click on the Create tab.
  6. Click on the Add Media area.
  7. Select the type of media that you would like to add. If you are uploading a presentation file, select My Computer and then locate and upload the file that contains your presentation. (Note: Each VoiceThread is limited to 50 pages/slides).

Naming & Saving Your Presentation

Select the link “Add Title and Description” and give the VoiceThread a descriptive name and select Save.

Adding Your Voice to the Presentation

Now you are ready to begin to record your voice to add to the presentation.

  1. Adding Your Voice – First select the Comment tab and then select the comment type you would like to use.
    VoiceThread allows you to add several types of comments to each page/slide of your presentation. You can add text comments, audio via computer microphone (most common), audio via a telephone (a number will be provided to call and record), or video and audio via a webcam. Since VoiceThread is all about using your voice, it is recommended that you use your microphone or webcam to comment on VoiceThreads, rather than text. Once a recording option is selected you will be prompted to record your voice. Once you are finished recording you will be given the option to save or cancel the audio recording. Continue to record audio comments via your preferred method for the remaining slides/pages of your presentation by selecting the next page that you wish to add comments to and repeating the above process. TIP: If you would like peer feedback, include a slide at the end of your presentation asking for your classmates to comment. Mention in your comment on your first slide that you’d like them to comment at the end.
  2. Saving your work – All slides that you upload to your VoiceThread are saved automatically. When you return to your VT Home page, you’ll see the VoiceThread you just created.
  3. Creating Group Presentations – If you are working in a group and your group members need to add slides or comments, you will need to share the VoiceThread with these individuals and be sure to give them edit abilities. (For more information, see tutorials at https://voicethread.com/howto/sharing-with-an-individual/)
  4. How to Edit a Presentation – You can edit any VoiceThread that belongs to you or to which you have been given editing rights.  Add more slides, remove others, and change the settings for a VoiceThread at any time.  All of those edits are immediately visible to anyone who has access to the VoiceThread. (For more information, see tutorials at https://voicethread.com/howto/editing-an-existing-voicethread-2/)

Sharing your VoiceThread

When your presentation is ready, it’s time to share it with the class. In VoiceThread you can securely grant access to members of your class by sharing with a VoiceThread Group.

  1. On the VoiceThread home page, click and drag a VoiceThread toward the left side of the VT Home page. Your Groups menu will pop open (if it’s not already open).
  2. Drop the VoiceThread onto the Group with which you’d like to share it. (You should see a group with the course number/name of your course)
  3. Review to make sure that the correct Group is selected in the drop menu, and select the button to give this group viewing access, commenting access, or editing access for your VoiceThread.
  4. Click “Share”.

Commenting on Other VoiceThreads

In VoiceThread, you can comment in several ways: using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, or video (via a webcam).

How to Add a Comment

To comment on a VoiceThread, you simply click on the comment button at the bottom of the VoiceThread, and then decide which type of comment you want to leave.  Click on the appropriate icon, and then follow the prompts to leave your comment. Since the VoiceThread is all about using your voice, it is preferred that you use your microphone or webcam to comment on VoiceThreads rather than text. 

Helpful Tips for VoiceThread Commenting

To be an active VoiceThreader, start by carefully working your way through a presentation.   While viewing pictures and listening to the comments that have been added by other users, you should:

  • Gather Facts:  Jot down things that are interesting and new to you
  • Make Connections:  Relate and compare things you are viewing and hearing to things that you already know.
  • Ask Questions:  What about the comments and presentation is confusing to you?  What don’t you understand?  How will you find the answer?  Remember that there will ALWAYS be questions in an active thinker’s mind!
  • Give Opinions:  Make judgments about what you are viewing and hearing.  Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Like?  Dislike?  Do you support or oppose anything that you have heard or seen?  Why?
  • Use the following sentence starters to shape your thoughts and comments while viewing or participating in VoiceThread presentations.  Comments based on these kinds of statements make VoiceThreads interactive and engaging.
    • This reminds me of…
    • This is similar to…
    • I wonder…
    • I realized…
    • I noticed
    • You can relate this to…
    • I’d like to know…
    • I’m surprised that…
    • If I were ________, I would  ______________
    • If __________ then __________
    • Although it seems…
    • I’m not sure that…
  • While commenting, try to respond directly to other viewers.  Begin by quoting some part of the comment that you are responding to help other listeners know what it is that has caught your attention.  Then, explain your own thinking in a few short sentences.  Elaboration is important when you’re trying to make a point.  Finally, finish your comment with a question that other listeners can reply to.  Questions help to keep digital conversations going!
  • When responding to another viewer, don’t be afraid to disagree with something that they have said.  Challenging the thinking of another viewer will help them to reconsider their own thinking—and will force you to be able to explain yours!  Just be sure to disagree agreeably—impolite people are rarely influential.

Additional Resources

Visit https://voicethread.com/howto/ for additional support and tutorials.