VoiceThread

VoiceThread has a couple of unique uses: It can host interactive, narrated presentations on the web, and it can be used as an audio and video-based discussion forum. It's fully supported by CTEL.

What can I do with VoiceThread?

VoiceThread allows you to create presentations with audio or video narration. You can add many types of media to your presentation’s slides, including images, documents, and video. Once you’ve shared your presentation, you can allow viewers to add comments to its slides through audio, video, or text. VoiceThread is a web-based application, so the presentations you create can be played on the web, whether your viewers have a computer or mobile device.

Lecture Delivery

Record course lectures as narrated presentations.

Discussion Forums

Host & participate in an audio-based discussion forum.

Assignments

Have students create their own presentations.

Using VoiceThread in your class?

Add a link to CTEL’s VoiceThread Guide for Students to help them get started and connect them with support resources.

How do I start using VoiceThread?

VoiceThread isn’t supported by the University of Maine system, but you can register for a free account at VoiceThread.com. Give it a try, and if you decide you want to use it in your class, request a single instructor license from CTEL (just email CTELhelp@maine.edu). With a single instructor license, you can create a group for your students, which allows them full access to VoiceThread.

What do I need to know about using VoiceThread?

This tutorial covers the basics of creating a VoiceThread and setting up a group for your class.

Set up a VoiceThread group for your class
You should create a new group for your class in VoiceThread each term if you’re using it to host discussions or student assignments. It ensures that students’ work remains viewable only to students enrolled in the course.

  1. Click your email address in the top-right corner of your VoiceThread home page to open its dropdown menu, then click Groups and Contacts. A pop-up window will open.
  2. Click the +Group button at the top of the window. Textboxes will appear.
  3. Enter a name for your group (required) and a description (optional).
  4. Click the Create Group button. Header image options will be displayed.
  5. Select a header image for your group, or upload one of your own.
  6. Click the OK button. You’ll return to the Groups and Contacts window, and a link for your group will appear.
  7. Click the Copy Link button to the right of the textbox that displays your group’s link.
  8. Go to your course site in Blackboard, and add your VoiceThread group’s link to its menu.
NOTE
Students should register for a VoiceThread account with their Maine.edu email address rather than a personal one. Also, they will likely experience problems if they try to join your class group through an existing VoiceThread account under a non-Maine.edu email address.
Create a VoiceThread presentation
Creating a narrated presentation in VoiceThread is a 3-step process:

  1. add media (files, images, video, etc.),
  2. record comments and annotations,
  3. share your presentation.

The short video, which was created by VoiceThread, walks you through all 3 of these steps, and you can find more detailed information on creating a presentation in VoiceThread in the Creating section of its support site, including importing copyright-free images and video from external sources like Flickr, Khan Academy, and others.

Share your VoiceThread presentation
You’ll need to consider your presentation’s playback and sharing settings before you share it with students. Then, you can link to or embed your presentation within Blackboard.

1: Check your presentation’s playback settings.

You’ll find all sorts of options in your presentation’s playback settings, including ones for restricting how students can comment on your presentation, limiting the length of audio comments, and more. To locate a presentation’s playback settings,

  1. Click Options on the top-right side of any page when you have a presentation open for editing.
  2. Click Playback Settings on its dropdown menu.
Screenshot showing how to access a presentation's playback settings
Step 1: Adjust your presentation’s playback settings.

2: Publish your presentation.

By default, all VoiceThread presentations are set to “private,” which means it’ll only be visible if you share it with a group or an individual person via email. You’ll need to change your presentation’s publication status if you want someone outside of your class to be able to access it, and even if you select the “Anyone can comment” or “Anyone can view” option, it won’t show up in search results. Someone will need to have the direct link to your presentation to find it.

To find your presentation’s publication setting,

  1. Click the Who Has Access tab in your presentation’s sharing settings.
  2. Click the box with a dropdown arrow under the “Publishing options” heading to display its menu, and select an option other than Private.
  3. Click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the window.
Screenshot showing the location of publishing options for your presentation
Step 2: Options for publishing your presentation

3: Select the right options when you share your VoiceThread with a group.

You can allow students in a class group to view, comment, and even edit your VoiceThread presentation. To find these settings,

  1. Click the Secure tab in your presentation’s sharing settings. (Group sharing settings are listed under this tab, separate from general sharing settings, which can be found under the Basic tab.)
  2. Select the appropriate group from your list of groups on the left side of the window.
  3. Select or de-select icons in the “Allow them to…” section to set students’ level of access to your presentation. (Both view and comment are selected by default.)
  4. Click the Share button. Your presentation will now be listed in your group’s page.
NOTE
If you’re sharing your VoiceThread presentations only within a group you’ve created for your class, remember that you’ll need to make a copy of your presentation each term, share it with the new class group, and update the links or code within your Blackboard course.
Screenshot showing options for sharing a presentation with a group
Step 3: Options for sharing a presentation with a group

4: Embed or link to your VoiceThread presentation in Blackboard.

Linking is pretty self-explanatory, but you can alternately paste an embed code for your presentation in any textbox with an editor in Blackboard, including a content item, content folder description, discussion forum or assignment folder description, or announcement. Then, students can view your presentation right within Blackboard.

To copy your presentation’s link or embed code,

  1. Click the Basic tab in its sharing settings. A link will display in this window when it opens, and you can copy it if you only want to link to your presentation.
  2. Click the Embed link on the left side of the window if you’d rather embed your presentation.
  3. Click the Copy Embed Code button. You can now paste this code into Blackboard. (See the Quickguide section below if you need instructions for embedding media in Blackboard.)
Screenshot showing the location of a presentation's embed code
Step 4: Copying the embed code for your presentation

Quickguide to Embedding Media in Blackboard

  1. Go to where you want to embed your presentation in Blackboard, i.e., a new announcement, content item, discussion thread, etc.
  2. Click the HTML button on the bottom-right side of the “Message” textbox’s toolbar. The “HTML code view” window will open.
  3. Paste your presentation’s embed code in this window (i.e., click CTRL + V on a PC or Command + V on a Mac).
  4. Click the Update button at the bottom-right side of the window. The window will close, and a blank box, which is a placeholder for your presentation, will appear in the “Message” textbox. Once you submit your thread, your presentation will appear in place of the blank box.
Screenshot showing the location of the HTML button in a Blackboard textbox's editing menu
Step 2: Opening the HTML window in a textbox in Blackboard
Screenshot demonstrating how to paste an embed code into Blackboard
Steps 3 & 4: Pasting your presentation’s embed code in Blackboard
Copy your VoiceThread presentation for a new term
If you’re having students comment on a VoiceThread presentation, you’ll want to make a new version of it each term so that students in your new course won’t see comments added by students in earlier terms. Fortunately, VoiceThread makes it easy for you to make a copy of a presentation without including its comments.

  1. Hover over the presentation you want to make a copy of in your VoiceThread account, then click the copy icon, which looks like a pair of files. The “Copy VoiceThreads” window will open.
  2. Give your presentation a new title. By default, your presentation’s original title preceded by “Copy of” will be listed.
  3. Select an option in the “Which comments would you like to keep?” menu:
    • Select Include only my comments if you recorded narration for your presentation.
    • Select Don’t include any comments if you only responded to comments added by students.
  4. Click the Copy button at the bottom of the window. It will close, and the new copy of your presentation will appear on your main VoiceThread account page.
NOTE
If you copied your VoiceThread from within a group’s page, your new copy won’t appear on that page because copied presentations are not automatically shared with any groups. You’ll need to locate the new copy of the presentation in your main VoiceThread gallery, then share it with the appropriate group.

Where can I learn more about VoiceThread?

VoiceThread provides a wealth of online information that you can consult if you want to learn more about its features. You can also meet with one of CTEL’s learning designers if you’d like more personalized assistance.

Video Tutorials

VoiceThread has dozens of tutorial videos in its YouTube channel.

Text Tutorials

If you prefer reading text tutorials, visit VoiceThread’s Support site.

Privacy

Learn how VoiceThread manages information on its Privacy Policy page.

Accessibility

Voicethread accessibility information is listed in its Support site.

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