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VoiceThread FAQ

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VoiceThread is a web 2.0 tool that allows you to humanize interactions in an online environment. VoiceThread transforms stale, text-based discussions by infusing your content and conversations with human presence, just as if students were all sitting in the classroom together, but without scheduling a specific time to meet.

VoiceThread is a powerful tool that changes the way students learn and educators teach. VoiceThread:

  • Provides "untethered," on-demand participation for students and educators
  • Builds a stronger sense of community within classes
  • Removes logistical barriers of time and place from online learning environments
  • Offers accessible means of participation for anyone
  • Enhances understanding of visual concepts via multi-modal commentary with annotation

Educators have found many uses for VoiceThread, including:

  • Discussions
  • Presentations
  • Portfolios
  • Office Hours
  • Interactive Lectures
  • Flipped Classrooms
  • Group Collaborations
  • Video Assessment and Review
  • Asynchronous Review Sessions
  • Language Courses
  • Sign Language Courses
Penn State created this VoiceThread - Simply Speaking video [2:24] for their faculty. The video has a very good explanation of VoiceThread.


How do I setup a VoiceThread assignment in my course?

There are three simple steps to setup and use VoiceThread in your Brightspace course. They are:

  1. Adding VoiceThread to your course
  2. Setting up your VoiceThread link
  3. Grading student work
    (if you’ve created a graded assignment)

What are the four VoiceThread activity types?

After you have added VoiceThread to your course, you’ll need to decide what you want students to see when they click on that link. There are four VT activity types. They are:

  • Assignment Builder – Use this option to create a graded assignment for students to complete. You can require them to create a VoiceThread of their own to submit, to comment on a VoiceThread you’ve created, or simply to watch a VoiceThread start to finish.
  • Individual VT - Display any single VoiceThread that you have created. This option is the best way to create a VoiceThread discussion board or lecture. Students will not need to look through a collection of VoiceThreads to find the correct one; they will be taken straight to it.
  • Course View - Display the collection of VoiceThreads that have been shared with your course. Use this option when you want students to find and comment on each other’s work or if you want to allow students to review all course materials prior to an exam.
  • VT Home - Display all of a student’s VoiceThread content in a single view. This includes all VoiceThreads and all courses that belong to them. This option is useful if you want to create a simple portal into VoiceThread without directing students to any specific content.

More information can be found at the Setting up your VoiceThread link.

Note: You must use the Assignment Builder option if you want your VoiceThread assignment to be integrated with the Grade Book.

Can I change the VoiceThread activity type once I create the VoiceThread link?

Care should be taken when creating the VoiceThread link in Brightspace. It is not possible to change the activity type after the link has been created. What the instructor would need to do is delete the existing link, and then create a new link that points to the activity type they would like to use for the assignment (Individual VoiceThread, Assignment Builder, Course View, or VT Home).

How can I edit the VoiceThread assignment I created using the Assignment Builder?

You can edit a VoiceThread assignment that you created using the Assignment Builder by clicking on the three vertical dots on the right side of the VoiceThread assignment banner. Clicking on the three vertical dots will open the assignment options menu. From there you can edit your VoiceThread assignment options and the VoiceThread itself. This is the only place where you will be able to edit VoiceThreads created with the Assignment Builder.

edit VoiceThread

How can students view and comment on VoiceThread submissions made by their peers?

The Course View assignment type is a good option when you want students to find and comment on each other’s work or if you want to allow students to review all course materials prior to an exam.

To provide students with a way to comment on submissions by their peers:

  • Use Assignment Builder to Create a VoiceThread assignment that students will use to submit their work.
  • Provide a link to Course View in addition to the Create a VoiceThread link to allow students to comment on each other's shared VoiceThreads.
  • Students should check the “and share with class” checkbox before submitting their VoiceThread assignment.

share with class

Course View: The Course View assignment type will display the collection of VoiceThreads that have been shared with your course. Anything that has not yet been explicitly shared with your course will not appear in Course View.

Student Gallery: If you want students to view one another’s VoiceThreads after they are submitted, you should check the “Allow students to see each other’s submissions for this assignment?” checkbox when creating the assignment. This will give them a “Student Gallery” button in their interface to see the VoiceThreads their classmates have submitted for the assignment.

student gallery checkbox

Where can I get help on using VoiceThread features?

There are a number of excellent VoiceThread tutorials explaining how to use VoiceThread features (e.g., creating, commenting, sharing, doodling, comment moderation). You can find videos on the VoiceThread YouTube channel. Additionally, you can find information on private replies, direct replies, and threaded commenting at these links.

What's included in our Brightspace integration?

Voicethread is currently available at no cost to Xavier faculty and students. With Xavier's site license, all Xavier faculty have a pro account and each faculty member can create an unlimited number of VoiceThreads. Students have basic accounts and can create 200 VoiceThreads. More features available with our site license can be found at this VoiceThread's "What's included?" link.

How do students submit VoiceThread assignments?

Here is a link to the assignment submission guide for students.

Do I have to enter grades for VT graded assignments on a percentage scale?

Instructors can make VoiceThread assignments worth a specific number of points instead of using percentage grading. You can set the points possible in the "Assessment" section when you are creating the assignment. Previously you had to grade based on a percentage scale.

assessment options in assignment builder

What are some better practices for using VoiceThread?

You can find better practices for using VoiceThread at these links:

Where can I find tips for incorporating VoiceThread in my courses?

You can find tips on incorporating VoiceThread in your courses in this VoiceThread Best Practices: Humanize Your Online Class document from Colorado Mesa University.

Where can I find examples of how educators are using VoiceThread in teaching and learning?

You can find some use cases at Penn State that showcase how professors are using VoiceThread as well as some examples in VoiceThread's Digital Library. Additionally, you can view the Photographs That Changed the World and Visual Thinking VoiceThreads.

Where can I find VoiceThread accessibility information?

Here is a link to the VoiceThread accessibility information.

Where can I find strategies for creating accessible VoiceThread assignments?

Here is a link to strategies for creating accessible VoiceThread assignments from Penn State.

What are instant email notifications?

By default, you will receive an instant email notification every time someone records a comment on a VoiceThread that you own, that was shared with you, that you have commented on, or that you have subscribed to. You can click on the comment in that email to open it in your web browser.

Users can disable the instant email notifications. More information on instant email notifications (including how to disable it) is available.

What are the VoiceThread system requirements?

VoiceThread is a cloud application, so there is no software to install. VoiceThread system requirements can be found at this link.

Is VoiceThread available for mobile devices?

A VoiceThread app is available for your iOS or Android mobile device. Here is a link where you can get more information about VoiceThread for mobile devices.

Where can I find VoiceThread troubleshooting tips?

If you reviewed the troubleshooting tips and are still having problems accessing VoiceThread, try these basic troubleshooting steps:

  1. Review the VoiceThread browser requirements to make sure your web browser is fully supported.
  2. Make sure your browser is completely up to date.
  3. Clear your browser's cache: clearing-the-browser-cache
  4. Enable cookies for VoiceThread in your browser: how to enable cookies in your browser
  5. Fully restart your machine.