Flip Your Professional Development with VoiceThread

The concept of “flipping” the classroom has been around for a number of years but it hasn’t been widely adopted as a professional development strategy. Why is this the case? In a traditional face-to-face course, students are required to attend classes at a certain time in a specific classroom so their schedules are predictable. Professional development workshops for faculty are typically not as predictable. Scheduling workshops for teachers can be a difficult task because of after school activities, department meetings, office hours and a host of other obstacles.

VoiceThread can help trainers at all levels overcome these obstacles. Over the last few years, we have worked with a number of Instructional Designers and Learning Support staff to create and deliver flipped workshops. In the past, trainers may have been able to cobble together tutorials and documents to share with teachers, but VoiceThread makes organizing materials and follow-up discussions easier. Instead of compiling half a dozen links to YouTube videos, webpages and in-house materials, you can upload all of your content to one place. You can narrate over slides, share screencast videos and have an open Q&A all on a single VoiceThread.

Because VoiceThread is asynchronous and web-based, there is no need to schedule, reserve meeting space and deal with all of the logistics that go along with professional development. Many teachers want professional development, but those obstacles can get in the way. A teacher may have time to learn at 10pm on a Thursday, or early in the morning on the weekends, and VoiceThread allows these teachers to enjoy the benefits of PD without having to upend their schedules.

As teachers work through the material, they can easily record their questions at any time of day. The facilitator of the VoiceThread workshop can then review the questions on their time and respond. If the answers are complex, the facilitator can upload a new slide explaining the answer in greater visual detail to that same VoiceThread. You can eliminate the back and forth of text-based emails and maintain a record of the questions where everyone can hear them.

There will always be a time and place for meeting with someone face-to-face to work through issues, but VoiceThread gives you the freedom to decide when that is necessary and when it’s not.


Using Comment Moderation to Evaluate and Reply to Your Students

This is a guest post by VoiceThread Certified Educator Curtis Izen.

 

In my online and f2f business information courses, I use VoiceThread for a variety of assignments. This includes an “ice breaker”, transforming discussion boards, group PowerPoint and using individual research assignments to be shared for the entire class to learn from.

This semester, I wanted to try an assignment utilizing a feature in VoiceThread that I have yet to explore. In the assignment I created, students were tasked with completing an MS Excel assignment. Although the completed assignments were delivered to me via Blackboard, there was one component where I incorporated VoiceThread. Part of the task was for students to create a macro (series of repetitive commands that could be invoked using only the keyboard). Each student was to create a macro they felt could be implemented if they were recently hired in a finance or accounting firm. Once they completed their excel macro, they had to use VoiceThread to present their accomplishments to their boss. They needed to state why they chose the macro, what the macro does, what obstacles they overcame and how they could possibly move their final creation to the next level. I had set a limit of 3 minutes for them to present.

The feature I incorporated was comment moderation. This prevents other students from seeing their classmates’ comments. Students had to create their own ideas and couldn’t be swayed by their peers. The end results were excellent. I had 25 unique assignments that worked. I followed the student’s suggested comments on my own excel computer program. I was impressed by some of the creativity that was produced. Requiring the students to speak in front of the camera made them feel assertive with the material. It was as if their actual boss was on the other end. Some students went as far as dressing up.

I subsequently made a private voice comment to each student explaining my assessment of the video they produced. I soon realized I could use VoiceThread to not only analyze that component, but the complete assignment. I no longer need to write back my observations. I found it more effective and efficient explaining how certain tasks could have been accomplished verbally than anything I could have written. The one caveat is to review your VoiceThread replies and be sure that they have a line connecting the commenter to yours as well as a lock. If you find your comment is not locked, that comment will be visible to everyone. If you are looking for ways to engage your students, a VoiceThread assignment may be the solution.


About the Author:

Curtis Izen is a senior information associate and VoiceThread Certified Educator. Curtis adjuncts online and face to face courses at Baruch College and the School of Professional Studies at the City University of New York. Curtis is passionate on bringing new philosophies and technology into the curriculum. He is a 2 time recipient of the Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Teaching and Pedagogy at Baruch College.


Ask Me Anything: Teaching with Comic Books!

Have you ever used comic books to teach? Tim Smyth has, and he is ready to share his secrets with you in our first “Ask Me Anything” on VoiceThread! Learn how Tim has used comics to teach his high school students about the Civil Rights marches, Japanese internment camps, and more during this special, one-week only, online event.

Tim has helped hundreds of educators learn how to use comics to teach a variety of subjects like history, science, and classic literature, and he can share his strategies with you, too. If you and your students would like to participate, just open the VoiceThread below and record your questions for Tim! It’s that easy.


About Tim Smyth:

 

Tim Smyth is a high school social studies teacher of 16 years with a MS Reading Specialist degree who believes all educators are teachers of reading.  He travels the country sharing the power of comics in education for both students and teachers.  This VoiceThread will give you resources and lessons you can use in your classroom tomorrow, no matter your subject area or level!

 


Using VoiceThread for Language Classes

This is a guest post by educator and VoiceThreader Dr. Daisy Sam.

 

I have been a classroom teacher since 2005. My only break from the classroom was in 2011 when my family moved from RI to NJ and this year school year as we made another transition from NJ to FL. Sometimes the teaching life is so involved you seldom have time to sit and reflect on the lessons you have created. You just keep doing what works and adapt to new approaches as they come. I truly believe that Teaching is an Art and my tools are a variety of web tools that enhance my lessons. One tool in particular that has been instrumental in my life as a language teacher is VoiceThread.

In the process of writing this blog I went through the many VoiceThreads I have created through the years. I realized that March 2009 was my very first one! Initially, I bought in because of the recording, annotating, and sharing features. Moreover, I was excited about the direct implications this tool had for my Foreign Language classroom of sixth, seventh and eighth graders. At first, I created groups for my classes and loaded VoiceThreads where I would record myself explaining a concept taught in class or pronouncing words. In a way, this was my version of a flipped classroom in 2009. As I developed more experience, I started using VoiceThread to enhance projects by showcasing them to parents on my Google Website. One project in particular was a fashion show. My eager seventh graders used a row of tables as their runway and recorded aspects of their show on VoiceThread. We shared it by embedding the thread in our class website. I then put VoiceThread in the hands of my middle schoolers and had them produce the extra lesson and explanations to share with the class. Additionally, I flipped my classroom readings during this time. Students would read in class and then for homework listen to me read a chapter. This process allowed them to continue to develop an ear for the language.

When I left RI for NJ, I also left behind my sweet middle schoolers. In Ridgewood, NJ I had the opportunity to teach high School. Not knowing how my “big kids” would react to VoiceThread I implemented it slowly. I quickly learned that high schoolers hate listening to themselves speak in Spanish! One of my first VoiceThread applications was having students recreate a scene from a story in our literature book. At this point, they were able to have their own VoiceThread account and join my class group. They recorded and shared their stories with our class group. As a classroom technique to get them out of their seats (World Cafe or Gallery Walk), we placed 1 computer at 4 tables. Each computer had a story from each group. I then asked students to rotate in groups and engage in discussion while providing feedback to the 4 stories. This was an “ Aha moment” when I realized that VoiceThread was a great source to provide verbal feedback. It was during this “Aha moment” that I really started experimenting and using VoiceThread for formal assessments. I wanted to give my students the opportunity to move past the grammar and speak the language in one place where I could also provide feedback. I needed a fast and convenient platform to do this and VoiceThread was that platform.

As I started teaching AP, it was clear I needed VoiceThread to help me not only create authentic forms of assessment, but also aid in the interpersonal skills needed for students to exit successfully from our Spanish curriculum. Part of the AP exam requires students to record a 2 minute presentation where they have to compare and contrast world issues of a spanish speaking culture and their own community. Needless to say, this was a challenge for many of them. We met this challenge head-on with VoiceThread. First, I posted a picture and the topic and everyone recorded their responses on the same thread. As a teacher this made it easier to grade. I knew I had to allocate a certain amount of time to listen to all of them. It showed me how long each recording lasted and with the VoiceThread App, I was able to listen to my students in my car, at the gym, at my kids practices, anywhere. This was beneficial for the students because it gave them an authentic opportunity for practice. The timing format allowed them to become vigilant of time constraints for the exam. When the assessment was over, I opened them so they could all listen to each other. The true strength of this application was the bi-directional learning that happened from student to student. Another aspect that is always a challenge of the AP exam is the simulated conversation and VoiceThread was a great resource for this. As a project they created their own simulated conversations which we embedded on a Google Site for incoming freshman. They had a good time coming up with discussion topics and it was a great way to share the expectations of the AP exam with teachers and students of the lower levels. In this website via VoiceThread, they also created listening practices, which also gave incoming students a perspective of what can be achieved at the higher levels

The use of VoiceThread not only assisted in enhancing assessments and practice skills for the AP exam, but its practical use found its was to my other lower level classes as well. In these classes, I often used VoiceThread to record Group conversations. This particular technique allowed me to float around the classroom and engage in conversation with students and grade these conversations at a later time. At times I took it a step further and used these same conversations as a homework assignment where students had to pick a group to listen to on the VoiceThread discussion of the day and then produce a written reflection of agreement or disagreement. VoiceThread allowed me to design much more meaningful and rigorous assessments. We moved from lower levels of depth of knowledge (DOK) of conjugating verbs to higher levels of depth of knowledge real, authentic conversations in Spanish. For instance, in my 5-Honors class, the exam went from a traditional final with multiple choice questions and grammar to a 25 minute group final with a Spider Conversational Expectation, which involved a conversation reflecting on everything including HS and their Spanish career.

In all, it is my belief that language acquisition is one of the hardest skills to develop. It demands a strong command of vocabulary, grammar, context and confidence. Most teachers, including myself at one point, spend time drilling student skills in vocabulary and grammar. With a “drill and kill” process, most students disengage and develop minimal skills. However, VoiceThread showed me and my students that there was another way to learn a language that was much more meaningful and rigorous. Through its simplicity and practicality, my students and I were able to engage in higher level DOK conversations, which maximize engagement and language acquisition. I cannot imagine any of my classes without VoiceThread and you shouldn’t either. Don’t just take my word for it, check out what my two former students had to say about VoiceThread.


About the author:

Dr. Sam, most recently was a Spanish Teacher and Technology Coach at Ridgewood High School, NJ. Although she is taking a year of from the classroom as she transitions her three children into a her new home state of Florida, she an active Google Education Trainer and Consultant for Eduscape Learning and New Wave Consultants. She has been in the field of education for over ten years. Dr. Sam has been using web tools in the classroom since 2008. In 2013 she became a Google Certified Individual and a Google Education Trainer in June 2014. She holds a Masters degree in Teaching and Student Learning and a Doctoral Degree in Education Leadership. Her 2011 Dissertation focused on how middle school teachers in the different areas of education, described their level of competency using technology and implementing the national education technology standards. In addition Dr. Sam has presented her session Using Google Apps and Web 2.0 tools for AP Success at the 2016 AP Annual Conference, NJ World Language Institute and has been a guest presenter at various World Language Departments in NJ. You can connect with Dr. Sam on twitter at @daisysam1.


Ask Me Anything: Teaching with Comic Books!

 

Have you ever used comic books to teach? Tim Smyth has, and he is ready to share his secrets with you in our first “Ask Me Anything” on VoiceThread! Learn how Tim has used comics to teach his high school students about the Civil Rights marches, Japanese internment camps, and more during this special online event.

Tim has helped hundreds of educators learn how to use comics to teach a variety of subjects like history, science, and classic literature, and he can share his strategies with you, too. Next week we will share a special AMA VoiceThread with you so you and your students can join in the fun.

Whether you are a teacher, a student or you just love comic books, we hope you can join us during the week of November 13th for our first VoiceThread “Ask Me Anything”.

If you and your students would like to participate, just add your name to this list and we will send you the link on November 13th. Then, just record your questions for Tim! It’s that easy.

 


About Tim Smyth:

 

Tim Smyth is a high school social studies teacher of 16 years with a MS Reading Specialist degree who believes all educators are teachers of reading.  He travels the country sharing the power of comics in education for both students and teachers.  This VoiceThread will give you resources and lessons you can use in your classroom tomorrow, no matter your subject area or level!


Why VoiceThread?

This is a guest post by VoiceThread Certified Educator Donna Hanks.

 

VoiceThread has completely changed the teaching and learning dynamic of my online courses! Classes are more engaging, student participation is rich with information and providing feedback is simple yet meaningful!

I initially started using VoiceThread as a replacement to the traditional discussion board in my online Supervisory Management course. Rather than have students type out their thoughts to a question, self-assessment or case study, I have students use VoiceThread. VoiceThread allows students to easily prepare a video post detailing their analysis and ideas while making connections to concepts covered in the chapter. This has been a game changer in terms of student engagement, information richness and quality of peer to peer interactions. The quality of student posts far exceeds the quality of discussion board posts I was previously seeing.

In 2015 I started using VoiceThread in my online Project Management course. Not so much as a discussion board replacement but as a repository for project deliverables. Prior to VoiceThread students uploaded project deliverables to BlackBoard, I would correct them, write or type feedback using a rubric and return deliverables to the student. VoiceThread has changed all that! Students now upload their project deliverables to VoiceThread, prepare a video post to explain their deliverables, analyze how the information applies to the chapter concepts and sell me as to why they believe their work is an effective approach for the given project.

I then prepare a video post back to the students with my feedback and suggestions while using the pen functionality in VoiceThread to write corrections or suggestions right on the deliverables. All of this interaction is captured in one location! And did I mention? This is a group project so multiple students are working on the same project deliverables at the same time. VoiceThread provides a 360 degree approach to student learning!

Feedback I often hear from students is they feel like they are actually part of a class and not floating by themselves in an online world. They get to see their classmates each week and seemingly talk to them throughout the semester. Students are motivated by the opportunity to collaborate in VoiceThread so they look forward to completing their own work and interacting and learning from their peers. When was the last time a student told you they were excited to participate in a discussion board?

VoiceThread fosters a learning environment that is robust, interactive, relevant, and may I say…fun! So much so that I plan on using it to flip a classroom this spring for a course I teach on campus! I can’t wait!

So, if you are looking for a platform to jazz up your class, improve engagement and enhance student learning, my question would be…Why not VoiceThread??


About the Author:

Donna Hanks is a Business & Technology Instructor/Team Leader for Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City, South Dakota and VoiceThread Certified Educator. She can be reached at donna.hanks [at] wdt.edu.


Using VoiceThread to Enhance Existing Assignments

This is a guest post by Nursing Educator and VoiceThreader Kimberly Davis.

 

I attended the online VoiceThread Basics Training this past spring and was quickly hooked! One of the features that really appealed to me about using VoiceThread was the idea that students could use multiple modalities to express themselves. I teach Concepts of Professional Nursing, an introductory nursing course, where students have traditionally used a written discussion board post to answer how this class has shaped their professional identity. This summer instead of using the discussion board forum, I took the question to VoiceThread and had the students post their discussion using their own slides, video, audio, images, etc. This assignment became so much more interactive, and the student responses were truly inspiring!

Logistically, I wanted to make the discussion meaningful since I have 80 students in the class, so I divided them into groups of 10 to make it more manageable. After they read over and responded to each other’s posts, they then created an electronic poster presentation of just images to represent their group’s collective professional identity as a nurse. Each of the groups then presented their electronic posters to the class on our final day.

I think utilizing VoiceThread allowed for a deeper reflection since students were able to use color, voice, video, and imagery to represent their thoughts. As I read through their posts, there was definitely an underlying feeling that students were starting to realize how challenging the nursing profession will be. Some themes I saw in the responses included recognition of the complexity of patient-centered care/advocacy, importance of caring and safety, need for evidence-based practice, dangers of horizontal violence, importance of caring for self, etc. An unintended effect of this assignment was that I saw multiple encouraging responses between the students, such as “You will be an awesome nurse” and “I have no doubt in my mind you will be compassionate and knowledgeable to all of your patients! Your patients are going to be lucky to have you as a nurse!” Using VoiceThread for this assignment truly enhanced student engagement and contributed to their learning in a significant way.

Since I had such a positive experience in the introductory nursing course, I decided to implement VoiceThread into a reflection activity with my community clinical group this semester. Since this is a service learning course, students are expected to participate in meaningful reflections of their community-based experiences. This semester I started posting their reflection questions on VoiceThread and gave them editing rights which allowed them to add their own slides after my introduction so they could then respond to each other with voice, text, video, and imagery. I have led this reflection activity for several years now using a traditional written discussion board forum. Typically students have responded to the minimum number of posts as required, however, this semester I noticed a higher level of engagement with some students responding more than this required minimum. Reflecting with VoiceThread has been a success!

Another feature that enticed me to implement VoiceThread was the editing ability. I am program director for the Care Coordination Certificate program at our university, which is 95% online. The first course that students take in the program includes an overview of the United States healthcare system. We identified early this year that pre-recording these lectures was not going to be in the best interest of the students due to the rapidly changing health care environment. For the instructor, the editing features of VoiceThread are ideal when content may change from week to week (or even day to day!)

We are able to prepare lectures and re-record over one slide at a time, or even exchange slides, all without having to re-record the entire lecture. This editing feature has been a huge win for the faculty in the program who need to be able to quickly adapt to an ever-changing health care environment. It’s also wonderful in an online program that students can add questions and comments directly to the slides throughout the lecture. This promotes engagement when learning is asynchronous, and inserting audience response questions is a great way to break up the content.

Implementing VoiceThread has been a big win for me and my students this year! Faculty are excited about using this tool, and students are more engaged in the learning activities.

 


Kimberly Davis, MS, RN, CNE is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Nursing in Richmond, VA. She teaches in a variety of undergraduate nursing courses with a special focus on community health nursing. Kimberly also serves as core faculty for the Center for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Care and is program director for the Care Coordination Certificate at VCU, an interprofessional post-baccalaureate graduate level certificate targeted to health science students. You can contact her at daviskd5 [at] vcu.edu.


A VoiceThread for Any Course

This is a guest post by educator and VoiceThreader, Dana Heimlich, MS,Ed.

 

I love VoiceThread! I love it so much that I’m always tweeting my gratitude to them–which is how I ended up writing this guest blog post (seriously). I’m very excited to share my experiences in the hopes that it might inspire you to give VoiceThread a try!

I discovered VoiceThread years ago as a high school German teacher. It seemed like a dynamic way for me to teach vocabulary. I could collect images, speak the words out loud and have students write out what they heard, assessing listening, spelling and vocabulary simultaneously. After establishing a basic level of proficiency, I re-used the VoiceThread by having students make individual or small-group copies. They then deleted my narration and recorded their own sentences. Because they were recycling prior knowledge in a familiar setting, their confidence soared along with their grades!

Eventually, I had German students build their own, personalized photo-storyboards in VoiceThread. They eagerly used the comment feature to ask questions about each other’s stories and engage in exciting discussions in the target language. From slideshows about zombie invasions (illness/injury vocabulary) to after-school-special-style guides on German driving and hilarious, German-language tours of our own high school campus, my students had me laughing for years.

As an instructional technologist in K12, I excitedly assisted my colleagues in other content areas with VoiceThread. Math students narrated their thought process step-by-step while solving problems. Their classmates chimed in with thoughtful questions or a critique of their reasoning. English students created VoiceThreads with images of their favorite books and posted links to secondary sources after a library lesson on the information search process. Anatomy students made Jeopardy-style games by describing a body part or flashing an image of it on a slide.

VoiceThread is also a fantastic “gateway tech tool” to hook higher ed professors on the wonders of educational technology. Many instructors use old-school PowerPoints in face-to-face courses or in Learning Management Systems without thinking about compatibility or student engagement. They are often thrilled to learn that trying VoiceThread is effortless–they can import a pre-existing PowerPoint (with audio!) directly into the system in seconds. The web link can be shared anywhere and eliminates compatibility issues. From there, it’s easy to make a case for flipping the classroom and asking students to post questions to the VoiceThread before delving deeply into the content. They can return to the same VoiceThread later to respond to classmates with newfound knowledge.

But wait–there’s more! If your students don’t have computing devices, they can use smartphones to access slides and leave text, video or audio comments without even downloading the app. This works to spice up faculty training sessions too!  VoiceThread’s accessibility features are excellent and its mixed-media style format helps to differentiate instruction. Fresh out of ideas? Search VoiceThread’s public gallery for inspiration or give your students a guiding question and have them create your course content.

I’m a huge fan of this tool and find it to be an easy, user-friendly way to engage students and make learning fun!


About the author 

Dana Heimlich, MS,Ed. is an Instructional Design Specialist and Adjunct Instructor of Education at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, NJ.  She is a Google for Education Certified Trainer and an avid supporter of dynamic web-based tools like VoiceThread in K12 and higher education.

Dana is especially interested in leveraging technology in ways that promote equity in education and is a staunch supporter of student-led learning and inquiry-based pedagogy. You can find her on Twitter @danaheimlich or via her blog at danaheimlich.com.

 

 


VoiceThread Roadmap for Fall 2017

What’s New in 2017

Say Goodbye to Flash! 

Our transition away from Flash has been an ongoing project over the last four years. Not unlike re-building a plane in flight, it required keeping in mind that VoiceThreaders all over the world were counting on us to keep the conversations going no matter what. It’s been a long road, but now you don’t need any Flash whatsoever to use VoiceThread.  The new HTML5 version looks and feels the same while offering new features and increased security.  You can move from Flash to HTML5 any time between August 1 and December 31, 2017. Try it out now!


Adjustable Playback Speed  

Now you can speed up or slow down audio and video comments.  Not only will this save you a lot of time if you need to listen to a long conversation, but it also improves accessibility by allowing people to adjust a speaker’s delivery to meet their own individual processing speed. When you move to the HTML5 version of VoiceThread, you’ll get access to the adjustable playback speed automatically.  


Accessibility Updates 

In addition to adjustable playback speed, you can now increase text comment size.  Just click on the “T” icons at the bottom of any text comment to make it larger or smaller.


Professional Development Courses 

Over 150 educators have already been certified as VoiceThread experts!  We offer new cohorts of the VoiceThread Certified Educator Course every month.  This summer we also added a one-week course titled “Teaching Languages with VoiceThread”, where participants engage with interactive course content and then complete a final project for certification.

If you’re interested in participating in future cohorts, please add your name to the waitlist:


Privacy/Security/Terms of Service  

While it doesn’t sound exciting, updates to VoiceThread’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy are a big deal! We’ve made our policies clearer and completed Privacy Shield Certification and iKeepSafe reviews for COPPA and FERPA compliance. These updates have allowed more schools and institutions to adopt VoiceThread for their students.

Ed.VoiceThread (K-12) users:

VoiceThread.com (higher education and commercial) users:


Google Drive Integration 

Easily pull your content from your Google Drive via the VT Media Sources. No more downloading-then-uploading; just pull your files directly into a VoiceThread. Whether you use a Chromebook or simply store all of your media in Google Drive, this will simplify and speed up your creation workflows.


Limiting Comment Length   

VoiceThread offers commenters the freedom to record for up to 60 minutes at a time, but sometimes constrictions can actually be a good thing! We’ve added the option for VoiceThread authors to limit comments on their VoiceThreads to any amount of time they’d like. Use it for speech practice, timed presentations, or even just to keep a conversation succinct.


PechaKucha and Ignite Presentations  

As an extension of comment time limits, VoiceThreaders can now create simple ways to set up PechaKucha and Ignite presentations.  We’ll limit comment times and even advance your slides automatically as you record based on the presentation format you choose. You can even adjust those restrictions to create your own variations on these styles.


Mobile Updates  

This year we’ve streamlined the process for building a VoiceThread and made it much simpler for students to submit their graded assignments using an LTI integration in your LMS.


PowerPoint Audio  

Sometimes students and instructors will record audio narration directly onto their PowerPoint slides before they upload them to VoiceThread. Now when you upload those PPT files into VoiceThread, that audio will be included on your VoiceThread slides automatically.


More Space for Students  

Some students are building impressive portfolios in VoiceThread, and they need a little more elbow room.  We’ve expanded all student accounts to have room for 200 VoiceThreads so they can continue building and VoiceThreading.


Import Larger Files 

As recording devices and smartphones become more sophisticated, even short videos are getting larger and larger. We’ve doubled the file size limit for VoiceThread uploads so that you can keep using your videos easily. You can now upload files that are up to 3 GB each.

 

What’s Next?

Expanded Conversation Channel

An “expanded” view of the avatar channel will enable you to see commenters’ names, time stamps, and type of comment at a glance. People who need quick access to all of that information about each comment will find the expanded view a great fit.


List View of Slides

If you click on the postcard icon near the bottom-right corner of a VoiceThread, you see all of the slides laid out on one page. This is handy for jumping to other slides quickly. It’s also the place to go if you want to see slides that other people have added to your VoiceThread. We’re working on a “list view” of your slides so you can see at a glance who added each slide and when.


Accessibility Updates

VoiceThread Universal allows users of screen readers to access VoiceThread in a format designed especially for them.  It puts the elements of the page in an order that makes sense to a screen reader and removes any other information from the page. We’re expanding VoiceThread Universal to include sharing workflows, new-comment notifications, and better integration with learning management systems.  

We’re also enhancing VT Universal to be more mobile friendly. This will help mobile screen readers access content even more easily.

Finally, we are adding Cielo24 to our list of third-party closed-caption integrations. 3Play Media, CaptionSync, and Amara are supported already.


Courses and Assignments

Last semester we announced that we’re working on VoiceThread Courses, which will enhance the way you organize your VoiceThread content for individual courses. This is a large project with lots of moving parts, but we’re continuing to work hard on it.  One of the first elements we plan to release is a more robust assignments platform.  We’ll be improving the existing assignment options included in the LTI integration by offering tighter due date controls, new assignment types, and more flexible grading frameworks.


New Comment Controls + Pecha Kucha and Ignite

Flexibility is one of VoiceThread’s strengths as an instructional tool, but sometimes restrictions can actually bring focus to a learning experience and make it much more engaging for students. We’ve just included two new features that allow instructors to do just that.

Setting the Maximum Comment Length

By default, audio and video comments recorded in VoiceThread can be up to 60 minutes long. Now you can set a shorter limit for comments for any VoiceThread you’ve created. Use this feature for speech practice, timed presentations, or even just to keep a conversation more succinct.

Pecha Kucha and Ignite Presentations

As an extension of comment time limits, we’re including simple ways to set up Pecha Kucha and Ignite presentations. These have strict rules and constrictions, requiring the presenter to give a very focused and condensed presentation. We’ll limit comment times and advance your slides automatically as you record based on the rules of the presentation format you choose. You can even adjust those restrictions to create your own variations on these styles.

Limiting Comment Types

Don’t forget that you can also decide which types of comments are permitted in your VoiceThread, too. If you don’t want any text comments, just turn them off!

Click below to learn more about how to adjust all of these settings.

Please contact pro-support@voicethread.com with any questions.