VoiceThread - Instructor Guide | Office of Information Technology

VoiceThread - Instructor Guide

Last Updated: 08/13/2015


What is VoiceThread?

VoiceThread is an online interactive program that allows students and instructors to post audio, video or text comments on shared, multimedia slideshows. It facilitates asynchronous online discussions in a way that simulates a live presence.

CU-Boulder Site License

All instructors at the University of Colorado Boulder are eligible for Pro accounts (create an unlimited number of VoiceThreads, with unlimited storage). All students at University of Colorado Boulder are eligible for Basic accounts (create up to 50 VoiceThreads and 2 GB of storage).

Integration with D2L

VoiceThread is integrated with Desire2Learn in a number of ways and additional functionality is being developed. For an improved experience, including auto-populated classes and improved sharing capabilities, consider activating the VoiceThread Course View in your D2L course. This will allow students to access VoiceThread without having to login. Alternatively, you can always link out to VoiceThreads from within D2L.

Part one: Your CU VoiceThread Account

Logging In

CU users of VoiceThread can access the tool from either VoiceThread or through their D2L courses. When you are just beginning with the program, we recommend that you visit the CU VoiceThread page. Once you have VoiceThreads created and ready for your course, then you can easily add VoiceThreads to your D2L courses.

  • Go to http://colorado.voicethread.com
  • Log in with your CU credentials (CU Login Name and IdentiKey password)

    • Pro Accounts: Currently, when you register for VoiceThread, you will automatically be enrolled into a Basic account. In order to upgrade to a Pro account, email the IT Service Center at help@colorado.edu mention that you are a CU instructor/TA and request that your account be promoted.
    • If you have an old VoiceThread account, that is under an email other than your colorado.edu email, log in with your CU Login Name and your IdentiKey Password for now. To get your old VoiceThreads rolled into your new account, contact the IT Service Center at help@colorado.edu.


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  1. To customize your Identity click on your username (e.g. ralphie.buffalo@colorado.edu) at the top right of the screen and go to My Identities
  2. Select Edit
  3. Edit the name and picture associated with your account. You can upload a picture of yourself from your personal computer if you would like.

Display Preferences

To adjust your Display Preferences, click your username (e.g. ralphi.buffalo@colorado.edu) in the top right of the screen and choose Display Preferences from the drop-down. Then select if you would like to work in a light or dark environment. You can also choose here to switch to VoiceThread Universal, which is designed for use with screen readers.

Part two: Create a VoiceThread

There are three steps to creating a VoiceThread. The first step is adding media files to serve as slides in the VoiceThread, as explained in the current section. The second is commenting on your slides, covered in part three of this guide. The final step is sharing your VoiceThread so others can view it, covered in parts five and six.

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  1. At the top of the page, select Create

Upload media

After clicking Create, the first step is to add media to your VoiceThread.

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  1. To add media files to your new VoiceThread, you can simply drag and drop files from your computer onto the screen. Or you can click Add Media and choose the source: My Computer lets you browse for a file on your computer; Media Sources lets you search for public access media online; Webcam Photo or Webcam Video lets you record new media with your webcam; and URL lets you paste in the direct link to a file.
  2. After uploading, your files will appear in the window. You can add more files by dragging and dropping them into the window or selecting Add Media in the upper left corner. You can rearrange the slides by clicking and dragging them across the screen.
  3. Now give your VoiceThread a title by clicking add a title and description. This will open the Title/Description tab of the Thread Settings menu. You can also title your individual slides by hovering over a slide and clicking the pencil icon when it appears.
  4. If you want to visit this VoiceThread creation page again to change any of these settings, just click on VT Home, hover over the VoiceThread you wish to edit, and click on the Edit icon when it appears.

Part three: Comment on your VoiceThread

Record, Reorder and Delete Comments

Now that all of the media is in place, we can integrate text, audio and webcam Comments.

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  1. To comment on a VoiceThread, click on VT Home, and then click on a VoiceThread of your choice. The VoiceThread will open, and the Comment button will appear at the bottom of the screen. Use the left and right arrows in the bottom right corner to navigate to the slide you want to comment on. Or click the Show all the slides button located between the arrows to open postcard view, which you can use to jump to a specific slide or rearrange slides by dragging and dropping them.
  2. Click on Comment and the commenting menu will open with five options. Click on the icon representing the type of comment you want to make.
    • ABC icon: Type in a text comment.
    • Telephone icon: Leave an audio comment using your phone iif you don’t have a microphone on your computer. Each CU user can make a limited number of phone comments.
    • Microphone icon: Record an audio comment with your computer’s microphone.
    • Video camera icon: Record a video comment with your webcam.
    • Upload icon: Upload a media file with your audio/video comment.
    Follow the prompts to leave your audio, webcam, phone or text comments.
  3. While recording a comment, you can click and drag your cursor across the screen to draw on the slide. Click the pencil icon at the bottom of the screen to change the drawing color.
  4. Once you have recorded a comment, it will appear as a thumbnail on the left side of the screen. Click on a thumbnail to play/view that comment. You can also drag and drop comments up and down to reorder them. When the VoiceThread is viewed, comments will play from top to bottom.
  5. To delete a comment, click on its thumbnail icon on the left side of the screen and then click the trash icon.
  6. When you are finished commenting on the VoiceThread, click the close button in the upper-right corner to close it.

Part four: Creating a Copy of a VoiceThread

If you intend to have more than one class comment on a VoiceThread in the same semester, be sure to create copies of the VoiceThread and share a different copy with each distinct section. (This suggestion applies to VoiceThreads you plan to reuse semester to semester as well.) If you fail to create distinct copies, all of your students will comment on the same VoiceThread.

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  1. From the VT Home page, hover over the VoiceThread you wish to copy and click the Copy icon.
  2. You can then add a new title to the new VoiceThread. Be sure to include any relevant information such as the section number or the semester. Then select to Include only my comments or whichever option suits your needs. Finally, click Copy or Copy and Open and the new VoiceThread will be created.


Part five: Share your VoiceThread in Desire2Learn

There are two primary ways you can share VoiceThreads in your D2L courses, by creating a link (Option 1) or by enabling the VoiceThread Course View (Option 2).

Note: If you intend to have more than one class comment on a VoiceThread, be sure to create various copies of the VoiceThread and share a different copy with each section. Return to Part Four to read more about the copying process.

D2L Sharing Option 1

If you plan to use VoiceThread only once or twice during the semester, we recommend that you share the link to your new VoiceThread in your Desire2Learn course.

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  1. From the VT Home page, hover over the VoiceThread you wish to share and click the Share icon.
  2. In the window that opens, click the Basic tab. Then, check the boxes to indicate if those who click on the link should be allowed to comment on the VoiceThread or just view it. Finally, click Copy Link. You can now paste the link to the VoiceThread in a handout, a web page, an email, or Desire2Learn.
  3. To post the link in your Desire2Learn Content tool, go to your D2L course homepage and select Content. Open (click on) the module in which you intend to post the link or create a new module.
  4. Next, select the New drop-down tab and select Create a Link.
  5. Enter the title to be displayed and then paste the URL/link you copied from VoiceThread. We also recommend you tick the Open in New Window box. Select Create. Either the VoiceThread will open automatically or you will see a page that will prompt your students to confirm they are CU users.

When your students click on a link to VoiceThread for the first time, they will be prompted to confirm that they have a CU Boulder username.

If they click "yes", they will be prompted to sign into VoiceThread with their CU credentials. The VoiceThread you created should open directly for commenting (if not, they can refresh their page and the VoiceThread will open). If they click “no”, they will be prompted to create an account.

D2L Sharing Option 2

If you plan to use VoiceThread often, or if you want your students to create or share VoiceThreads with each other, we recommend that you add the VoiceThread Course View to Content in your D2L course homepage. Accessing VoiceThread in this way will automatically create a group in your VoiceThread account for this course.

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  1. Within your D2L course homepage, go to Content and then open (click on) the module in which you intend to enable the VoiceThread Course View or create a new module. Then, select Add Existing Activities > External Learning Tools.
  2. A small window will open. Under External Learning Tools, select VoiceThread Course View.
  3. Now click on the link you just created. When it opens, click Course View to activate the current course in VoiceThread.
  4. Next, you will need to select the VoiceThreads to share with this course. Click + Add Your Own, then Select from my VoiceThreads.
  5. Select the VoiceThreads you wish to share with the course. Your current selections will be outlined in blue. When you are finished, scroll down until you see the Share button and click it.

When your students click the VoiceThread Course View link, they will be able to view and comment on any VoiceThreads you have shared with the course without signing in to VoiceThread.

Note: If you use the VoiceThread Course View in D2L,your students will need to click on the course view link from within D2L at least once to establish a connection between your D2L course and their VoiceThread accounts.

The next time you sign into https://colorado.voicethread.com you will notice a new "group" has been created in your VoiceThread account with the same title as your D2L course. This new group was automatically created when you enabled the VoiceThread Course View.

If you wish to use the same VoiceThread in different sections or for different semesters, remember to create different versions or copies of your VoiceThreads (see Part Four)

See Part Seven: End of Semester Maintenance for additional information.

Part six: Other Ways to Share VoiceThreads

If you use a blog or a website other than D2L, you can either link to VoiceThreads, embed VoiceThreads, or create a group within Colorado’s VoiceThread site.

To link to a VoiceThread, return to Part Five, Option 1.

VoiceThread's embed code

You can embed the VoiceThread so students can comment without needing to visit https://colorado.voicethread.com.

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  1. From the VT Home page, hover over the VoiceThread you wish to share and click the Share icon.
  2. In the window that opens, click the Basic tab, then click Embed. Check the boxes to indicate if those who click on the link should be allowed to comment on the VoiceThread or just view it. You can also adjust what the size of the embedded VoiceThread will be. Finally, click Copy Embed Code.
  3. You can paste the embed code into most web pages that allow Flash and accept embed code.

Note: Your students will still be prompted to log in to VoiceThread before commenting.

Creating Groups (only Pro accounts)

If you elect NOT to use the VoiceThread Course View in D2L (described in Part Five), you can still create Groups for your specific courses in VoiceThread so your students can easily access the VoiceThreads for that class. A Pro account is needed for this step (see Part One for information on Pro accounts).

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  1. Click on your email in the upper right corner of the VT Home page and select Groups and Contacts.
  2. Click the +Group button.
  3. Add a name and description for the group and then click Create Group.
  4. Select a header for your group's VoiceThread page, or upload your own. Then click OK.
  5. Click Group Sign-up Link and then Copy Link. You can paste this link into an email, a website, or your course materials. Anyone who clicks the link will automatically be added to the group, gaining access to all the work being shared with the group.

After a Group is created, sharing is really simple. Just click on a VoiceThread and drag it onto the Group's name on the left. Then you’ll be asked to choose if the group should be able to view, comment on, or edit the VoiceThread before you share it

When you click on any Group name on the left, you will see all of the VoiceThreads that are currently shared with the Group.

Part seven: End-of-Semester Maintenance

If you added the VoiceThread Course View to your D2L course and plan to use VoiceThread for the same course in the future, your VoiceThread groups/classes list will quickly become confusing. Thus, at the end of every semester, follow these steps to ensure that VoiceThread is ready to go for the next semester.

  • Make a copy of any VoiceThreads you want to reuse.When copying, select the "Keep only my comments" option so that students' comments from the previous semester are deleted, but not yours. For more information on copying VoiceThreads, see Part Four of this tutorial.
  • If you use the VoiceThread Course View in Desire2Learn and you are copying course content from one D2L course to another:
    • Delete the link to the VoiceThread Course View before copying the content into a new D2L course. Also, delete any VoiceThreads from D2L that were embedded into the old D2L course; don't worry, they'll still be available from within VoiceThread itself.
    • Retitle your new D2L course by adding the term to the end of the course title (e.g. Spanish 2110 Spring 2014).
    • Enable your VoiceThread Course View in your new course. By enabling your VoiceThread Course View after retitling your D2L course, you are ensuring that the course is distinguishable from other courses within VoiceThread itself and that the appropriate students are associated with the course in VoiceThread.