Learning to Code Collaboratively with VoiceThread

Learning to write code doesn’t need to be an isolated experience. With VoiceThread, writing code isn’t just about turning your ideas into lines of text; it’s about sparking discussions, sharing insights, and collaborating with peers and instructors. VoiceThread is all asynchronous, so you can lock-in when you’re in the zone and then share and collaborate once you’re ready, so you don’t have the hassle of trying to schedule meeting time.

Instructors can create presentations and tutorials and upload them to VoiceThread for some direct instruction in the form of lectures and review lessons, but students can use VoiceThread as collaborative spaces too.

Use Case 1: Snippets with Doodle Tool

Students can upload snippets of their code to VoiceThread then record their explanations and questions as they use VoiceThread’s doodle tool to highlight specific parts of the code and dive deep into the logic behind it. Picture students circling a tricky algorithm or underlining a crucial variable, all while explaining their thought process. Other students and the instructor can jump in, leaving comments and suggestions for revisions or alternative coding approaches. It’s like having a virtual brainstorming session where everyone’s ideas are heard and valued.

Use Case 2: Screencast Analysis

Uploading snippets can be really useful, but you can also take a screencast video of your code and upload the video files as slides on VoiceThread. Students and teachers can upload screen recordings of their code in action, walking through each line and dissecting their approach. It’s like having a front-row seat to the coding process, complete with live commentary. When students submit their work via a “create” assignment, the instructor can easily jump in for the critique and grading. If the instructor has set up the assignment with the “student gallery” feature turned on, other students in the class can join the discussion too. They can offer peer-review feedback right on VoiceThread, creating a dynamic feedback loop where everyone learns from each other’s successes and struggles.

VoiceThread isn’t just a platform; it’s a virtual playground for coding enthusiasts. Whether you’re doodling on code snippets or analyzing screencasts, VoiceThread can help by fostering collaboration, feedback, and growth every step of the way.

VoiceThread for Business Courses

When asked what skills students lack, business leaders around the world routinely point to poor communication skills in recent graduates. VoiceThread can help. With the diverse set of commenting options: audio, webcam, and text, teachers and students can customize their communication around course content to reach their educational goals. Research has shown that VoiceThread can increase student engagement and learning outcomes.

VoiceThread can be used in business classes by instructors to deliver lecture content and to replace outdated text-discussion boards, but the most dramatic impact occurs when students use VoiceThread to improve their communication skills. Here are just a few options:

  1. Group projects: Group projects are easy with VoiceThread. Students can upload Powerpoint files, images, documents, and videos, then record comments or video narration to explain their thought processes and decisions. VoiceThread can be used as a virtual meeting space for student groups to brainstorm, or as a space to deliver their final product for assessment. This can help students not only develop teamwork skills, but also practice professional communication with their classmates.
  2. Case studies: VoiceThread can be used to analyze and discuss case studies in business classes. Instructors can upload a case study as a document, video, or any other file type, then ask students to analyze and discuss the scenarios using audio or webcam comments. In addition to honing communication skills, this can help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are also essential once they enter business world.
  3. Presentations: VoiceThread can be used to create and share presentations in a low-stress environment. Students can upload Powerpoint, Keynote, Google Slides or a mix of multi-media slides and record narration to present their content. This can help students develop presentation skills and learn how to effectively communicate their ideas to an audience.
  4. Feedback and Formative Assessment: VoiceThread helps instructors provide feedback and formative assessment on student work in business classes. Instructors can leave audio or video comments throughout a student’s project or presentation, providing them with personalized feedback that can help them improve their work. This can also help instructors save time on grading and provide more detailed feedback than written comments alone. Typing a sticky note in the margin of a paper can be useful, but nothing is more effective than real human communication.

Communication is at the core of the human learning experience and VoiceThread is designed to amplify the human element of your courses.

From Skeptic to Believer: My VoiceThread Journey

This is a guest post by educator and VoiceThreader, Abigail Alexander.

When I joined my current institution as an Assistant Professor of French in 2019, I was relatively outspoken against online, asynchronous language courses. However, after incorporating VoiceThread into my courses in spring 2020, I have become an avid believer in online asynchronous French courses, which I now offer every semester. My university’s subscription to VoiceThread (a collaborative learning space that allows language students to record themselves speaking and better replicate the in-person classroom experience) has enabled me to offer engaging online asynchronous language courses in which students gain just as much speaking proficiency as their in-person language course peers and therefore meet the course’s learning outcomes with ease.

To replace the PowerPoint presentations that I prepare for each session of an in-person language course, I now develop a corresponding VoiceThread to replicate each of those individual sessions in my online asynchronous courses. In each online course, I provide 1-2 VoiceThread presentations per week that contain an average of 30 slides apiece in order to ensure that students’ listening and speaking skills develop appropriately while providing ample opportunity for student engagement and collaboration. Moreover, by creating VoiceThread activities that require students to collaborate with one another, I have found that a strong sense of community can spring up among my online students.

VoiceThread allows me to upload a PowerPoint presentation and then record myself speaking with audio and/or video, depending on the ideal pedagogical choice for each slide. This platform is very useful for language courses because my students can not only listen to my recordings as many times as they like, but they can also then record themselves speaking on the same slides and hear the recorded responses of their peers. In my online, asynchronous language courses, I require my students to listen to all of my recordings and then record their own responses where requested. Some sessions require 5 student comments, and others require 20+, depending on that session’s emphasis. After each weekly deadline, I give each student a participation grade based on these VoiceThreads, and I also provide each student with individual feedback on their grammatical accuracy, pronunciation, etc. In this way, VoiceThread helps my online students feel my constant presence in our course as well as my commitment to their progress as individual learners with unique needs.

VoiceThread also allows me to offer activities that enable students to engage with the responses recorded by their peers to create more natural discussions in the target language. Then, the final slide of each VoiceThread asks if they have any questions. Even though I frequently encourage students to email me with any questions at any time, I have found that students also enjoy taking advantage of the opportunity to pose questions in a more public forum within the VoiceThreads, which furthermore helps other students with that same question. In this way, my online students have the opportunity to have a more open dialogue with me that also welcomes participation from their peers.

About the Author:

Abigail Alexander is an Associate Professor of French at Kennesaw State University. She teaches online and in-person courses on French language and French and francophone culture and literature.

VoiceThread Case Study: Professor Curtis Izen

This is a guest post by educator and VoiceThreader, Curtis Izen of Baruch College.

Before using VoiceThread, all my discussion board requirements consisted of text-based posts and replies to weekly research questions.  The results were not exemplary.  Students completed the assignments, but I wasn’t confident they fully understood the concepts they were expressing. Quite often, the text appeared to be copied from another source. Different size fonts, font sizes, and the appearance of the discussion board was challenging to read or traverse. I truly felt as if there was a disconnect. I desired to break the distance barrier by bringing in the human element – creating a community where the students saw and heard from each other every week while making an improved assessment.

Without VT, my class was simply an “asynchronous distance course.” I wouldn’t nearly be as successful in assessing those students who needed additional support. There would only be written correspondence, and the student’s lack of expressing themselves orally or visually would create an inactive course. Without this contact every week, students were more disengaged and not learning at their peak.

I wanted my asynchronous course to mimic a face-to-face discussion. VoiceThread accomplished this for me. This transformation occurred once I created my first assignment in VoiceThread. My week one ice breaker is creating a VoiceThread, where I introduce myself in about a two to three-minute video. I talk about my education, work experience, and interests outside of academia. Having a video and talking to the students creates a presence that makes the students feel more relaxed and identify who their instructor is. This, in turn, engenders a classroom atmosphere.

Once the students watch my introductory video, they are required to make their video comment. This requires introducing themselves, similarly to the way I have. The assignment is an excellent way for the students to test VoiceThread using their technology. It also allows those students who may not be comfortable speaking in front of a camera to break out of their comfort zone.

 The next assignment task is for each classmate to listen to their classmate’s video comment. The students are then required to reply to one of the video comments using either a video or voice comment. I truly appreciate how this creates a connection among the students that otherwise couldn’t happen. I have witnessed classmates working in the same industry, living in the same town, recognizing one another by name from another course, etc., not realizing until using VoiceThread.

Seeing the students finding how fluidly VoiceThread works, I began using it weekly for their graded assignments. This allowed me to create VoiceThreads that incorporated videos and additional multimedia – all in one location! In the beginning, some students hesitated to speak in front of the camera. Some of them mentioned that this was the first time they had to present to an audience. During the third week, I witnessed students’ confidence and a sense of community building in the class.  

Students complete ten VoiceThreads throughout my course. They also have a written research paper on a particular MIS (Management Information Systems) topic. This is where VoiceThread once again shines. For their signature assignment, each student creates their own VoiceThread PowerPoint presentation. This allowed them to present the material they researched, allowing the entire class ultimately to learn about their topic and research. Classmates were again required to respond to several VoiceThreads, creating an engaging and dynamic learning assessment.   

VoiceThread thrives in several ways (1) it fosters a class where the distant boundaries of students are eliminated, (2) The human element is present, (3) students build relations with their peers both academically and professionally, (4) students become more assured presenting in front of a camera or audience, and (5) assessing students is pedagogically thorough. Do any of your assignments consist of ice-breakers, case studies, discussion boards, research-based assignments, or any assessment? In that case, VoiceThread offers excellent ways to engage your students in a dynamic course – one of which they will actually feel part of.

Some of the anonymous course evaluations /emails are included below (these are verbatim from the students and not corrected for spelling, grammar, etc.)

  • “The VoiceThread definitely improved my communication skills.”
  • “The VoiceThread discussions were extremely useful, it really made me get more comfortable with public speaking and being able to use technology at the same time!”
  • “The course really helped me get more comfortable with public speaking and being able to give a presentation.”
  • “This course helped me in my current field of work. I’ve always had a fear of presenting in public. I find myself speaking up more on conference calls, in video conferences and in meeting with others.”

Having used VoiceThread extensively over the last eight years, I have witnessed a significant change in the dynamics, student engagement, assessment and learning.

About the Author:

Curtis Izen is a full-time senior information associate at Baruch College. He teaches asynchronous online courses at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Professional Studies and hybrid courses at Baruch College. He is passionate about bringing new philosophies and technology into the curriculum. He is a VoiceThread Certified Educator, a two-time recipient of the Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Teaching and Pedagogy at Baruch College, and recipient of the Excellence in Technology Service Award from CUNY.

Elevating Online Courses with Interactive Lectures on VoiceThread (part 3/3)

This is a guest post by educator and VoiceThreader Dr. Raelynne M. Hale.

Ending the Semester - The Importance of a Goodbye

Another thing I noticed about a lot of online courses was that many courses just seemed to end, without any sort of closing message. Many final messages to students were reminders about final exams and projects, which are very important messages, but I wanted to make sure students also reflected on the semester and everything they had learned and to have an opportunity to say goodbye to their online classmates.

At the end of every online course, I give students an opportunity to share their favorite moment from the course, say goodbye to their classmates, and to leave me honest and constructive feedback about the course. 

The primary goal is to create some sort of closure and to bring back the human during a stressful time of the semester. It is also a good way to celebrate all that they have accomplished. 

An example of an end-of-term VoiceThread is available at the following link: Saying Goodbye Example VoiceThread


VoiceThread has been an amazing tool in ways that I could not have anticipated. I have been so happy with the results and the rich discussions that my students have had in our online courses together. And, as always, don’t just take my word for it, read some of the student feedback that I received from my online courses below!

A Few Quotes from Student Surveys (2021)

“I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation towards our professor for this course. Profe Hale has shown amazing leadership, communication, and supportive skills throughout the semester. Profe Hale’s ways of teaching stands out amidst a virtual classroom because she created a friendly and productive environment for me. Most importantly, she assigned engaging participation through VoiceThread lectures, which made my learning more interactive and fun. […] Profe Hale made using Canvas and VoiceThread very easy and simple to understand through her tutorial videos. Thank you, Profe Hale for a great semester!"**

“Professor Hale created a super interactive class and each assignment gave the students the opportunity to learn, analyze, share ideas and research about different topics. […] I have never taken a class like this one before and I appreciate the successful efforts of the professor for creating a very opening and warm environment through an online class. I felt very connected to my classmates! Thank you so much Profe Hale!"**

“For me, this class was well organized which made learning the material easier. […] Aside from the usual stress that comes with a class in general, the way Profe Hale effectively set up the online class made this one of the least stressful classes overall. That was very much refreshing since online and zoom classes seem to burn me out faster than in-person class."**

“Going into this class I didn’t know what to expect or how the stress levels were going to be for this class because of remote learning. But Professor Hale made the class easy to navigate, she was very organized and clear on what had to be done. Profe Hale made the class enjoyable, she gave her students a chance to interact with each other which was nice to have. She would respond to her emails almost instantly and most importantly treated her students like actual humans that go through things and not some kind of student robot. So for that I really appreciate this professor.”

(**Note: Quotes have been reduced for length and space and edited only for orthographic errors.)

About the Author:

Dr. Raelynne M. Hale is a Teaching Assistant Professor at Kansas State University. You can connect with her on social media at:

Instagram: @dr.rhale

Twitter: @RaelynneMHale

Facebook: Raelynne Hale 

Personal account updates

People of every age, profession, and interest use VoiceThread to have human conversations online. We are so inspired by the variety of wonderful work our community creates, and it’s very important to us that we keep VoiceThread as affordable as possible no matter how much VoiceThread someone needs.

To help individuals ramp up their VoiceThreading, we’re offering two new license options:

SOLO PRO: For individual VoiceThreaders want all the bells and whistles.

SOLO BASIC: An entry-level upgrade to create more VoiceThreads and share securely.

We’re also making some changes to the free account: Record comments up to 3 minutes in length Create up to 20 VoiceThreads Upload files up to 3 GB in size Add up to 10 slides to any one VoiceThread


If you have a free account now and want to upgrade, you can purchase either of these new options on the upgrade page. Once you meet the limits of the free account, you’ll see a window asking whether you’d like to go to the upgrade page, as well.

New VoiceThread: simpler, more accessible, and more powerful

Animated gif of someone zooming into an image and doodling using VoiceThread

For 17 years VoiceThread has been giving people a way to make their interactions online warmer and more “human-centric.” Now the biggest update in our history is ready for you to give it a whirl!

Just go to your display preferences page and select “New VoiceThread.” We’re big fans of self-paced change, so you can also go back to the same place to switch back to the legacy version of VoiceThread any time. Legacy VoiceThread will be supported until summer 2024.

We’re also offering the opportunity to see a tour led by our team. Register to attend an upcoming session if you can, or watch the recording here:

New VoiceThread Workshop Recording

What’s new?

There are dozens of new features and enhancements in the new VoiceThread. First, though, what’s not changing: the fundamental value delivered in each of the 24 million VoiceThread discussions people have already built — the ability to capture and convey wonderfully complex human presence across space and time. Put more succinctly, human presence in a comment.

Feeling a sense of human presence in our learning, work, and social lives is really, really important. The research makes this very clear and has informed all our planning and development. So… what’s this “New VoiceThread” all about? Accessibility, simplicity, new features, and the future. 


Accessibility is at the root of our thinking at VoiceThread. All design processes start with asking the question, “Are there barriers to meaningful access here? For whom, and why?” The goal for our team has been to take a tool that already has the most diverse user community of any communications tool ever made, and then broaden it even further. People who are neurodiverse, cognitively disabled, vision or hearing impaired, have motor-function disabilities, simply lack 21st century tech skills, do not have meaningful access to high quality interpersonal interactions for any reason whatsoever — financial, cultural, social — will find a way to communicate authentically online with VoiceThread.

Perhaps the most significant change of all will be that the New VoiceThread will now be one web application, not two. For over a decade we have had “VoiceThread Universal,”a version of the application designed specifically for use with screen readers. This started out as a necessity due to technical hurdles with early media-rich platforms, and while it had some advantages for those users because we could tailor it to fit a known and specific user group, the pitfalls of having a separate application are well known. New VoiceThread will work right out of the box with screen readers, and screen reader users will be working with the same experience as everyone else. We will continue to maintain the older VoiceThread Universal for some time because we know that change is best managed in a self-paced manner. 

  • Here’s a more detailed list of all accessibility enhancements with the new VoiceThread:
  • All buttons and fields labeled correctly
  • Automated alt text generated for documents and PDFs 
  • Field to enter alt text manually for images and other visual media
  • Option to add audio descriptions to slides
  • Text comment resizing options
  • Zoomable interface
  • WCAG 2.0 AA contrast for all interface elements, including closed captions
  • Full text transcripts of all captioned content


  1. A VoiceThread is a conversation. 

Back at the very beginning of VoiceThread, we decided to let people create new conversations on any slide in a VoiceThread because it seemed like a powerful option to give people. However, that affordance had the unintended consequence of making VoiceThread conversations a bit hard to follow, particularly for new or inexperienced users who could not see the entire conversation of a VoiceThread at-a-glance and needed to manually go from slide to slide looking for the hidden ‘sub’ conversations.  In addition, people who wanted to give a presentation and then engage their audience in a conversation would create problematic experience for their audience if they commented on multiple slides in a single comment. because as the comparison in this video shows,  a comment on slide 4 spans 11 video clips, and when the comment is over, the audience then needs to manually go through 11 slides to get to the next comment. This is not something that viewers generally understood, so they’d be stumped and wonder why the presentation just seemed to end. 

To solve those two problems, and to make VoiceThreading generally more understandable and accessible to more people, New VoiceThread will now default to a ‘One conversation’ setting that puts all comments in a single, easy-to-follow timeline. You can still create threaded conversations, but they’ll be clearly visible threads in the one timeline and not tucked away somewhere else in the VoiceThread. Importantly, you can also still start your comment on any slide you want,it will just show up in the same list as all the other comments And since we always keep ease of transition at the heart of our new features, you can still go back to the previous experience in the thread settings.

  1. A huge reduction in complexity. 

One of the main goals of this redesign was to make VoiceThreading more understandable and accessible to more people and one of the key tools to accomplish that is a reduction in the complexity of the user interface. Old VoiceThread offered a number of ways to view and navigate a conversation, you could use the comment channel on the left OR the comment timeline on the bottom. Again, we thought that giving people more information and more options was inherently better, but the cost of this was that we placed a relatively high hurdle of understanding in the way of users, in particular new users or neurodiverse users for whom all those helpful elements were actually getting in their way.

So through a redesign we were able to remove an average of 70% of the user interface elements without removing any functionality at all. Yes, you long time users might experience a moment of ‘hey this looks so different” but we’re confident that you will figure it out extremely quickly, in fact, I’ll give you a tour in just 10 seconds flat.(link to a video that says “Here’s the conversation, click this to make a comment, here’s the navigation arrows, and here’s the button to open the new Gallery view) That’s it. We think that not only are long time users gonna pick up on this quickly, many new people will be able to more quickly understand and participate in these conversations.

It basically now feels like a chat app that happens to have an outrageously rich commenting tool. 

  1. Zoom during commenting.

One of the fundamental things that people do when communicating in a live setting is to point to things on a page and bring that page closer in order to see more detail and be more precise about what they are talking about. New VoiceThread will have this same affordance. While recording your comment, you can now zoom in and pan around the image while you are talking, doodling on the media through it all. Your comment will contain all that movement so that your viewers will see that comment exactly as you made it. This is a major new capability that opens up whole new use cases for VoiceThreading; high resolution images and drawings can be explored and discussed in a detailed manner not available anywhere else.

  1. Jump navigation while commenting

A new slide gallery view allows you not only to view the entire collection of slides at once, but also to jump from slide 1 to slide 50 in a single click while commenting.. This means you no longer need to engage in a long slide-by-slide traversal of a media collection; you can get wherever you want during your comments instantly. 

  1. Easier login

The apparently simple act of logging into any service is anything but. Balancing the need for security with usability is perhaps one of the biggest challenges the internet faces. One of the biggest and best tools currently available is authentication via existing services like Apple, Google, and Microsoft. We have already added the Google and Apple login options, and will soon add Microsoft to the list. Not only are these services generally more secure, but they also enable enterprise management of users, which is a big win for universities, school districts, and businesses. 

  1. Integration and Interoperability

Sounds boring, but great integrations and interoperability of learning systems and data empowers learning institutions, educators, and families to increase student engagement and improve teaching and learning practices. VoiceThread has been a member of the IMS Global Learning Consortium (now 1Edtech) and the InCommon Federation for over a decade. We have highest level certification by both Project Unicorn and 1EdTech in regards to interoperability. 

  1. Efficacy

Last year VoiceThread was awarded Level IV and Level III certification for its alignment with standards outlined by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and already had a long and proven record of efficacy across a broad range of uses. There is likely no other EdTech tool with as broad a set of applications, nor as much third-party research conducted into efficacy. A small subset of that research can be found here but if you’re looking for something specific, contact us or conduct your own research starting with these + 2,700 research articles in 9 different languages.

  1. Privacy

Our review by Common Sense Media, which grades VoiceThread with an A-, places us at the very top of all EdTech tools. A- is good, but we can do better. When VoiceThread ‘s privacy policy was established over a decade ago, it was already better than any EdTech tool that we have seen.

Elevating Online Courses with Interactive Lectures on VoiceThread (part 2/3)

This is a guest post by educator and VoiceThreader Dr. Raelynne M. Hale.

Interactive Weekly Lectures through VoiceThread

The second type of VoiceThread that I use on a regular basis in my fully online, asynchronous courses is an interactive lecture. This lecture includes informational slides that I narrate to teach students about new topics as well as interaction slides where students are asked to leave text, audio, or video comments. Students may be asked to contemplate a question and to type a personal response, or they may be asked to participate in a class discussion where they share an original view or listen to another classmate’s ideas and elaborate on their thoughts. 

It is important to note that these types of student-to-student interactions work best when the students have met one another within the online course and the instructor has created an open learning environment by inviting them in and creating community in the online classroom - such as through an Introduce Yourself VoiceThread or other Ice-breaker style activities during the first week of class.

The goals of an interactive weekly lecture are to:

  • Have students see my face, hear my voice, and overall, add some human to the online world
  • Introduce and expand on content students have read or learned on their own in another format (audio-video)
  • Provide a space for students to reflect on the new topics and provide their ideas (through text and audio-video comments)
  • Provide a space for students to hear other students’ ideas and perspectives (through reading text comments made by their peers on interaction slides or listening to audio-video comments posted by their peers on discussion slides)
  • Provide a space to give class-wide feedback (through the instructor leaving public posts and comments to expand discussions and clarify ideas)
  • Create a sense of community where students learn together and not in isolation


Small Group Discussions on VoiceThread - A Few Examples

Something else that I wanted to replicate in the online environment were my rich classroom discussions. I loved having discussions with my classes and listening in on their small group discussions as I walked through the classroom answering questions and facilitating. Online, the classic text-only post-and-reply-to-2-peers discussion board just wasn’t producing the types of discussions I was hoping for. So, I got creative.

One way that I did this was by creating different slides for each discussion topic and assigning students to particular slides. This worked great and I could organize the groups each time to help students hear from and interact with different students. 

However, I also wanted students to have some autonomy and pick discussion topics they were interested in, so I began creating VoiceThreads with numbered discussion questions and maximum student limits. For example, if I had a class of 30, I would create six different discussion slides and set the discussion limit to five students per discussion question. Students would select a slide to participate on and would leave their original post, replies, expansion to replies, and thank you messages all on the slide they chose. At the end of the two-week discussion period, they were invited to listen to the other discussions if they would like, but it was not required. This style resulted in wonderful back-and-forth discussions between students, but always took two weeks to facilitate in the online environment. 

Finally, I settled on a blend of these styles. I would have students select a reading or artifact from our textbook or course materials and then they would participate on the corresponding slide in the VoiceThread. I facilitated the discussion and always made sure students had groupmates to discuss with and it worked really well! Students enjoyed being able to select topics they were interested in and the discussion thrived. 

Pro Tip: When creating discussions in an online environment, make sure to set up multiple, regular deadlines each week. For example, a typical schedule for my courses is shown below:

  • Post original comments to the discussion by Tuesday at Midnight
  • Post a reply to one peer in your discussion by Thursday at Midnight 
    • Make sure to reply to peers who do not have replies already first
  • Next week, post a reply to anyone who responded to your original comment by Tuesday at Midnight
  • Listen to the expansion comments made by your peers on your replies and leave a wrap-up and thank you message by Thursday at Midnight

As one may notice, these back-and-forth discussions take time in an online environment. Something that may have taken 30 minutes in a classroom, take two weeks to facilitate in an online environment and lots of organization and follow-up by the instructor.

These group discussions are what have made my online courses more meaningful and are often the things students enjoy the most and comment that they learned the most from in the course. It is also often the reason that students feel they have gotten to know their classmates and feel less isolated when taking online courses.

Stay tuned for part 3 in this series to learn more of the ways I use VoiceThread to engage with my students!

About the Author:

Dr. Raelynne M. Hale is a Teaching Assistant Professor at Kansas State University. You can connect with her on social media at:

Instagram: @dr.rhale

Twitter: @RaelynneMHale

Facebook: Raelynne Hale 

Elevating Online Courses with Interactive Lectures on VoiceThread (part 1/3)

This is a guest post by educator and VoiceThreader Dr. Raelynne M. Hale.

 K-State Modern Languages Logo, VoiceThread Logo, and Photo of Dr. Raelynne M. Hale and Dr. Andrea Faber.

When I began redesigning my courses online in 2018, I longed for a way for them to be interactive, engaging, and fun like my in-person courses. I wanted to make sure that students could see and hear one another each week and that they could interact with the content and me, while having the feel of being “in class” despite being on the other side of a computer screen. 

I wanted students to gain a sense of community and to experiment with the course content (and in many cases with the target language they were learning) with other students and not just through auto-graded activities with their textbooks. I wanted them to share their experiences, thoughts, and ideas, and to hear other students’ stories too. 

It took a long time and a lot of experimenting with many platforms and tools, but I found one that really took my asynchronous courses to the next level - VoiceThread!

With VoiceThread, educators can create a presentation with multimedia slides, record comments via audio, webcam, or text on each slide, then share it with their students. They can then decide how students interact with the presentation. There are currently four different assignment types:

  • students can be assigned to participate on a number of slides by leaving audio, video, or text comments and replies and will not be able to submit until they have left the required comments;
  • students can also be assigned to add additional narrated slides that they have created to the original presentation;
  • students can be assigned to simply watch the presentation their instructor has created and VoiceThread will only allow them to submit once the presentation and every slide and narration has been viewed;
  • students can be assigned to create their own presentations and share it with their classmates, who can interact with those presentations too! 

But I want to share how I have used the platform in creative ways to encourage student-to-student engagement in my courses - from lower-level Spanish language courses to graduate-level courses in translation and Environmental History. 

For a quick overview of how I use VoiceThread in engaging ways, you can watch the short video presentation that I prepared for California State University, Fullerton’s Online Education Training department when I was awarded the Virtual & Online Innovations and Curricular Enhancements (VOICE) Award in 2022.

VOICE Award Winner 2022 - Raelynne Hale - VoiceThread Engagement Activities

I will share more ideas over the next few posts, starting with the example below. I have provided a short explanation about the VoiceThread style, why I chose it, and how I set it up so that you can create your own engaging online lectures as well! Please feel free to use my materials as inspiration but do make them your own by adding your own personality and videos as authenticity is important in creating an online community and encouraging students to participate.

Creating Community - ¡Preséntate! Introduce yourself on VoiceThread!

This VoiceThread serves three main purposes: 

  1. Introduce Yourself to Students
  2. Introduce Students to the VoiceThread Tool
  3. Have Students Introduce Themselves to Each Other

During week one of each online course, I have students participate in a special VoiceThread where they will watch my tutorial and introduction slides, then create, add, and narrate their own introductory slide, and then return to watch their peers’ slides and leave replies to peers. 

This VoiceThread really helps to create community and students have said that they really feel like they are welcomed to the course, get to know their classmates, and feel less alone in the online environment. 

*Pro Tip: *This VoiceThread can be used in any course, at any level, and with any size class! If you have more than 30 students in a class, think about breaking the class into groups of 10 or 15 and having those small groups participate in a VoiceThread of their own. This way, you create community, but do not overwhelm yourself or the other students by having 100s of students participating on one VoiceThread.

(*Note: Student slides and comments have been removed to protect students’ identities in all of the VoiceThread example links on this post.)\

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 in this series to learn more of the ways I use VoiceThread to engage with my students.

About the Author:

Dr. Raelynne M. Hale is a Teaching Assistant Professor at Kansas State University. You can connect with her on social media at:

Instagram: @dr.rhale

Twitter: @RaelynneMHale

Facebook: Raelynne Hale 

6 Ways to Use VoiceThread in Math Courses

“A good teacher can guide the discussion and the flow of problems so as to allow the students to discover and invent mathematics for themselves” - A Mathematican’s Lament by Paul Lockhart

The quote above is from Paul Lockhart’s essay A Mathematician’s Lament. In the essay, Lockhart argues that the way mathematics is taught in schools is often ineffective and uninspiring. He believes that students should be encouraged to think creatively and to explore mathematical concepts for themselves. He also argues that discussion is an essential part of learning mathematics, as it allows students to share their ideas and to learn from each other.

VoiceThread can be a valuable tool for math teachers, because this is exactly what VoiceThread was designed to do: offer various ways to engage students through discussion, facilitate problem-solving, and promote mathematical thinking. Here are just some of the ways VoiceThread can be used in online math courses.

  1. Problem Solving Discussions: Teachers can upload math problems or equations to VoiceThread and ask students to provide their solutions or explanations. Students can respond with voice, webcam, or text comments, sharing their thought processes, strategies, and reasoning. This encourages critical thinking, collaboration, and the exploration of different problem-solving approaches.
  2. Visual Representations: VoiceThread allows for the uploads of images, diagrams, graphs, and videos too. Math teachers can upload visual representations of mathematical concepts, such as geometric figures, coordinate planes, or data charts. Students can analyze and discuss these visuals, identifying patterns, making connections, and applying mathematical concepts by using the Doodle Tool to annotate on the slides.
  3. Math Explanations and Tutorials: Students can create math explanations and tutorials using VoiceThread. They can record their voice or add text comments to explain mathematical concepts, demonstrate problem-solving steps, or provide examples. This allows for peer-to-peer learning, reinforces understanding, and develops communication and instructional skills.
  4. Math Discussions and Debates: VoiceThread enables asynchronous math discussions and debates. Teachers can pose math-related questions or prompts, and students can respond with their voice, webcam, or text comments, engaging in meaningful discussions. This encourages students to justify their mathematical reasoning, consider alternative perspectives, and deepen their understanding of mathematical concepts.
  5. Math Investigations and Projects: VoiceThread can support math investigations and projects. Students can upload their work, such as data sets, graphs, or mathematical models, and explain their findings or conclusions through voice, webcam, or text comments. This allows for the sharing of research, collaboration, and the presentation of mathematical concepts in a multimedia format.
  6. Math Reflections and Self-Assessment: VoiceThread can be used for math reflections and self-assessment. Students can record their reflections on their math learning, discussing their strengths, challenges, and areas for improvement. They can also assess their own work by providing voice or text comments on their solutions or mathematical reasoning.

These are just a few examples of how VoiceThread can be used by math teachers. The platform’s multimedia capabilities, interactive features, and collaborative nature make it a versatile tool for enhancing math instruction, promoting student engagement, and fostering mathematical thinking and communication.