VoiceThread: Creating Interactive & Collaborative Presentations

the Web 2.0 Way

Presented by Diane Stonebrink, ESL Faculty, Estrella Mountain Community College

MCCDs Teaching & Learning with Technology Conference, May 13, 2008


5-14-08 Post presentation note:  Thanks to all who participated!  Please feel free to experiment with VoiceThread by adding comments and images to the VoiceThread we started together in the May 13th session.  You can access it by clicking on this link: http://voicethread.com/share/131128/

I'll  be checking in on that VoiceThread periodically throughout the summer to listen & respond to comments or questions there.  If you have trouble accessing the board, it might be that I mistyped your email address that you wrote on the blue index cards during the session.  If so, please don't hesitate to email me so that I may correct the error.

email:  diane.stonebrink@estrellamountain.edu


to download a Word document of the following information, click here


voicethread presentation screenshot2.jpg


 In this presentation, attendees will:

See examples of how VoiceThreads can be used for educational purposes in various disciplines;

Learn about account types & Sign up for a free account;

See the different Sharing Options (participation settings) a VoiceThread creator can enable;

Participate in a VoiceThread by making text or audio comments for others to respond to;

Collaboratively edit a VoiceThread by uploading documents & images to the presentation.


What is a VoiceThread? 

from the website:   A VoiceThread is an online media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in 5 different ways - using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam) - and share them with anyone they wish. They can even be exported to an Archival Movie for offline use on a DVD or video-enabled MP3 player. A VoiceThread allows group conversations to be collected and shared in one place, from anywhere in the world. http://voicethread.com/about/


How can you use VoiceThread for teaching & learning? 

VoiceThread designers collaborated with Information Technology Services at the University of North Carolina to create a portal for a pilot project.  The website http://voicethread.unc.edu/ gives sample VoiceThreads to show how the application can be used to:

Demonstrate | Explain | Interpret | Practice | Analyze | Report | Critique | Show off | Have fun


  Is it free?

Yes and no.

For participants, it is completely free.  Registration is fast (email & password thats it!). 

For creators of a VoiceThread presentation, it is free with some limitations.  If your college department or you are willing to spend some money, you get more.


 As of 5/08, the 3 account options for higher ed instructors are:

1.  Free Account

  • create 3 VoiceThreads (50 slides each)
  • 75 MB of storage
  • 3 phone commenting minutes
  • no uploading MP3 comments
  • 30 min webcam commenting
  • Archival Movie exports, $2.99
  • the presence of advertising
  • single file size limit of 25 MB
  • no downloads of your media
  • send 50 invitations per day

2.  Pro Account

  • create unlimited # of Threads
  • 10 GB of storage
  • 1 hour of phone commenting
  • upload MP3 comments
  • unlimited webcam commenting
  • 30 Archival Movie exports
  • no advertising anywhere
  • single file size limit of 100MB
  • allow downloads of your media
  • send 500 invitations per day

3.  Higher Ed Account


What useful features does VoiceThread have?

Well see & practice many of these when we get to the hands-on practice part.  The website also gives many simple, clear tutorials on these (go to http://voicethread.com/#c28 the tutorials will also appear on your MyVoice page after you create an account).


What useful features does it NOT have now but WILL have soon?

The VoiceThread designers are actively improving it on a monthly (sometimes weekly) basis.  Changes are announced on their blog:  http://voicethread.com/blog/

They are very open to users suggestions, which can be posted in the websites Forum section:  http://voicethread.com/help/forum/


As of 5/08, VoiceThreads did not yet have the (designers say theyre in the works), ability for:


*Wimba does this.   
I am an active, long-time user of Wimba Voice Boards, Voice Presentations, and its Oral Assessment Builder. 
I am a relatively new user of VoiceThreads.  Based on my experience using the two tools with ESL students, I feel that:

**Not necessarily a bad thing.  Studies show students prefer to listen to podcasts that capture natural, authentic speech.  Take it from a linguist reading copy aloud is harder for listeners to process.  Dont be afraid to record comments for a VoiceThread by just talking directly into the microphone as if you were in front of your classes.  Pauses, ums & uhs, and even throat-clearing are fine!


Time for Hands-on Practice! 

  1. Write your email on the classroom board so I can add you to my friends list in my VoiceThread account.  Ill need this to enable editing rights for you on a VoiceThread we create together shortly.

  2. Click on the following link to go to google.com > images (or elsewhere if you prefer).  Find & download an image to your desktop (or jumpdrive) that youd like to use to represent you (VoiceThreads default image is just a silhouette).

  3. Also find & download an image that represents your hometown or a favorite location.  Save this image to your desktop or jumpdrive too.

  4. Open a Word document and write a few sentences that describe your interests or any other quirky information youd like to share (e.g., interesting things youve done or seen).  Save this document to your desktop or jumpdrive too.  Youll share the hometown image & this Word doc in our collaborative VoiceThread.

  5. Go to http://voicethread.com.  Click the words Sign in or Register at the upper right.  Dont add your email yet!  First, click on the gold word Register! near the bottom of the sign in box.  Then, type in the name you want displayed when you participate in a VoiceThread (dont worry, you can always edit this name later), your email address twice, and a password that is at least 6 characters in length.

  6. While waiting for others to finish the first 5 steps, spend some time clicking around the VoiceThread site.  Look at some  examples or view the tutorials.

  7. Diane will show you a few basic features (e.g., how to invite people to a VoiceThread) and Sharing Options (participation settings) that you can enable when you create your own VoiceThreads for students to use. 


This VoiceThread has a Sharing Option of Private enabled.  Youll notice that even though the thread is embedded in this public web page, or even if you click on the url above, you wont be able to enter the presentation at all youll only get a message that says you need to request its creator to invite you to it.  Only people whom the creator invites can view the presentation.

To, From, In, At, On? Prepositions with Places

This VoiceThread has a Sharing Option of Public, no comments enabled.  When you click the triangular play button in the embedded presentation to the right or on the url above, you will be able to enter the presentation and see/hear the slides, but you wont be able to record or type in any comments you wont even see the webcam, microphone, or type icons as options at all. 

English Language Study Talking about Age

This VoiceThread has a Sharing Option of Public, yes comments.  When you click the triangular play button in the embedded presentation to the right or on the url above, you will be able to enter the thread &see/hear the slides, and you will be able to record or type in any comments you will see the webcam, microphone, and type icons.  However, you wont be able to upload any new slides or edit the existing ones because Diane hasnt enabled this for you.


VoiceThread:  Creating Presentations the Web 2.0 Way


Okay, lets build a presentation together! 
Click on the url above
and sign in.  This VoiceThread has a Sharing Option of Private, plus Diane added your email to her friends list & enabled Editing rights for you (the thread creator can do this to Public threads too), so now you can upload/add, move, & change slides (& comment, of course).  The only thing you cant do is delete the entire presentation.  Only the thread creator can delete an entire VoiceThread.

There are several more editing capabilities and display options available, but you can easily learn them by going through the tutorials on the VoiceThread site, and then practicing on your own.   Its easy!   If you have any questions, please email me at diane.stonebrink@estrellamountain.edu.  

If you'd like a copy of a Word document handout that I use with my ESL students that has screenshots and simple directions on how to sign up for a VoiceThread account and participate in a VoiceThread, download by clicking here.