A&S Learning Design & Technology Knowledge Base

General Tips for Using VoiceThread at UVA

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Give Directions to Students (if your VoiceThread is an activity)

Given the asynchronous format of VoiceThread, you’ll want to provide clear, detailed instructions to students, to avoid confusion and a flurry of explanatory emails. Some tips: 

  1. Your first slide (or two slides) should contain instructions. 
    • Use comments (audio, video, or text) to explain what students should do. 
    • Create your instructions in a Word document and upload that document (it will become a slide). 
  2. If you need students to break into small groups to complete an activity (a discussion, for example), use a visual such as an uploaded document or color-coding of slides, to clarify how students should divide themselves up.
  3. If you’re creating an assignment via VoiceThread’s Assignment Builder:
    • In the Assignment Builder, you can give directions. For reinforcement, though, we recommend also including these directions as a comment on your first slide.
    • Check your assignment directions before you “Create Assignment.” At present, there are no options to alter an assignment (or even view it) once you’ve clicked the “Create Assignment” button. 

Use VoiceThread in Collab

Create one link to VoiceThread in your left-hand menu, or use the LESSONS tool to create multiple links to individual Voicethreads or assignments.

Assign work to students via Assignment Builder

Use the Assignment Builder to make assignments, so that you can track students’ contributions efficiently (and more easily add grade information to your Collab Gradebook).

Record effective comments

Make comments one slide at a time. Doing this makes it much easier to fix a long audio/video presentation, because if you make a mistake, you only have to re-record one comment and not your whole presentation. 


Use multi-slide commenting to compare and contrast slides, or if you need to walk through a series of connected steps.

Use auto-caption to make your content more accessible

  1. To turn them on, click the CC button in the upper right of your screen and set them to EN-US.
  2. Refresh. 
  3. When you play any video or audio comment, auto-generated English captions should appear. 
  4. Captions are time-stamped and can be edited by clicking the CC inside of a comment.
  5. Caption language can not be changed.

Stay organized: give every VoiceThread a title

Use Private Replies to Comments as needed

When you click on a user’s comment, make a private reply by clicking the ‘lock’ button.

Manage your Notifications

This site provides some useful information on how to change your notifications.

Speed up a thread to speed up grading

You can increase the speed of a VoiceThread comment if you’d like to move more quickly through a presentation. Click the “1X” in the lower left corner of a thread you are viewing to see options to adjust the speed.

Groups vs. Classes

Larger classes can benefit from setting up groups, so that smaller numbers of students end up commenting on each slide or slideshow. VoiceThreads can feel cluttered when too many people are commenting!

Consider making .pdf and .jpegs of your Powerpoint slides

Converting your slides before importing from powerpoint or keynote directly into VoiceThread significantly improves image quality.

Two ways to convert a powerpoint for use in VoiceThread

  1. Save as PDF and then import to VoiceThread
    1. Save your .ppt file as a .pdf and then import it into VoiceThread.
    2. From one pdf, each slide of your PowerPoint will import as separate slides in your VoiceThread in one easy step.
    3. Be sure to view each slide to ensure it is imported as expected.
  2. Save slides as JPEG then import to VoiceThread
    1. Save your .ppt file slides as JPEG formatted images (using the ‘Save As’ dropdown in PowerPoint). Each slide in your PowerPoint will save as a JPEG file. 
    2. In this case, you would need to import each slide one at a time. This is why we recommend trying .pdf method first.
    3. Be sure to view each slide to ensure it is imported as expected.

Best practices for creating VoiceThread slides.

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