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Teaching and Learning Tip #27: Giving "Voice" to Presentations and Your Students

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Tip #27: Giving “Voice” to Presentations and Your Students

Contributed by Armeda Reitzel, Communication

Are you looking for a way to make your powerpoint or Google slide presentations more exciting and interactive?  Would you like to share more of your personality and build community? Do you want your students to engage with the material on the slides through discussions? Would you like an engaging tool for students to create?

The answer to these questions comes down to an app, an app that is available to use in Canvas or without: VoiceThread!

So what is a VoiceThread?

A VoiceThread is a multimedia slideshow that invites interaction and collaboration. Comments may be made via a webcam, text, audio file and/or voice. A VoiceThread is like a graphic novel that allows both the author and their audience to share ideas, questions and feedback.  VoiceThread supports threaded conversations. The media can be videos, photographs, charts, and other images that are put into a slideshow with text captioning and/or audio voiceover. Documents can be uploaded into the slideshow.  There is a lot of room for creativity in a VoiceThread presentation.

For a quick eighty-second definition of a VoiceThread, watch the video “What’s a VoiceThread anyway?”  As the video states at the end, a VoiceThread is capable of “transforming media into interactive discussions, simply.”    

How can I use VoiceThread in my course?

VoiceThread is very versatile.  It can be used in a face-to-face, hybrid or online course.  If you want to see some examples of VoiceThreads in different disciplines, check out VoiceThreads in Higher Education.  A great guide with lots of suggestions is How to Humanize Your Online Class with VoiceThread.  Here’s an example of Dr. Reitzel’s Quotation VoiceThread assignment that she uses in her Communication 100 class.

VoiceThread can be used to present new information and/or review a presentation done in class in a fun and interesting way.  It is even a great way to give directions to assignments and feedback on students’ work.

VoiceThread can be used to create community in a course.  Instructors could make a VoiceThread introducing themselves to their classes.  It can be a way for students to introduce themselves to their peers and their instructor.  For example, a VoiceThread assignment can be used as an ice breaker. VoiceThreads provide great forums for focused discussions among peers.  It is a natural way to get and keep a discussion organized and thoughtful. Students can comment directly on the slide that they are talking about.  They can respond to the comments and questions of peers directly in a threaded discussion. A group VoiceThread project is a terrific way for students to work together to present information to the rest of the class.  


Scholarly Articles on VoiceThread:

  • Lofton, J. (2010). Using VoiceThread for Online Communication. School Librarian's Workshop, 30(3), 9.
  • Pecot-Hebert, L. (2012). To Hybrid or Not to Hybrid, That is the Question! Incorporating VoiceThread Technology into a Traditional Communication Course. Communication Teacher, 26(3), 129-134.
Humboldt State University