Mod 5: Teaching with Technology: VoiceThreads

Creating Student Interaction and a Sense of Community in and Online Class 

Many students have expressed feelings of isolation or disengagement in their online courses; and these feelings have been linked to high attrition rates in online courses (Kidd, 2013). Studies have shown that online courses that support a high level of student engagement lead to improved student satisfaction and academic success (Kidd, 2013; Howland, 2014). Instructors who create online courses with strong student-student, student-instructor, and student-content interactions tend to achieve greater student outcomes.

The Use and Benefits of VoiceThread to Promote Student Engagement

VoiceThread is an asynchronous collaborative tool that enables users to create engaging multimedia online discussions that foster a sense of community (Kidd, 2013; Howland, 2014). As a pedagogical tool, instructors can use VoiceThread to create online lessons that allow students to actively participate and partake in understanding online content. For example, an instructor can create a VoiceThread that contains an image and then ask students questions that require a voice response. After a student records their response, another student can then listen and formulate a voice or text answer. What occurs is an interactive asynchronous voice dialog. In her study, Kidd found that both graduate and undergraduate students felt not only a strong connection with the instructor and classmates when using VoiceThreads, but also experienced a feeling of greater involvement and a better understanding of course content (2013).

VoiceThreads can also be used to provide student feedback. Howland (2014) made a suggestion that a VoiceThread could be used to provide oral and written feedback within student assignments. By using voice and on screen notes, students experience the sense that a “real” person is providing the feedback (Howland, 2014).

Other Uses for VoiceThread include turning a power point presentation into an interactive lesson in an online course. An instructor can ask questions on particular slides and have students respond, critique, and debate each other. The interaction among students using their voices brings a sense of personalization and connectedness to the online course (Kidd, 2013).

VoiceThread is one tool that can be used to increase social presence and student interaction in an online course—a needed pedagogy to increase student satisfaction and retention in online education.

~ Sharon


Howland, J. (2014). Let’s talk VoiceThread! Supporting communication in online courses. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education, pp. 856-861.

Kidd, J., (2013). Evaluating VoiceThread for online content delivery and student interaction: Effects on classroom community. Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, 1 pp. 2158–2162.


11 responses to “Mod 5: Teaching with Technology: VoiceThreads

  1. Sharon,

    I have used technology similar to VoiceThread in the weekly class discussion. The voice attachment software that was in Educator LMS allowed voice feedback with graded papers.

    This was very popular with the students but we lost this function with new LMS swap around 2007.

    The voice thread software that we once had allowed instructors to make a short voice recording that was attachable and playable anywhere within the LMS. It was easy to use, quick, and was helpful to students. Not all LMS are created equal and when the college or university switches it can change teaching strategies.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Mark B


    • HI Mark, I chose this technology because I have never used it before. I created an account with VoiceThread and created a file. I would like to use this in my online critical thinking class–I just have to see how it fit pedagogically. I can’t wait to show it to other faculty members. It seems easy to use and the link can be posted into Bb. ~ Sharon


  2. Sharon,

    I really enjoyed using the audio file for feedback and to spark engagement. Anything that the students find useful is worth exploring. At my university we now have to stay within the LMS so I am limited, but at my college I still have outside sources I can use to help enhance learning opportunities.

    Mark B


  3. Hi Sharon,

    I have never heard of VoiceThread but I like the ideas you presented and how to use it. I am also looking for ways to engage students outside of the classroom.
    I am actually currently using Twitter for the first time in 2 of my classes, and so far I am enjoying it. I have been taking the time to respond to each and every on of them. I use it to build upon a lesson just taught and/or use it to setup the foundation for an upcoming lesson.

    I do agree that education in general needs to implement new strategies that will fully engage the students in and out of the classroom.



  4. Hi Sharon,

    Like Joshua I too have never heard of Voice Thread. What strikes me from your post here is that it sounds like VoiceThread is trying to mimic an actual interactive classroom. This has me thinking: is the classroom our gold standard? Are we trying to replicate interaction and connectedness? I wonder if any technology will ever be able to replace F2F interaction.

    The other part of my questions about Voice Thread are that I cannot imagine how it wouldn’t be confusing if everyone were leaving messages. Is it realistic to go over them? How does this connect people when it is listened to ex post facto? Can an instructor really listen to everyone?

    I’m also curious now to understand if audio aids instruction, would software like VT be useful in an online course as well.

    Clearly I need to see this in action to fully appreciate it all.

    Thanks for opening up my world once again, girl!



  5. Hi Josh,
    I would encourage you to try VoiceThread. I have only played around with it, but it looks like a great tool to engage students.

    I have never used Twitter, so I may come to you for some ideas on how to use it in the classroom. 🙂 ~ Sharon


  6. HI Cecile, It is going to be interesting to see how higher education evolves. Personally, I do not think we will see the demise of the brick and mortar college in our lifetime. 🙂 However, when online education offers students complete perception of social belonging and connectedness, I believe this methodology will grow even more. New technologies are being developed every day that offer innovative ways for people to connect and share information and knowledge. We are still in the innovative stage of online learning.

    When I researched information about VoiceThread, my thoughts turned to taking a discussion board forum and digitizing it. Instead of written responses, a verbal exchange could occur. Students would not necessarily have to respond to everyone–groups could be set up. Of course, this would only be one example of how to utilize VoiceThread. ~ Sharon


  7. Hello Sharon. This sounds like a great tool for online classes. Does the interaction have to occur at a certain time or can the students leave messages/responses whenever they are able? I especially liked the idea of a teacher being able to pose questions during slides and then the students being able to reply. Since you have taught some online courses, how would you use this technology? Could you see this working with what you do? Can you see any barriers to students utilizing this technology?


    • Hi Debi, VoiceThread is an asynchronous tool; so, instructors can pose questions and students can answer at any time. I am going to try this tool this summer in my critical thinking online class. I want to try something simple at first; so, I may post a link to a cartoon–possibly a non-sequitur comic and ask students to reflect on its meaning as it relates to critical thinking. Teaching students to use this technology is the most prominent barrier I can see at this time. 🙂 ~Sharon


  8. Looks like a cool online tool. I wonder how it works with some LMS? Since you are a heretic (You BlackBoard user you!) I would guess that it must come with your LMS? I will mark this down and see if it is in our new LMS which will definitely not be BB.


  9. Hi Jim, :))) Actually, I will have to put a link to this software in Bb. It is a Web 2.0 tool outside of Bb. :((( ~ Sharon


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