VoiceThread Roadmap for Fall 2017

What’s New in 2017

Say Goodbye to Flash! 

Our transition away from Flash has been an ongoing project over the last four years. Not unlike re-building a plane in flight, it required keeping in mind that VoiceThreaders all over the world were counting on us to keep the conversations going no matter what. It’s been a long road, but now you don’t need any Flash whatsoever to use VoiceThread.  The new HTML5 version looks and feels the same while offering new features and increased security.  You can move from Flash to HTML5 any time between August 1 and December 31, 2017. Try it out now!

Adjustable Playback Speed  

Now you can speed up or slow down audio and video comments.  Not only will this save you a lot of time if you need to listen to a long conversation, but it also improves accessibility by allowing people to adjust a speaker’s delivery to meet their own individual processing speed. When you move to the HTML5 version of VoiceThread, you’ll get access to the adjustable playback speed automatically.  

Accessibility Updates 

In addition to adjustable playback speed, you can now increase text comment size.  Just click on the “T” icons at the bottom of any text comment to make it larger or smaller.

Professional Development Courses 

Over 150 educators have already been certified as VoiceThread experts!  We offer new cohorts of the VoiceThread Certified Educator Course every month.  This summer we also added a one-week course titled “Teaching Languages with VoiceThread”, where participants engage with interactive course content and then complete a final project for certification.

If you’re interested in participating in future cohorts, please add your name to the waitlist:

Privacy/Security/Terms of Service  

While it doesn’t sound exciting, updates to VoiceThread’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy are a big deal! We’ve made our policies clearer and completed Privacy Shield Certification and iKeepSafe reviews for COPPA and FERPA compliance. These updates have allowed more schools and institutions to adopt VoiceThread for their students.

Ed.VoiceThread (K-12) users:

VoiceThread.com (higher education and commercial) users:

Google Drive Integration 

Easily pull your content from your Google Drive via the VT Media Sources. No more downloading-then-uploading; just pull your files directly into a VoiceThread. Whether you use a Chromebook or simply store all of your media in Google Drive, this will simplify and speed up your creation workflows.

Limiting Comment Length   

VoiceThread offers commenters the freedom to record for up to 60 minutes at a time, but sometimes constrictions can actually be a good thing! We’ve added the option for VoiceThread authors to limit comments on their VoiceThreads to any amount of time they’d like. Use it for speech practice, timed presentations, or even just to keep a conversation succinct.

PechaKucha and Ignite Presentations  

As an extension of comment time limits, VoiceThreaders can now create simple ways to set up PechaKucha and Ignite presentations.  We’ll limit comment times and even advance your slides automatically as you record based on the presentation format you choose. You can even adjust those restrictions to create your own variations on these styles.

Mobile Updates  

This year we’ve streamlined the process for building a VoiceThread and made it much simpler for students to submit their graded assignments using an LTI integration in your LMS.

PowerPoint Audio  

Sometimes students and instructors will record audio narration directly onto their PowerPoint slides before they upload them to VoiceThread. Now when you upload those PPT files into VoiceThread, that audio will be included on your VoiceThread slides automatically.

More Space for Students  

Some students are building impressive portfolios in VoiceThread, and they need a little more elbow room.  We’ve expanded all student accounts to have room for 200 VoiceThreads so they can continue building and VoiceThreading.

Import Larger Files 

As recording devices and smartphones become more sophisticated, even short videos are getting larger and larger. We’ve doubled the file size limit for VoiceThread uploads so that you can keep using your videos easily. You can now upload files that are up to 3 GB each.


What’s Next?

Expanded Conversation Channel

An “expanded” view of the avatar channel will enable you to see commenters’ names, time stamps, and type of comment at a glance. People who need quick access to all of that information about each comment will find the expanded view a great fit.

List View of Slides

If you click on the postcard icon near the bottom-right corner of a VoiceThread, you see all of the slides laid out on one page. This is handy for jumping to other slides quickly. It’s also the place to go if you want to see slides that other people have added to your VoiceThread. We’re working on a “list view” of your slides so you can see at a glance who added each slide and when.

Accessibility Updates

VoiceThread Universal allows users of screen readers to access VoiceThread in a format designed especially for them.  It puts the elements of the page in an order that makes sense to a screen reader and removes any other information from the page. We’re expanding VoiceThread Universal to include sharing workflows, new-comment notifications, and better integration with learning management systems.  

We’re also enhancing VT Universal to be more mobile friendly. This will help mobile screen readers access content even more easily.

Finally, we are adding Cielo24 to our list of third-party closed-caption integrations. 3Play Media, CaptionSync, and Amara are supported already.

Courses and Assignments

Last semester we announced that we’re working on VoiceThread Courses, which will enhance the way you organize your VoiceThread content for individual courses. This is a large project with lots of moving parts, but we’re continuing to work hard on it.  One of the first elements we plan to release is a more robust assignments platform.  We’ll be improving the existing assignment options included in the LTI integration by offering tighter due date controls, new assignment types, and more flexible grading frameworks.

New Comment Controls + Pecha Kucha and Ignite

Flexibility is one of VoiceThread’s strengths as an instructional tool, but sometimes restrictions can actually bring focus to a learning experience and make it much more engaging for students. We’ve just included two new features that allow instructors to do just that.

Setting the Maximum Comment Length

By default, audio and video comments recorded in VoiceThread can be up to 60 minutes long. Now you can set a shorter limit for comments for any VoiceThread you’ve created. Use this feature for speech practice, timed presentations, or even just to keep a conversation more succinct.

Pecha Kucha and Ignite Presentations

As an extension of comment time limits, we’re including simple ways to set up Pecha Kucha and Ignite presentations. These have strict rules and constrictions, requiring the presenter to give a very focused and condensed presentation. We’ll limit comment times and advance your slides automatically as you record based on the rules of the presentation format you choose. You can even adjust those restrictions to create your own variations on these styles.

Limiting Comment Types

Don’t forget that you can also decide which types of comments are permitted in your VoiceThread, too. If you don’t want any text comments, just turn them off!\

Click below to learn more about how to adjust all of these settings.

Please contact pro-support@voicethread.com with any questions.

Course: Teaching Languages with VoiceThread

We are proud to announce a new online course for language teachers! Join us and discover how to design powerful VoiceThread lessons and assessments for your language learners. This week-long course is designed to give you a genuine learning experience through lesson analysis, discussion, and creation.

There is a live info session webinar before the course starts, but the course is asynchronous, so you can participate when you have time throughout each day.

If this course is filled, please add your contact information to the waitlist.

About the Course

– How much does it cost?
The registration fee is $99.

– Is the info session mandatory?
No. We hope you can join us to get a tour of the course and ask any questions you have during the webinar, but if you cannot join us we will send you the recording as soon as the session concludes.

– Will I get a certificate?
Yes.  Participants who complete all of the work will receive a certification acknowledging that they completed the course.

– How many hours will it take to complete?
It depends on how familiar you are with VoiceThread, but expect to spend 3-4 hours during the week reviewing tutorials, participating in discussions, and creating your final project.

– How is the course structured?
The course is completely asynchronous, so there are no specific meeting times. We will share a variety of VoiceThreads from actual language courses and engage in brainstorm discussions and analysis of their design. The course includes a final project where participants design and create a short VoiceThread lesson or assessment. The course facilitators will review the projects and supply personalized feedback on each one.

– What are the learning outcomes?
By the end of this course, you will be empowered to create dynamic, engaging language lessons and assessments using VoiceThread. You will learn how to create VoiceThreads, make comments, and use Comment Moderation for assessments. You will also learn and share effective pedagogy and assessment strategies with the facilitators and other participants.

– Is there an enrollment cap for the course?
Yes. We are capping the course enrollment at 70 participants so that we can give each educator personal feedback, guidance, and support throughout the course.


– Will this course be offered again?
We plan to offer the course again but do not have specific dates scheduled yet. If you cannot join us for this one, please add your name to the waitlist, and we will notify you when another course is available.

If you have any questions about the course that aren’t answered above, drop us a note at info@voicethread.com** **and we will be happy to answer them.

We look forward to working with you!

Look Ma, No Flash!

VoiceThread’s transition away from Flash has been an ongoing project over the last four years. Not unlike re-building a plane in flight, it required keeping in mind that VoiceThreaders all over the world were counting on us to keep the conversations going no matter what. It wasn’t easy, but as of today you don’t need any Flash whatsoever to use VoiceThread. The new HTML5 version looks and feels the same while offering new features like adjustable playback speed, streamlined audio/video recording, and increased security. In short, it’s a win win.

As an administrator, you can test it yourself first and then enable it for all of your users when you’re ready. We’ll continue to support the Flash-based version until January 1, 2018. Click the button below to learn more about how to make the switch and find answers to commonly asked questions.

Please contact pro-support@voicethread.com with any questions.


A Global Collaborative Project for Grades 3-8

This is a guest post by VoiceThread Certified Educator, Christine Trimnell.


Have you ever participated in a global project before?
If you answered ‘no’ then this could be your opportunity to trial one!
We are looking for 16 classes across the world to ‘have a go’ with their students (grades 3-8).

Topic: Can we work together to save the endangered animals of the world?”

Objective of Project

To provide an opportunity for teachers who are new to online global projects to participate and gain insight into the many benefits of joining such projects.

Subscription cost: FREE!


This free online global project (offered twice in 2017) and managed by Flat Connections will provide educators and students the opportunity to work with others from different schools to satisfy curriculum objectives across a range of subjects. VoiceThread is a perfect tool to use in global projects as it allows students to communicate, collaborate and co-create across countries. It will be one of the main tools to be used in this new project.

The collaboration will explore and share understandings and research around the following:

  • Interdependence of living creatures
  • Sustainability of animal environments
  • Evaluation of past and current practices on animal survival
  • Design of possible solutions for future action


Why should you join your class to this global project?

This project is designed to meet standards and learning objectives across different systems and countries including:

  • Literacy and digital technologies objectives
  • Sustainable development goals (UNESCO)
  • Global competency and Intercultural understanding
  • 21C skills and understandings
  • Effective online global collaboration practices and strategies

(NOTE for Australian Schools: Click on this link to see a table of specific curriculum tie-ins. You’ll be amazed at the curriculum objectives that can be satisfied!)


Project Details

The project will run for SIX weeks (preceded by a week of teacher preparation). In this time educators and their students will connect, share and collaborate around project design and implementation.

Details of the project, dates, and an application form can be accessed via:

About the Author:
Christine Trimnell is an ICT Specialist at Pakenham Lakeside Primary School in Melbourne, Australia. Christine is the co-writer of the above project and she is passionate about the benefits of participating in well designed and managed global projects. She was therefore thrilled by the recent announcement that named her as an awardee of The Great Global Project Challenge:

Free* (strings attached)

Participating in a VoiceThread conversation is free and unlimited. People around the world use VoiceThread to capture and share their voices, and this has resulted in some amazing examples of human expression and collaboration. All that’s required to register for a Free account is a valid email address. VoiceThread does, however, have an number of accounts that offer upgraded creative and management features, and here’s why:

“Free” services are never actually free. Understanding the revenue model of any service that you use should be important to you, particularly if that service involves the creation, storing, and transport of student data. If you are reading this, it’s likely that you care about this issue as well, so here is what you can say to anyone who asks about VoiceThread and our use of student data: VoiceThread does not secretly sell your student data to anyone and we never will. Our revenue comes directly from subscriptions, no strings attached.


It’s a simple and old-fashioned proposition that provides clarity and transparency to our users. The funds that come from premium subscriptions go toward employing the Development Team who create and maintain VoiceThread, and the Support Team who help you use and implement VoiceThread successfully. They also go toward the world class datacenters that keep VoiceThread humming along with over 99.9% up-time every year. There are few companies, even those 100 times our size, that can match that record, and it is no accident.

Our team is simply passionate about their work and strives to “do it right” every time. If VoiceThread, or any other service you may use, is an important part of the way that you teach, create, and collaborate online, think about what you are actually trading to get a “free” product.

We realize that “free” is an attractive word, but don’t forget that companies who give away products aren’t staffed by volunteers. No one hosts and supports their edtech tools because they are simply kind-hearted. They are in business for the same reason as every other company: to make money. To paraphrase Douglas Rushkoff, if the money isn’t coming from you, then you’re not the customer; you’re the product.

Using VoiceThread for Field Trip Reflections

This is a guest post by educator and VoiceThreader, Austin Fleischer.


One of the biggest challenges with technology in education today is trying to navigate through the enormous amount of apps and websites that are available. I have been fortunate enough to work in a district that is one to one with technology. This has allowed me to explore a large variety of apps and create a list that we call our Core Tools. VoiceThread is one of our core tools that we use inside my classroom on a regular basis.

Our Core Tools allow us to create and collaborate with each other. VoiceThread has the unique ability to do both.  It is as simple as you creating a question for the students and they can answer it using their voice, video, or text. The students answer the question on their own then you can listen to it later. All of the students’ answers are kept together and with a click of a button they play one after another. It is an easy way to check for understanding of a topic from all subject areas.

One way that I have used VoiceThread in my classroom is after our field trip to the City of Fairview Park. The students had an opportunity to visit all the departments of City Hall as part of our local government unit. After the field trip I created a VoiceThread and asked them what their favorite part of City Hall was or one new thing that they learned. I was even able to attach a photo from the field trip that the students could see as they answered the question. Once all the students responded to the question we listened to each other’s answers as a class. This was a great way to reflect back on our field trip and have a discussion about what we learned and saw.

After we listened to each other’s answers it was just a few clicks to email your entire VoiceThread or share it to Twitter.

My favorite part about VoiceThread is it allows you freedom to use it in many different areas inside the classroom. I tend to use it a lot for my students’ morning work or at the end of a lesson as a quick assessment. It also allows students who tend to not raise their hand to have a voice without being nervous about speaking in front of a whole classroom. The students can edit their comments if they do not like how it sounds the first time. If VoiceThread is not one of your Core Tools I highly recommend that you make it one.

About the author

Austin has been been an elementary school teacher for the past 7 years and has always found ways to use technology to enhance my students’ learning.  When he started teaching he would bring his own projector and iPad into the classroom. Currently, Austin work in the Fairview Park City Schools which is One to One with devices at all grade levels. Follow him on twitter @apfleischer and check out some of the amazing things his students have been able to create!

Transforming an LMS Group Wiki Assignment to VoiceThread

This is a guest post by educator and VoiceThread Certified Educator, Curtis Izen.

Each semester, I try refining or creating a new assignment.  In my online MIS course, the students are grouped into teams of 4-5 students. Their assignment is to create a group wiki on an emerging technology in business. Using the wiki tools from their LMS, they are tasked to add any multimedia, text or links to make their wiki as engaging and informational as possible. The end result is threefold:  (1) they learned quite a bit from their research, (2) the wiki doesn’t appear striking as it could be and (3) there is no verbal collaboration with the final product.

My goal was to change this to a more interactive and dynamic activity. First, I had the groups do the same assignment, but in a PowerPoint presentation. This was a tool they were already comfortable with. They were able to add mashups and were not limited by the tools from their LMS. This also provided them with a marketable skill where they learned new features.   

Using Google Docs, the teams worked on their PowerPoint presentation. When approximately 2 weeks were left to the semester, these PowerPoint presentations where then converted to PDF. Subsequently, they were uploaded to VoiceThread. Once in VoiceThread, each group was tasked with the following:  every slide needed a voice comment.  In addition, at least one of the slides needed to be a video comment from every member in the group. Doodling and Multi-slide (M/5) comments was encouraged. 

When the assignment was due and no further edits were permitted, I opened up all the groups VoiceThreads to the entire class. My next assignment is really where VoiceThread excelled. Every student needed to watch and go through all of the VoiceThreads including their own. I created a final slide on each VoiceThread which was a comment slide.  All students needed to do a voice or video comment on what they (a) learned from that VoiceThread regarding the emerging technology and (b) what they liked or felt needed improvement on the VoiceThread presentation. 


I was astonished hearing how much they learned from other classmates. On a number of occasions, students responded on their classmate’s VoiceThread how they were going to use the presented technology in their own business or life. It was also enlightening hearing how student’s learned from listening to the critique on their own VoiceThread from their peers. 

Take inventory of your current assignments. If you find that there are one or more that lacks engagement or collaboration with the class, consider how VoiceThread can make that happen.


About the Author: Curtis Izen is a senior information associate and VoiceThread Certified Educator. Curtis adjuncts online and face to face courses at Baruch College and the School of Professional Studies at the City University of New York. Curtis is passionate on bringing new philosophies and technology into the curriculum. He is a 2 time recipient of the Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Teaching and Pedagogy at Baruch College.

Presentations, Virtual Meetings, and Substitute Plans: What CAN'T VoiceThread Do?

This is a guest post by educator and VoiceThreader, John Briese.


These days teachers are embracing technology as a way to improve their instruction and help students find a deeper connection to their content.  However, I talk to teachers all the time whose concern is that the only “technology” they have used in class is having their students create a PowerPoint.  Therefore, my challenge has been to find the next step for them to take that will not overwhelm them, but will also help them move forward with introducing more 21st Century skills into their classes.

Enter VoiceThread, a collaborative communication tool that gives students a voice, and allows them to interact with each other’s presentations.  It is user-friendly enough to allow developing technology teachers to take the next step, and has the tools that will allow advanced technology teachers to challenge their students to reach a higher level.

The first introduction to VoiceThread that I use for students and teachers is an assignment where they take the PowerPoints they are already comfortable making, and transform them into an interactive presentation.  You can import almost any type of file you like (Word document, PowerPoint, PDF, image, video, etc…) then add your comments and screen annotations as needed.  This raises that typical PowerPoint to a completely new level by allowing the presenter to have pre-recorded discussions that their audience can interact with.  It also gives students a voice by allowing everyone to add text, audio, or video comments, collaborating with their classmates by sharing their ideas on each subject.  Teachers find it engaging because students enjoy sharing their opinions and feedback with their classmates.  Students find it inspiring because they learn things they never thought possible from the people they spend the most time with.  They learn to see things in a new light, and find the benefit in collaborating with their peers.

Students love VoiceThread, and teachers truly enjoy watching them collaborate and create amazing products using this fantastic tool.  However, I have found VoiceThread to be incredibly useful for adults as a way to maintain organization and flexibility in their schedules as well.

Teachers can use VoiceThread as a substitute assignment when they know they will be absent.  Throw away that dusty old Sub folder in your desk and create a VoiceThread that allows you to be out of the classroom, but not miss a day of instruction.  Insert your resources, add your video instruction, and engage your students in quality learning on a day when you are elsewhere.  No more busy work, or “study time” where students get nothing accomplished; give them an opportunity to continue their classwork without missing a beat.  10 minutes of creation on the teacher’s part lends to un-wasted instructional time for their students.

Another way teachers and administrators can use this fantastic tool is as a substitute for a meeting when time constraints do not allow a team to get together.  I work as a Technology Learning Coach in a High School with five Administrators.  Unless they possessed the ability to literally stop time, the Administrators’ duties never end.  Finding time to meet with five people who have extremely strenuous responsibilities and tasks they must attend to every day is a very difficult undertaking.  This is where VoiceThread becomes a virtual meeting where each stakeholder can view the material and participate on their own time.  Proposals for upcoming events, schedules, or just campus information that needs to be communicated can be put into a VoiceThread and made interactive amongst the group.  I shared my proposal for the Laptop Collection plan with the Administrators and they were all able to comment and participate in the discussion before it was finalized.  This way I did not interfere with their everyday duties, and we still got everyone’s opinion on what was needed to develop the best strategy possible.

I have only been using VoiceThread for a little over six months, but it has quickly turned into one of my favorite tools to use in and out of the classroom.  Its versatility makes it useful for every person in the building, allowing free flowing communication and the ability to present and interact with new ideas and concepts.  I love this tool, and I hope you will find it as beneficial as I do.  

About the author: John Briese is a Technology Learning Coach for Fort Worth ISD.  He previously taught a number of different classes including Digital and Interactive Media, Animation, Journalism, and English.  You can connect with him on Twitter at @johnbriese.


Using VoiceThread with Hands-On Projects

Educational technology shouldn’t compete with hands-on learning; it should support it. Regardless of which subject you teach, there are always opportunities for your students to get out of their seats and explore real-world learning and VoiceThread can help. Hands-on learning helps student by providing memorable experiences, but experimenting alone isn’t enough. Students need to analyze and reflect on those experiences to crystalize the lessons.

Here are a few ways you can use VoiceThread to support hands-on projects with your class:

1. Document the Learning Process

It’s not always practical to have a class full of students all working on experiments in the same space. When space and time are limited, take the students outside or ask them to document an experiment at home. With the VoiceThread mobile app, students can document the steps they took and discuss the results of their experiment. Teachers can then add feedback right on the VoiceThread and ask follow up questions to enhance the experience. In the example below, a student uses Jenga blocks to test a physics prediction. He takes pictures of each step, uploads them to VoiceThread and adds his commentary as he goes:\

2. Share Your Classroom Activities with Parents and Administrators

Parents and administrators love to know what students are doing in class, but students aren’t always great at communicating what they’ve learned. Parents frequently ask their children what they did in school and the response they receive is usually a one word answer or a shrug. This can be frustrating for teachers because of the time and energy that goes into designing meaningful lessons. With VoiceThread, you can capture the learning experiences as they happen and give parents or administrators the context around the lesson. In the VoiceThread below, you can see students working on building toothpick bridges and explaining their concepts in real time.\

3. Demonstrate Real World Skills

Teaching students practical job skills is one of the core missions of a university. While direct instruction and reading from a text are important aspects of learning in Higher Ed, practicing skills may be the most important part of the learning experience. Whether students are aspiring musicians, nurses, or lawyers, demonstrating hands-on aptitude is vital when assessing what they have learned. In the video below, you can see a nursing student demonstrate how to give a head-to-toe medical assessment. Instead of soaking up valuable in-class time to watch each student perform these tasks, use VoiceThread and review their work when time allows:\

Digital tools aren’t a replacement for these hands-on learning activities; they are a supplement. Don’t let digital get in the way, use it to capture and amplify the learning.