Creating More Engaging Assignments with VoiceThread

How can you enhance your course and more effectively engage your students? VoiceThread is a tool integrated within Blackboard that allows faculty and students to easily create video and audio enhanced presentations and assignments. What kinds of assignments are likely to be enhanced by VoiceThread? Can VoiceThread be used for student group projects? How can student assignments in VoiceThread be tracked and graded in Blackboard? 

While many of you might already use VoiceThread to create presentations, lectures, and commentary, perhaps allowing students to pose questions or comments in response, you might not be aware of the wide range of other potential uses of VoiceThread.

View the recording of Creating More Engaging Assignments with VoiceThread webinar co-hosted by Katherine Burt, Assistant Professor, Health Sciences, Lehman College

The “Why” - Creating More Engaging Assignments with VoiceThread by Susan Ko, Faculty Development Consultant, Office of Online  Education and Clinical Professor, Department of History, Lehman College

The “How” - Creating More Engaging Assignments with VoiceThread by Naliza Sadik, Educational Technologist | Instructional Designer, Office Online Education

The Faculty Experience - Creating More Engaging Assignments with VoiceThread by Katherine Burt, Assistant Professor, Health Sciences, Lehman College

You can also view the webinar presentation slides and read the overview of thewebinar below - prepared by Susan Ko, Faculty Development Consultant, Office of Online Education.

The Why

Some benefits of using VoiceThread are to enhance presentations, whether created by faculty or students because VoiceThread provides a multiplicity of modes--text, audio, video--to present and such modes are also available for commenting on the presentation. Because VoiceThread is integrated with Blackboard, it is comparatively easier for students to access, easier to use and also can be readily edited and redeployed in subsequent courses or semesters, saving time and effort for the instructor.

VoiceThread also serves to facilitate greater interaction with content, the instructor, or peers, whether in a face-to-face, hybrid, or fully online class. Both individual students and groups can present and comment on each others’ work, and these activities can be integrated with other elements for sharing and communication in the class like discussion boards and blogs, contributing to the overall learning community. VoiceThread can also be an asset for language learning and public speaking assignments, with audio, video, and text inputs reinforcing the learning, and allowing for necessary practice. Finally, VoiceThread can enhance the analysis of many types of visual content, from diagrams and tables to art, photography, and video. Because of its combined presentation and commenting capabilities, such visual content can be made the focus of an assignment, leading to further engagement by students.

The How

VoiceThread is an interactive tool for communication, collaboration, and discussion, available within Blackboard. It’s easy to use, update and reuse, and provides many different options for faculty to tailor to the needs of a course. Some of the tool’s options allow for discussion activities via threaded commenting and group or individual presentations with responses via commenting. VoiceThread also lends itself to faculty generated presentations like short weekly overviews or wrap-ups and mini-lectures. Options within VoiceThread allow for such customized controls as the timing of slides, the enabling or disabling of commenting, and the types of commenting input that may be used, moderation of commenting, and limits on the commenting time.

Using Assignment Builder, three different types of assignments can be enabled--students can create a VoiceThread, Submit a comment, or Watch a VoiceThread.

Create VoiceThread assignments are for individual students and not shared with classmates. The use of Assignment Builder also allows for full integration with grading in Blackboard so that grades on VoiceThread assignments can be automatically synced with the Grade Center. Group presentations can be enabled when the instructor creates VoiceThreads for each group to use, and these can be available for the whole class to see and comment on. An instructor can create a whole class presentation VoiceThread, asking each student to add a slide and record a narration.

The Faculty Experience

Katherine Burt, Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Health Sciences shared insights from her use of VoiceThread in a hybrid, zero-textbook cost course, DFN 621: Ethnic and Therapeutic Meal Patterns. Her path to creating VoiceThread presentations was straightforward, with the importation of her PowerPoint lecture slides, subsequently enriched with additional audio and text. She employed threaded commenting to create a more engaging online participation activity, and facilitated grading by using the Assignment Builder to set up this assessment of participation.

She appreciates the ability to update and revise content in VoiceThread, and also sees VoiceThread as part of her back up plan for occasions like bad weather when the class might find it difficult to meet in person.


To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact the Office of Online Education at