Getting started with Voicethread VoiceThread (VT) is an online presentation tool that lets you create narrated presentations using all sorts of media and documents. You can add comments via microphone, webcam, or text, and you can even bring your students into the conversation. This handout, along with a sample VoiceThread presentation and downloadable PowerPoint to use as a sample are available on my website: https://sites.google.com/a/mail.ccsf.edu/kbrunetti/voicethread
Getting Started: CCSF user accounts are managed through Insight. You’ll need to go the insight course page where you want to create your presentation in order to begin. http://insight.ccsf.edu Once you are in your course page, add a course section (aka Unit or Week) unless you’ve already got one to work with. •
From the “add an activity” menu, select External Tool
Then name the activity. For the purpose of this training (and to make your life easier once you get rolling with Voicethread) I recommend you create a Voicethread Sandbox. You can name this whatever you like, but basically we’re going to create a direct route into your whole collection of VT presentations that’s not visible to students. Later, you can go to this list, grab the url of a specific presentation, and create a place for it within your course.
Be sure to select “VoiceThread MyVoice” to create an access page to all of your presentations.
You can adjust the display and availability settings to your preference, but for this sandbox tool, you probably want to leave the visibility on the default Hide setting. Now select the Save and Display button at the bottom of the page. You will see the Voicethread homepage.
Creating a New VT Once you’ve arrived at the VT home page, take a look at the menu at the top of the page:
Explore content others have created.
Click here to start working on a VT.
Shows your whole VT collection.
Your VT account is displayed here. Upload a pic if you like.
VT accepts many different files types, including .jpg, .pdf, .mov and .ppt. Powerpoint presentations will be broken into individual slides, and pdfs will get 1 slide per page. If your formatting looks wonky, try exporting your Powerpoint to .pdf first
Next, find a file or files on your computer to upload. A small set of photos or a Powerpoint work well. Depending on the size of the file, uploading can take a few seconds or several minutes. Video files can take a long time. Once you've uploaded content, you it should look something like this:
Adding Comments Select the Comment button. Whichever slide appears in the frame below is what you'll be commenting on. If you are using audio or video commenting, be sure your sound settings (under system preferences on a mac) are set to use an input mic if you are using one in lieu of a built in mic (more on that below).
Now, select the comment button under the image on the slide
Choose video, record, or type to add your comment. You can always delete and redo your comment during playback. Just look for the trash can. Try typing in a comment first. This is the easiest way to add your thoughts. For audio, it's best to use an external microphone for better sound quality. You can record your comments right in VoiceThread, or use an audio recorder application such as audacity or Appleâ€™s Garage Band and upload your comments onto the slide. This approach generates the best audio quality but is a bit more work. If you make video comments using your computer's webcam, you will likely need a current version of Adobe Flash (free download).
Publishing and Sharing Once you are done adding creating your VoiceThread, you need to give it a name and share it. Just above the upload is the "add title" option. After you've done that, you'll want to share and set publishing
options. These are crucial steps that control who can view your work, whether commenting is allowed, and if you want to moderate comments. First, set publishing options. This function is located at the bottom of the screen:
Allowing anyone to view is exactly as advertised, however, you would need to share the link to your Voicethread. Allowing anyone to comment is the same story as above. Comment moderation is very handy. You are notified via email when someone submits a comment. You have the option of accepting or rejecting. For a class, this might be a little heavy handed and slow down discussion, not to mention clutter up your inbox!
Now, go back to share on the left hand menu and click on it.There are lots of options here. You can simply grab the link and send it out (once you've allowed everyone to see it in publishing options) Or you can create a group and share it only with them. You can give them viewing and/or commenting privileges. Lastly, you can share it with individual contacts on your list (in the column on the right). Voicethreads are easily “placeable” in Insight. Here’s how.
Adding Individual VoiceThread Presentations in Insight
On your course page, navigate to your VoiceThread Sandbox (or whatever you’ve chosen to call it). Once you’ve selected it, you’ll see a page that looks something like this:
Find the VoiceThread you want to post for your students. Then click the menu (gear icon) in the bottom right corner of the VT.
Now, select the Share button.
Copy the link, and be sure to set viewing/commenting permissions and copy the link.
Now, navigate to your course’s homepage and to where you want the VT lesson to appear. Create or use an existing course section and Add an Activity—External Tool.
To create a direct link to the presentation, your settings should look like this:
Be sure to select “VoiceThread MyVoice” or “VoiceThread ShareLink”
Paste in the url to the VT you copied in the previous step. If nothing happens, go back out to your sandbox and copy the url again.
When students click on the link to your presentation from the Unit/Week course section, the VoiceThread you added will launch and begin playing.
Tips and Troubleshooting VoiceThread is fairly intuitive, but as with all technologies glitches may occur. If you are having trouble adding a VT to a course section, it’s best to delete the activity and try it again. Note: do not delete the VoiceThread itself from your MyVoice page, just delete the activity item you’ve created within the Unit/Week course section. If your students are having trouble viewing your VTs, the likely culprit is Flash Player. Ask the students to update this plugin and the files should play normally. Students on ipads/iphones will need to download the free VoiceThread app from the Apple App store.