What is VoiceThread

VoiceThread is a media aggregator allowing for voice and text annotations to be added to an artifact (a document, slide presentation, video, photo, etc.). “In educational settings, students can post visual media, instructors can comment, and peers can offer verbal or text-based assessments” ( Educause, 2009).

What is the purpose of VoiceThread

VoiceThread was designed to expand upon common modes of presentation available online. In being able to incorporate media from a variety of sources upon which comments - audio or text based - can be layered, the application offers new ways of presenting, sharing, discussing, and assessing.

How to use VoiceThread

Potential pedagogical uses are vast. VoiceThread can be used as:

  • An enhanced discussion forum
  • An assessment and feedback tool. Students can submit a document or video demonstrating their work. Others (the instructor or peers) can verbally or textually critique
  • A portfolio tool. Students can submit artifacts then annotate their work by including voice, video, and text explanations of what they have done

Where to find Support

This tool is centrally supported


For help, you can contact the WTS Helpdesk


For additional help with VoiceThread, please refer to the VoiceThread Documentation

Tool Evaluation

Functionality overall rating: 2 starsFunctionality

Rating Rationale
Scale rating: 2 stars


VoiceThread has the ability to divide the class into groups. However with very large classes, the tool may become difficult to manage.

Ease of use rating:3 stars

Ease of Use

VoiceThread has a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate and personalize

Tech Support/ Help Availability rating: 3 stars

Tech Support/Help Availability

Western technical support/help documentation is readily available. See the VoiceThread page in OWL Documentation Wiki or contact the Helpdesk

Hypermediality rating: 3 stars


VoiceThread allows users to communicate through different channels (audio, visual, textual) and allows for non-sequential, flexible/adaptive engagement with material

Accessibility overall rating: 2 starsAccessibility

Rating Rationale
AODA Friendly rating: 3 stars

AODA Friendly

VoiceThread meets accessibility guidelines (AODA and the W3C WCAG 2.0 standards). See VoiceThread Accessibility Features. Accessibility features include closed captioning, compatibility with screen readers, etc.

User Foused Participation rating: 3 stars

User-focused participation

VoiceThread is designed to address the needs of diverse users, their various literacies, and capabilities, thereby widening opportunities for participation in learning

Required Equipment rating: 2 stars

Required Equipment

Proper use of VoiceThread requires equipment that is common and/or purchased at a low cost. For the best use of VoiceThread the users must have a microphone and/or a webcam.

Technical overall rating: 3 starsTechnical

Rating Rationale
OWL Integration rating: 3 stars

OWL Integration

VoiceThread can be embedded and fully integrated into OWL maintaining full functionality of the tool

Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Operating Systems

Users can effectively utilize VoiceThread with any standard, up-to-date operating system (i.e. Windows, OSX, etc.)

Web Browser rating: 3 stars

Web Browser

According to VoiceThread's browser requirements, VoiceThread is supported in full in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. VoiceThreads can be opened and viewed, but audio and video cannot be recorded in the Safari and Microsoft Edge. As these browsers evolve to support HTML5, this may change. For the best possible experience, your web browser should be fully up to date, but at minimum no more than two versions behind.

Additional Tech Requirements rating: 3 stars

Additional Tech Requirements

Users can effectively utilize the tool without any browser extensions or downloaded software

Mobile Design overall rating: 2 star Mobile Design

Rating Rationale
Mobile Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Mobile Operating Systems

VoiceThread is accessible through native iPhone and Android applications

Mobile Functionality rating: 2 stars

Mobile Functionality

Basic features of VoiceThread are functional on the mobile app but advanced features are limited

Offline Access rating: 2 star

Offline Access

With the proper permissions, VoiceThread content can be downloaded for offline consumption

Usage and account set up overall rating: 2 starsUsage and Account Set Up

Rating Rationale
Sign Up/Sign In rating: 2 stars

Sign Up/Sign In

Users do not need to manually create an account for themselves. When they access VoiceThread through OWL, a user account is created on their behalf and user information (name, email address, and role information) is passed to VoiceThread from OWL

Cost of Use rating:  3 stars

Cost of Use

Western has a campus-wide license. All aspects of VoiceThread can be used free of charge by the Western community

Archiving Saving and Exporting Data rating: 2 star

Archiving, Saving, and Exporting Data

VoiceThread limits the number of times that you are able to export content. To export you require export credits, however some export credits are included with the licence. When you export you are able to download all media, comments, and annotations that exist on the live version of the VoiceThread

Data Privacy and Ownership rating: 3 star

Data Privacy and Ownership

Users maintain ownership and copyright of their intellectual property/data; the user can keep data private and decide if/how data is to be shared

Social Presence overall rating: 2 starsSocial Presence

Rating Rationale
Collaboration rating: 3 stars


VoiceThread has the capacity to support a community of learning through both asynchronous and synchronous opportunities for communication, interactivity, and transfer of meaning between users

User Accountability rating: 3 stars

User Accountability

Instructors can control student anonymity; VoiceThread provides technical solutions for holding students accountable for their actions

Diffusion rating: 2 star


Student familiarity with VoiceThread is likely mixed, some will lack basic technical competence with its functions

Instructor Presence overall rating: 3 starsInstructor Presence

Rating Rationale
Facilitation rating:3 stars


VoiceThread has easy-to-use features that would significantly improve an instructor’s ability to be present with students via active management, monitoring, and engagement

Customization rating: 3 stars


VoiceThread is adaptable to its environment: easily customized to suit the classroom context and targeted learning outcomes

Learning Analytics rating: 3 stars

Learning Analytics

Instructors can monitor students’ performance on a variety of responsive measures

Cognitive Presence overall rating: 3 starsCognitive Presence

Rating Rationale
Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s) rating: 3 stars

Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s)

VoiceThread has the potential to enhance engagement in targeted cognitive task(s) that were once overly complex or inconceivable through other means

Higher Order Thinking rating: 3 stars

Higher Order Thinking

VoiceThread has the potential to facilitate students in exercising higher order thinking skills (given consideration to design, facilitation, and direction from instructor)

Feedback on Learning rating:3 stars

Feedback on Learning

Through VoiceThread, students can regularly receive formative feedback on learning (i.e. they can track their performance, monitor their improvement, test their knowledge, etc.)

Security and Privacy

This tool has been formally reviewed by Western’s Technology Risk Assessment Committee

Security and Privacy Flags

Information Collection

  • Application collects information that could identify the user specifically (email address, class schedule, etc..)


  • Application's Terms of Conditions or End User License Agreement poses a risk of binding the institution to an agreement thereby requiring legal counsel to review the application. However, this is mitigated as it has undergone legal review during the Technology Risk Assessment process.


  • This application transmits data (grades, student data, etc...) to or from a Western system of record

Last Updated: January 31, 2020


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