Jonah petting sting rays

Voice Thread

Voice Thread (VT) is part of “voice authoring tools that combine text, video, and images… and potentially support collaboration, social presence, (and) learning engagement” (Salas & Moller, 2015, p. 11). The tool could be used in a number of ways, including a written or videotaped case study, where all learners have opportunities to share their perspectives and recommendations. Voice Thread would be invaluable for this type of learning exercise, as participants could watch the video, listen to feedback, and provide pertinent suggestions to peers through audio media. The virtual visual and audio components of this tool can provide opportunities for participants to make authentic connections with one another, and this is a powerful approach to learning collaboratively, building rapport, and sharing ideas about challenging situations, such as case studies.  

In a formal learning environment the instructor or facilitator might integrate the tool in optimal learning methods connecting participants across the miles. For example, voice thread could be integrated as a social learning tool in asynchronous, virtual settings. By doing this, the instructor allows learners to participate in discussion and add to the voice thread at his/her own time and pace.  This convenience and flexibility may be very enticing to adult learners with busy lives. These features might also promote high quality participation, as learners can pick their own time and space to learn and participate. Subsequently, this flexibility and individualized experience can help instructors meet 21st century learning goals, and it can provide opportunities for participants to be more intentional in the contributions that they make to the learning environment.

Some instructional approaches in the Human Service (HS) field using voice thread could include sharing ideas and feedback about certain cases in which student interns are facing in the field. These cases can be difficult to discuss and the learning curve can be steep for HS paraprofessionals who are new to the field. Voice thread can offer personal connections. In addition, by hearing tones, expressions, other audio features offered by voice thread, students may feel more at ease while discussing difficult cases, and as a result, they may be more forthright, open to feedback, etc.

To get started, instructors should ask participants to start a free Voice Thread account, as well as add the members of the class to their group contact. After doing this, participants can begin working right away and they can easily share their work after they have made contributions to Voice Thread. I would allow the first part of the working session to focus on account sign up and piloting a test run with voice thread. As part of this process participants could get technical issues out of the way so that they may later concentrate on the content. In addition, while conducting a test run, learners are able to become familiar with adding sources and media, recording themselves, hearing their own voices, etc. This ease of use and familiarity with voice authoring tools can create a more natural feel in the real learning environment. As a result, a test run can be critical to ongoing success with the tool.

Note: I inserted a picture of my son, Jonah, petting a stingray at the Boston Aquarium. Rather than just look at fish and sea creatures in glass tanks, the real and experiential components of the aquarium allow children to make authentic, person to person (or person to creature) connections. To my mind, with the powerful audio and video components of voice thread, it can seem as though instructors and peers are all in the same room making powerful and real time connections with each other. When you envision voice thread, what images and thoughts come to your mind? Please share.

Additional Sources

Digitally Speaking (n.d.). Voicethread. Retrieved from

Genuario, P. (2016). Youtube: How to use voice thread. Retrieved from


Salas, A. & Moller, L. (2015). The value of voice thread in online learning: Faculty perceptions of usefulness.  Quarterly Review of Distance Education.  16-1, 11-24.