Voicethread for Students


Voicethread is an online tool that works through the web browser (or a mobile phone app), for uploading images, slides, videos or PDFs and annotating, recording, or having asynchronous audio, video or text-based discussions about them. All students have access to UMB provided Voicethread account using UMID login at https://umaryland.voicethread.com

Here are some examples: a demonstration of interactive Voicethread, a class lecture, a video-based announcement.

For students, the main things you will do with voicethread include:

  • viewing lecture content and/or videos from faculty (slides + narration)

  • responding to prompts or asking questions within a presentation

  • creating your own presentations

Getting Started

First: Note that some courses/instructors use the Blackboard Course/Assignment LTI link in their courses to get to view, comment, and/or submit Voicethread assignments. For specific instructions related to the Bb LTI, please scroll down to the bottom of this page (since those are very different instructions). These directions below are for general access to Voicethread.

To get started: go to https://umaryland.voicethread.com and log in with your UMID and Duo. (It's possible if you are already logged in to other campus systems, you will be logged right in.) If you have a previous account associated with your @umaryland email address....

  1. If you have an existing personal Voicethread account with a UMB email address, you will be asked to verify your account via email. Click the VERIFY BY EMAIL button.

  1. You will then need to verify the account via email. Launch Outlook and respond to the Voicethread email.

Viewing a Voicethread

Voicethreads can be viewed in a web browser or in a mobile app. Your instructor will provide a link to the thread and/or embed it into a page in Blackboard. When viewing, the basic controls are as follows:

  • play/pause in far lower left

  • web link (each slide can have 1) - far right top icon

  • zoom in/out - far right + and - icons

  • next/previous slide arrows - far right bottom

  • see index of all slides (to jump to a certain slide) - lower right

  • Also note: the player that plays audio and/or video can be resized and moved around the screen as you view the thread

Commenting on a VoiceThread

In VoiceThread, you can comment in several ways: using voice (with a microphone, telephone or, on pro accounts, uploaded audio file), text, or video (via a webcam).

To comment, you click on the (+) comment button at the bottom center of the VoiceThread page,

and then decide which type of comment you want to leave:

  • text (ABC) - including clickable link URLs

  • telephone (just put in your phone number and it will call you to leave your comment!)

  • audio (microphone)

  • video (camera)

  • or the up arrow to upload an audio file as an audio comment:

  • Click on the appropriate icon, and then follow the prompts to leave your comment.

Click on the appropriate icon, and then follow the prompts to leave your comment.

Web browser: *You will need to "Allow" Flash to access your microphone and/or your camera.

If you receive an error notice, such as "It looks like you're on a website that doesn't allow access to your microphone. Please open in a new tab to record your audio or webcam comments" You will need to click the padlock icon in the upper left of your browser, next to the URL in the address bar, and make sure Camera is set to Allow (and microphone). See example:

If you have done that and still get a message stating that your camera doesn't have access, both the Mac and Windows operating systems have system level preferences that may need to be changed to allow the camera to be used.

On the Mac:

1. Click on the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen.

2. Select “System Preferences”.

3. Click on “Security and Privacy”.

4. Click on “Microphone” on the left.

5. Make sure the boxes for any web browsers (Chrome, etc.) you see in that list are checked.

6. Repeat for the “Camera” option on the left.

Once your comment is recorded, you will have an option to either save, cancel or "record more" which adds to the comment.

Problems and Troubleshooting Recording Comments

More support on How to Comment from Voicethread.com.

Please note: you can download the Voicethread app for your mobile phone in the Apple or Android app store, and record audio/video comments on the thread using your mobile phone. This may be the best bet for those who cannot figure out how to record on your laptop, at least in the short term until you can get more support. Or you can use the telephone comment icon option as noted above, when that is available.

Also see Voicethread Support's list of troubleshooting questions

It is recommended if you are having trouble to restart your browser, make sure you are using the latest, most up-to-date version of Chrome or Firefox, and/or to restart/reboot your computer so that your camera/microphone are not in use with some other application.

If you receive an error stating that "your device is not able to record video. Make sure you have a camera installed" you may need to visit your system preferences.

If you are using Mac OS X, there is a system-level setting that might be

blocking VoiceThread's access in Chrome. Here are instructions you can follow

to adjust those:

1. Click on the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen.

2. Select “System Preferences”.

3. Click on “Security and Privacy”.

Click on the Privacy Tab

(You may need to click the padlock at the bottom left and log in to make changes first. )

4. Click on “Microphone” on the left.

5. Make sure the boxes for any web browsers you see in that list are checked.

6. Repeat for the “Camera” option on the left.

Upside Down Video?

If this happens please do the following:

  1. Download the webcam comment using the following steps: https://voicethread.com/howto/downloading-a-comment/

  2. Open a video editing application such as Blender (Windows), or QuickTime (Mac) to correct the orientation.

  3. Save the corrected file to your computer.

  4. Reopen the VoiceThread on the slide where the comment is saved.

  5. Use the “Upload” icon on the commenting menu to upload the corrected file as a comment. https://voicethread.com/howto/how-to-comment/#file

  6. The previous comment can then be deleted using these steps: https://voicethread.com/howto/deleting-a-comment-2/

Recording Tips

We highly recommend against continuing from slide to slide while you continue to record. Simply record 1 or more comments per slide and save them without moving on to the next slide while recording.

Some very important audio tips:

To select or change the microphone input and set the volume level for your microphone, control-click or right-click in the VoiceThread box and select "Settings" to pull up the Adobe Flash Settings - then click on the Microphone icon and set the input volume level so that it is an appropriate volume (about 80% on the meter).

Test, test, and test: record a couple comments and play them back to see if the audio is an appropriate volume. It would be a good idea to also listen to something else on your computer, such as another lecture, VoiceThread or video to see if the audio in the VoiceThread comment is at about the same volume level.

Also - get a good feeling for starting and stopping: are there words cut off at the beginning or end? Too long of a pause before or after speaking? Get a rhythm going for starting and stopping so that you don't have these issues.

You can delete and re-record audio or video comments whenever needed - so feel free to do a couple tests before you settle on the final comments.

When using a headset, make sure your microphone is a bit off to the side of your mouth, not directly in front of it. This will prevent too many popping P's and hissing S's. Again, do a test and listen to the recorded comment to see if you are getting popping P's or if the microphone sounds too close to your mouth (and you hear too much breathing, etc.)

Since you can upload an audio file as a comment, you could also record using Audacity and edit/perfect your recording for each slide before uploading. (Note: Only Pro accounts can upload audio files. Speak with your ID if you need Pro account access.)

Plan to not speak more than about a minute or three at a time when narrating. If you seek perfection and mess up 2 minutes into the comment, you will need to delete and start over. Note that you can always save a comment, and add another one. You can add as many comments to a slide as you need.

For detailed instructions on each of these commenting methods, see the help article: https://voicethread.com/howto/category/commenting-web-application/ (We also have a video available to demonstrate commenting on a VoiceThread. )

If your students will be commenting on your VoiceThread, you have the option to moderate their contributions, but understand this requires someone with editing rights to review each comment before it is visible to everyone.

Voicethread Notifications

Note that by default, Voicethread has some notifications that come to you at your email address. For example, if you comment on a Voicethread, you may be automatically subscribed, so that you receive an email each time someone else comments or replies. To manage these notifications, go to: https://voicethread.com/account/notifications OR:

1. Log into Voicethread.com and in upper right: click on your email address and go to My Account

2. Click on Notifications tab

3. Turn off or on all notification preferences, based on what you would like to receive.

Typically, for active students in courses where you do want to receive some notifications, we would recommend leaving on "Subscribed" (but you then have to manage which threads you are subscribed to or not), and perhaps "Commented".

Important Note

If your instructor re-uses a voice thread for the next year, you may begin receiving notifications suddenly a year later, when a new group of students start using the thread. We then recommend you manage your notifications accordingly, either by unsubscribing from the threads or turning off your notifications.

Email Notifications also contain handy links in them, such as: Stop sending me emails about this conversation and Adjust my account notification preferences which you can click on to stop notifications.

Subscribing and Unsubscribing to a Thread

Subscribing to a thread means it will send you an email each time a new comment is added. You can manage whether you are subscribed or not by visiting the thread, clicking the three-line hamburger in the upper left and going to Subscribe or Unsubscribe accordingly.

Creating a VoiceThread

As students, you may sometimes be required to record a presentation for your class.

The 4 basic steps of Voicethread presentations are: Create > Add Media > Comment > and Share.

NOTE: some faculty/courses use the Blackboard assignment LTI link for VT assignments, and this is a separate/different process. Scroll to the bottom of this page to see those instructions.

You'll click Create to create a new VoiceThread presentation.

Here's how you create a VoiceThread:

  1. First, gather the materials that you will be presenting (presentation, pictures, videos)

  2. TIP: Saving or exporting the presentation as a .pdf file before uploading to VoiceThread often works better. If you see issues with fonts and text not positioned properly in Voicethread, you must export as PDF first to avoid this. (Also - if you plan to record audio narration/comments for your VoiceThread, we recommend keeping each slide's narration to no longer than a few minutes - so keep this in mind when designing your slides.)

  3. NOTE REGARDING LINKS: when imported to Voicethread, links on your slides are NOT clickable. However, it is possible to create 1 link per slide in Voicethread edit mode, using these directions. Links on a slide look like this - thicon on the right is a clickable link:

  1. Log into your VoiceThread account (if you hadn't already set one up, register a new account at https://umaryland.voicethread.com; follow the instructions above under "Getting Started" for more information.)

  2. Click Create to create a new VoiceThread. (Search for and click the Edit icon on the thumbnail for an existing VoiceThread.)

  3. Drag PDFs, slides, photos, videos, etc. onto the Add Media icon, or Click on the Add Media icon to see other options, such as adding by URL, webcam photo or webcam video, or other sources.

  4. (Note: Webcam photo takes a still photo using your webcam, and the video option allows you to record a video using your webcam. If you just want to record a video of yourself speaking, use the webcam video option.) Otherwise, to narrate on top of slides, click "My Computer" and browse to find the files/slides.

  5. Once your slides are uploaded, it will take some time to process them. Once complete, click on "Comment" to enter comment mode, and then add a comment to each page with the audio and/or video narration that should be included on that slide. (See more info on recording comments below.)

  6. If your group members need to add slides or comments, share and give them edit abilities. (For more information, see section on sharing.)

  7. If you want to moderate the comments that are contributed to your slides, make certain to "Enable Comment Moderation" in the thread settings. Learn more about comment moderation.

  8. When your presentation is ready, share it with the class. (For more information, see section on sharing.)

Video instructions for creating a VoiceThread are available on their website. Here's a page dedicated entirely to Tips for creating a quality VoiceThread.

Importing Slides from Google Slides

Once your slides are complete, you will want to download them as a PDF for uploading into Voicethread. (Note: animations, videos and transitions will not work in Voicethread.)

To download:

Click on File menu> Download as… and choose PDF Document (.pdf)

Take note of where you save it and what it is named!

Deleting or Moving Comments

Comments can be deleted by clicking the trash can icon while viewing a comment.

Comments can be moved (reordered) by dragging and dropping the comment icon.

Sharing a VoiceThread

Time to get the link to share with the class!

  1. Click the Share icon

  2. Click Basic

  3. Click “Copy Link"


Click "Who has access" and select "Anyone can view" (if nobody else needs to comment) (OR if you need other students or faculty to comment on your slides, you need to select "Anyone can comment") using the pulldown menu, and click Save changes.


If you fail to change this permission setting, people will be unable to view your presentation. They will receive an error box and will have to request access to your presentation.

  1. Anyone you give the URL link to can view (and/or comment) on the VoiceThread. You can provide it to others in a discussion forum, email, or text when submitting an assignment, or paste the link into a Word document and upload that

  2. If someone has trouble viewing your thread, check #4 above!

If you want to test that the link is available to others, open a new/different browser, in which you are NOT logged into Voicethread, and paste the URL into that browser to see if it plays when not logged in. You will see "sign in" in the upper right corner, rather than your email address. If you see your email address, you are already logged into Voicethread:

Updating a VoiceThread Slide

Note: The below function requires EDIT access to the Voicethread. If you created it yourself, you have this. If IDEA Team created the thread for you, we may need to provide Edit access instead of just Comment access for you to be able to do this. Please email us for Edit access! Be be careful! Anything you delete is gone - there's no vers ioning!

With EDIT access, you can update either the slides or the comments on VoiceThreads at any time. Let's say you have a narrated slide with a typo and want to only replace the slide, but keep the audio comment. Here's how:

Part 1: Preparing the updated slides:

  1. Correct the slide in PowerPoint

  2. Click File menu and pull down to: "Save as pictures" then Click "Options" - At the bottom, select "Save current slide only"; Select a Format (the default, JPEG will work fine.) and click OK.

  3. OR if you don't see "Save as > Pictures" - do File > Export and change the Format pulldown menu from PDF to JPEG, then select Current Slide Only.

  4. The Save as field may still have the original name of your slide set - we recommend you append the number of the slide to the end of that name. For example: courseintroduction-slide15

  5. Note "Where" it is saving. (We recommend the desktop.)

  6. Click "Save".

  7. Repeat for any slides you wish to update

Updating In Voicethread

  1. Log in to Voicethread

  2. Click "VT Home" and locate the thread you wish to update. (It may show up under "Shared with Me" if your ID set up the VoiceThread, or you may need to search for it using the box in the upper left.)

  3. Mouse over the VT and select "Edit"

  4. Mouse over the slide you wish to update and click the Pencil icon

5. Click "Replace" at the top of the image in the center of your screen

6. If there are already comments on the slide, Click Yes to upload a new slide but keep the comments. (You can always replace comments later)

7. Select the individual updated slide file you saved above and click Save.

Attribution: portions of this content reproduced from JHSPH


Voicethread and Screen Readers: Universal Voicethread

Voicethread can also be optimized for screen readers. See how to set it up as the default on this page.

Also, you can change any VT link into a universal link by inserting /universal/ into the URL like this:

Building a VT Universal share link

A VoiceThread share link takes a viewer directly to a particular VoiceThread. This is often the quickest way to direct someone to an individual VoiceThread. Click here to learn how to obtain a share link.

The share link for a VoiceThread is structured as: http://voicethread.com/share/#####. The numbers at the end of the share link are the identification number for that VoiceThread. This share link will always open in the standard application at voicethread.com.

If a person would like to visit this VoiceThread in VT Universal instead, he can restructure the share link using that same identification number. The link would be structured as: http://voicethread.com/universal/thread/#####.

Sample standard share link: http://voicethread.com/share/409

Sample VT Universal share link: http://voicethread.com/universal/thread/409/

Blackboard Voicethread LTI Assignments

The Blackboard Voicethread LTI makes it even easier for instructors and students to log into Voicethread, view threads, comment, and submit assignments. If you instructor uses the LTI in your course, click the LTI link will automatically log you in using the email address in your Blackboard profile.

NOTE: If you have used Voicethread or created a presentation by logging into Voicethread.com (not umaryland.voicethread.com) and using a different email address (such as gmail or yahoo), this will be a separate and disconnected version of Voicethread.

If you have a Voicethread assignment to create a thread, narrate it, and share with the class, here are instructions:

  1. The instructor should have created an LTI assignment link - and you should start from this, by clicking on the assignment link name. (If you use a more general link, such as a link to the Voicethread class group - that has all of the class threads, it would be a separate location - not the assignment folder.)

  2. You will then be presented with a button to "Create a new VoiceThread" and a list of your available threads on the left, and a search box to search through your own threads by keyword. If you need to create a new thread for this assignment, click "Create a new VoiceThread." From that point, you will add media, comments, etc. (see above on this page for more info on this.)

  3. If you had already created it and see the thread you want to submit, you can click it once to select it, and it will then show up on the right side of the screen with more info and a "Submit Assignment" blue box.

  4. If you do NOT see your thread there, and cannot locate it by searching in the search box, it was most likely created in some other VT account. You will then have to use the "Add a VoiceThread by share link or id" blue hyperlink at the bottom of the thumbnail list. Here, you will be able to paste in the Share Link to any Voicethread that is shareable. To do this, you should go into another browser/window/tab and locate your VT presentation, and click the Share icon. Now, review above on this page about how to share your VT - and be sure to follow the instructions to ensure your VT is not Private and that the Basic Share link allows viewing and comment(!) Then you can click the blue "Copy Link" icon to get the URL to share and paste that link into the "Add a VoiceThread by share link or id" field.

    NOTE: if you get a message that you can't submit it because you don't have editing rights, you will need to go back and Share that thread with your primary Blackboard email address, with edit rights. See the sharing section on how to set up a contact and share with editing rights.

  5. To finalize your submission, check the "and share with class" box (assuming in most cases our SSW classes ask you to share with the class for viewing, however some instructors may want to keep it private by not checking that box) - and then click "Submit Assignment"