VoiceThread Contract Ending: Alternatives and Solutions

On June 1, 2022, UWGB faculty, staff, and students will lose access to VoiceThread. After this date, you will no longer be able to create new VoiceThreads or access and reuse old VoiceThread projects in Canvas or on the VoiceThread site. You can, however, download and store past projects in a different application or format before June 1 (see instructions below).

We feel confident about moving forward and being able to help you meet your teaching and learning goals. Instructors have used VoiceThread for several purposes, but we think those same instructional goals can be met with other tools. Please consult the list below to find your particular use(s) of VoiceThread and read about alternative tools or strategies. Still, this blog post is intended only as a reference document. Before you begin modifying your course or activities, we would encourage you to reach out to CATL for a brief consultation about your specific situation, rather than simply reading this information. You can reach us by email (CATL@uwgb.edu), phone (920-465-2541), or by filling out our consultation request form.

Alternatives to VoiceThread by Activity Type

Discussions or Critiques Using Audio or Video Recordings

The most common use for VoiceThread is to facilitate discussions that incorporate audio and video recordings, such as having online students record introduction videos and respond to those of their peers. The good news is that you can still have discussions this way using two tools you are likely already familiar with: Kaltura and Canvas discussion boards. Click the case below for more details.

Use a Canvas discussion board with Kaltura (My Media) audio/video embeds

  1. Set up a Canvas discussion board.
  2. Provide instructions on the following in the discussion board description:

Narrated Presentations or Lecture Videos

Some instructors used VoiceThread to record lectures that permit students to add comments on slides. You can instead, however, provide opportunities for student interaction with a pre-recorded lecture by turning your video into a PlayPosit bulb (see this article for a few easy ideas). If you’re simply looking for a lecture recording tool, Kaltura Capture and PowerPoint are great options. Click on the use cases in the accordion below to learn more. You can also read more about recording with Kaltura and PowerPoint in this guide.

Use PowerPoint & Kaltura (My Media)

  1. Record narrations in PowerPoint.
  2. Export the presentation as a .MP4 file with recorded timings and narrations.
  3. Upload the .MP4 file to Kaltura (My Media) in Canvas.
  4. Embed the Kaltura video on a page in Canvas.

Use Kaltura Capture & Kaltura (My Media)

  1. Record your lecture using Kaltura Capture; you can record your webcam footage and your computer screen at the same time.
  2. Once you are finished recording, click Save & Upload in Kaltura Capture to upload the recording to Kaltura (My Media).
  3. Embed the Kaltura video on a page in Canvas.

Use PowerPoint or Kaltura Capture, Kaltura (My Media), & PlayPosit

  1. Record your lecture with PowerPoint or Kaltura Capture and upload to Kaltura (My Media) in Canvas.
  2. For ungraded PlayPosit activities, create a bulb on a Canvas page in the Rich Content Editor. For graded PlayPosit activities, create a Canvas assignment with “External Tool” as the submission type and then create the bulb through the External Tool pop-up window.
  3. On the page or in the Canvas assignment description with the PlayPosit bulb, include instructions on how to interact with the bulb and leave comments in the bulb’s discussion; this PlayPosit student guide is an excellent resource to link.

Student-Created Narrated Presentations

Recorded student presentations are a common method to assess learning, especially in asynchronous online classes. Depending on your assignment learning outcomes, a video link submission to a Canvas assignment may be all you need, however, if you would like students to view and/or comment on peers’ presentations, there are ways to accomplish this using Canvas discussions or PlayPosit peer review assignments.

Use PowerPoint or Kaltura Capture, Kaltura (My Media), & a Canvas assignment

  1. Set up a Canvas online submission assignment with “Website URL” checked as the online entry option.
  2. Provide instructions on the following in the assignment description:

Use PowerPoint or Kaltura Capture, Kaltura (My Media), & a Canvas discussion board

  1. Set up a Canvas discussion.
  2. Provide instructions on the following in the discussion description:

Use Canvas Groups, Kaltura Capture, Kaltura (My Media), & a PlayPosit peer review assignment

  1. Set up Groups in Canvas; students will have to review the presentations of the other members in their group, so use that information to determine an appropriate group size.
  2. Create a Canvas assignment with “external tool” as the submission type.
  3. Set up the PlayPosit peer review assignment in the External Tool pop-up window.
  4. Provide instructions on the following in the Canvas assignment description:
    • How to record a video with Kaltura Capture and upload it to Kaltura (My Media) (most PlayPosit assignments will use Kaltura videos, though you can also use YouTube or Vimeo video links).
    • How to submit a PlayPosit peer review assignment, how to view and assess peers’ submissions, and how to view peer and/or instructor feedback on your own submission; this PlayPosit peer review guide for students is an excellent resource to link.

Exporting & Saving VoiceThreads for Future Use

Considerations Before Exporting

VoiceThread, by design, is meant to foster student engagement and discussion. If you are thinking about exporting a VoiceThread to reuse in a future course, first reflect on the purpose of the VoiceThread activity and whether the recorded video version would accomplish the same goals as the original activity. What modifications would you need to make for the video to still be an effective learning experience? Will the video be embedded in a PlayPosit bulb or Canvas discussion to allow for student interaction? Would it be better to redesign the activity and adapt it for another tool entirely?

If you are able to give sound pedagogical reasoning to support exporting and reusing a video of a VoiceThread, or perhaps would just like to keep them for archival purposes, read on.

Guidelines for Exporting VoiceThreads

VoiceThreads can be exported as video files (.mov) that include all slides and comments played in sequence. You can export as many threads as you wish, but it will take an investment of time.

If you used VoiceThread simply to present your own content (e.g., lectures), your downloaded exports can be uploaded to your Kaltura My Media library and shared with students in future classes. As a bonus, machine-generated English captions will be added automatically when you upload the video to Kaltura.

If you have a VoiceThread that includes student comments and you wish to reuse it as a video presentation in a future class, before exporting it, you should first create a copy of the VoiceThread that includes no comments or only instructor comments. Export that “clean” copy to comply with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) law. By law, you cannot share student comments from one class (not even the identities of those students) with another class in the same or future semesters.

Please refer to this knowledgebase article on exporting VoiceThreads and downloading those exports. Note that UWGB’s license includes an unlimited amount of “export credits.”

TIP: To quickly access your personal VoiceThread home page and see your library of threads, first launch any VoiceThread in Canvas, then navigate to voicethread.com/myvoice.

Please export any VoiceThread content you wish to keep a copy of before June 1, 2022.

Questions?

Please remember that CATL is here to help! If you would like help adapting your VoiceThread activities and assignments, we encourage you to request a consultation, email CATL@uwgb.edu, or call us (465-2541). A CATL team member would be happy to assist you.

Approaching the Spring 2022 Semester & Mitigating COVID Disruptions

We know you may have questions or concerns about the upcoming semester and the possibility that you will have to temporarily adapt the way you teach or share information with students based on your own or numerous student illnesses. While we hope that doesn’t happen, know the resources below are available if it does.

We also know you may be tempted to improvise in the moment (e.g., using a cell phone to record a live class and post it to Canvas), but these sorts of solutions may create their own problems. A lecture recorded with a cell phone, for example, may present issues for remote learners—are the audio and video quality good enough for learners to understand and absorb the lecture? Can they see what’s on the whiteboard and monitors at the front of the classroom? What about participating in-class group work or discussions? 

Some more sustainable, equitable options could be: 

  • creating a formal note-taking buddy system among students 
  • modifying assessments with online submissions or flexible submission dates 
  • moving group presentations to a virtual, recorded format, such as Zoom, VoiceThread or PlayPosit, that students can comment on in Canvas 
  • “flipping” a course by recording lectures so students can watch them on their own time and devoting in-person class time to review/group work/collaboration 
  • reworking elements of your course to be asynchronous 
  • offering alternative options to in-class participation, like online discussions, journaling, or reflection 

Remember, CATL is always here to help with generating strategies to assist quarantined learners and instructors. 

Who To Contact About What

Your Chair, Dean, and others mentioned in the Chancellor’s 1/14/22 campus email can help with:

  • Questions about policies related to temporary pivots in instruction modality, special accommodations in your teaching, and any other class decisions related to COVID-19
  • You may also reach out to the COVID Response Team (covidresponse@uwgb.edu) and/or Associate Provost Courtney Sherman with policy and COVID-related questions

The CATL Team (CATL@uwgb.edu – teaching; DLE@uwgb.edu – teaching technology) will assist with: 

  • Teaching and learning (e.g., course design, assignment options, equity-based instruction) 
  • Using technology in course instruction (e.g., holding office hours in Zoom, having students use Microsoft Teams for group work, using the Canvas Zoom integration, recording videos for asynchronous instruction using Kaltura tools) 
  • Strategies to keep quarantined learners engaged and/or how to modify assignments or assessments to accommodate 

The GBIT Service Desk (GBIT@uwgb.edu) is your resource for:  

  • All other technical software or hardware questions, as well as technological support in campus classrooms (e.g., login issues, Office 365 and Sharepoint, non-teaching Zoom & Teams use, classroom projectors) 

Specific Vendor Support Services (varies by service – see links below under the appropriate tool) 

  • We have direct vendor support for many technological teaching tools. Although CATL can and will help with best practices, most purely technical questions are best answered by the support line for that software.  
  • Canvas support is available to instructors 24/7 
  • Vendor support is also available for Zoom, PlayPosit, and VoiceThread (see below) 

Resources for Specific Tools

Click on one of the headings below to expand the accordion and see the related guides.

Canvas

Learning management system. Allows instructors to post learning materials (readings, videos), create assessments (assignments, discussions, quizzes), and grade assessments. Also allows students to interact with course materials, submit assessments, and view their grades. 

Kaltura

Video recording, hosting, and sharing platform. Integrates with Canvas. Sometimes referred to as “My Media” within Canvas. 

Zoom 

Web conferencing application with features like chat, polling, and breakout rooms. Integrates with Canvas.

Microsoft Teams

Web conferencing application and file sharing platform. Best for courses centered around group projects and collaboration. 

PlayPosit

Platform for building and viewing interactive video content; can be used to create formative assessments during video playback. Integrates with Canvas and uses videos uploaded to Kaltura (My Media), YouTube, and Vimeo. 

VoiceThread 

Platform for conducting asynchronous discussion around a presentation or other media. Discussion takes the form of text, audio, and video comments. 

Workshop: VoiceThread (Aug. 18, Aug. 27, and Sept. 1)

Need some time with a Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant from CATL as we transition into the fall semester? In addition to our virtual office hours, we’ll be holding some presentations and workshops on teaching with tools like PlayPosit, VoiceThread, and Zoom. As always, reach out about scheduling a consultation if these topics, dates, and times do not align with your schedules!

Here are the times for our VoiceThread workshop:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 18, 12–1 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 27, 2:30–3:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 1, 10–11 a.m.

Join a session via Zoom