Using VoiceThread in Canvas

Why use VoiceThread?

VoiceThread is a totally web-based application that allows you to place collections of media like images, videos, documents, and presentations at the center of an asynchronous conversation. A VoiceThread allows people to have conversations and to make comments using any mix of text, a microphone, a web cam, a telephone, or uploaded audio file.
In addition to a single user, a VoiceThread can be made by a group of users. Users can write (or doodle) on the media while commenting, can utilize multiple identities, and can choose which comments are shown in the slideshow.
VoiceThread is also a very simple method for adding audio to your presentation slides. You upload the slides into VoiceThread and use the easy audio tools to add your narration and comments.

See also VoiceThread: VoiceThread: How, Why and What.

How use VoiceThread

The functions of VoiceThread make it useful in all types of courses. Some of the uses and benefits of VoiceThread include:

  • Discuss content asynchronously around images, websites, videos, and more.
  • Gauge areas in which students are succeeding or in areas in which they may need remediation.
  • Hear the student’s tone and enthusiasm level as well as intonations especially useful for language learning.
  • Formatively evaluate student learning through their comments.
  • Replaces static lecture with interactive lecture that both the instructor and student can participate in in an asynchronous time frame.
  • Gain the attention and motivate learners who learn by auditory, visual, and kinesthetic means.
  • Encourage collaboration among students and instructors.
  • Create audio enhanced presentations.
  • Utilize in terminology practice, asynchronous conversations, presentations, reflection, and more.
  • Divide students into small groups or pairs to have asynchronous discussions on a topic or create a presentation on a topic.
  • Assign students a new topic or a reading and ask them to create a presentation. Have students respond by posing questions, providing additional information or resources, discussing interesting points, and so on.

Get Started

NOTE: VoiceThread’s transition away from Flash has been an ongoing project over the last four years. Flash-based version will be supported until January 1, 2018. Microsoft Edge and Safari can be used to view VoiceThreads, but these browsers do not yet support audio or video recording in HTML5. Internet Explorer does not support HTML5 at all and cannot be used with the new version. Safari currently is not supported (yet). We do encourage all of our users to use Firefox or Chrome.

The best way to access VoiceThread for a class is through your Canvas course.

Video tutorial: Using VoiceThread with Canvas (6:47 min)

Add VoiceThread to Canvas

Non-graded activities

  1. Navigate to the “Modules” area of your course.
  2. Find the module to which you’d like to add VoiceThread, and click the “Add Content” button.
  3. Select “External Tool” from the menu.
  4. Select “VoiceThread” from the list of tools.
  5. Give your link a title if you’d like.
  6. Save.

Graded activities

  1. Navigate to the “Assignments” area of your course.
  2. Create a new assignment.
  3. Name the assignment and write a description if you choose.
  4. Under Submission Type, select “External Tool”.
  5. Click on the text field below the External Tool URL.
  6. Select “VoiceThread” from the list.
  7. Save.


If you want to use a Canvas rubric for the assignment, you must add the rubric before setting the External Tool submission type. Create the assignment with any other submission type, save the assignment, add the rubric, and then edit the assignment to select the External Tool and VoiceThread.

voice thread canvasView the remaining VoiceThread instructions on this handout.

Photo by vivevans canvas voicethread