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Self-Recording Using VoiceThread

Note that while VoiceThread is a viable option for a "one time use" or "just in time" self-recorded lecture, it is not recommended for a lecture that will be exported as a video nor used in subsequent course offerings. In July 2022, VoiceThread updated its policy to archive and delete inactive accounts and any content tied to those accounts. This means that if someone has created a VoiceThread presentation or even commented on another user's presentation, if their account is archived or deleted then their comments and original presentations are no longer accessible.

Interactive Capabilities

VoiceThread (VT) is a presentation tool to which all Johns Hopkins University students, faculty, and staff have access. Audio, video and slide narration can be recorded and shared via VoiceThread. A unique aspect of this program is that viewers can add their own text, audio, and video comments to a recording, making this a great option for faculty who want their students to actively engage with the recording. For example, VoiceThread is commonly used for Welcome to the Course messages in which students add their own introductions. Contact your instructional designer for more information about how to incorporate VoiceThread into your teaching strategies.

Is This the Option for You?

VoiceThread is one of the self-recording options that the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) recommends. This option is appropriate for you if the following statements are true:

  • You are already comfortable working with VoiceThread.

  • You have a USB headset, Bluetooth earbuds, or other high quality external microphone and can produce quality audio recordings.

  • You are creating an interactive activity using the VoiceThread viewer commenting features.

  • You cannot meet CTL studio recording deadlines.

  • You need to create a "just in time", non-interactive lecture that will not be used in subsequent course offerings.

  • You understand the VoiceThread presentation will only be linked (not exported as a video*) to a course site.
    *Videos exported from VoiceThread are not at a sufficient quality for sharing with students.


For faculty and guest speakers who want or need to use this option, please consider creating a VoiceThread presentation to be used as a lecture only if you have less than two weeks to a lecture's opening and do not want an interactive lecture that allows for student comments directly in the presentation. CTL staff can place the VoiceThread's sharing link in the Lecture Materials section of a CoursePlus lecture page. (Only CTL can place items in the Lecture Materials section.) If you cannot complete your lecture in this time frame, you will still be able to place the VoiceThread sharing link as an item in your Online Library or otherwise link the presentation to your course site.

Why Include Your VoiceThread Link in the Lecture Materials Section of a Lecture Page? 

By placing the link in the Lecture Materials section, the CoursePlus Lecture Tracker will show student click-throughs as lecture views. Each time an item hosted in this section is accessed by a student, this action is logged by CoursePlus . This will also appear in the "Access of Individual Course Sections by Each Student" Report (available from the Faculty Tools page).


Before creating your lecture's VoiceThread(s), please take the following steps:

  • Verify your access to the Johns Hopkins University VoiceThread service ( and, if you do not already know, ask your instructional designer if your account is upgraded from Basic to Pro

    • For guest lecturers without a JHED (Johns Hopkins Enterprise Directory) ID, the Johns Hopkins faculty will need to take some initial steps:

      • Johns Hopkins faculty will first add the guest lecturer as a contact in VoiceThread using their preferred email address. At the same time, the Johns Hopkins faculty can add their instructional designer as a contact.

      • Johns Hopkins faculty will next create a VoiceThread with at least a single "slide" on the Johns Hopkins VoiceThread site. The guest faculty will edit this VoiceThread and will have the ability to edit the slides or other media.

      • Johns Hopkins faculty will then need to securely share that VoiceThread with the guest (who is now a VT contact) and the instructional designer, giving access to view, comment, and edit. 

      • Once this VoiceThread is securely shared with the guest, the guest faculty can take the remaining steps.

  • Be familiar with the Lecture Delivery Best Practices Checklist,  including developing your lecture into short sections (10 to 20 minutes). Each section should be its own VoiceThread presentation. A single lecture can easily be composed of several sequential VoiceThread sections.

  • Be familiar with CTL's Recording Tips

  • Have all media for the lecture gathered and easily accessible in a single folder on your computer or one or more of the following cloud services: Google Drive, Flickr, Khan Academy, New York Public Library, or even another VoiceThread that you own or that is shared with you. Beyond another VoiceThread presentation, this media can be a PowerPoint presentation, PDF, video, static image, Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or any other file type accepted by the VT service.
    *CTL recommends that you follow our PowerPoint Best Practices toward making an accessible file so there are fewer surprises when it is converted into a VoiceThread.

  • Create a good, clean sample audio recording on the device where you will be recording your lecture. You do not need to use VoiceThread for this sample; instead, you could use a program or app already installed on your computer or an online service such as Record MP3 Online or Online Voice Recorder. Adjust your microphone settings until your recording plays back at a quality that is satisfactory to you. While it may not be as "crisp" as a professional recording, you should be able to listen to your recording at the same volume as any high-quality online audio or video! 

    • Recommendation: Use a USB headset, Bluetooth earbuds, or other high quality external microphone. Be in a quiet room, free of background noise. Listen to the intro of an NPR podcast and then listen to your sample recording. If you need to change the volume between listening to each of them, then you need to go back and adjust your microphone settings!


When you are ready, create your VoiceThread for your lecture. CTL highly recommends that you:

  • Create a separate VoiceThread for each segment (10 to 20 minutes each) of a lecture. Consider composing a script as you develop your VoiceThread lectures.

  • Upload and check the quality of all your media in advance of recording any audio. Remember that the time it takes to convert media to a VoiceThread varies, usually based on file size. (High-quality media usually means a large file size and a longer wait time. You can always upload the media and leave VoiceThread while it does the conversion.) After all your media is uploaded and converted, click through your entire VoiceThread. Sometimes when the media is converted, the appearance changes slightly and you may want to update or replace a single slide. (CTL recommends that you follow our PowerPoint Best Practices so there are fewer surprises in converting these file types into a VoiceThread.)

  • Test and adjust your microphone settings each time you sit down to record (comparing the volume and quality of your audio recording's playback to those of an NPR podcast or other good-quality source).

  • Record or upload audio comments to each individual slide in your lecture instead of recording a single audio comment while navigating from slide to slide. It is much easier to delete and rerecord an audio comment on a single slide! Remember that you cannot edit the audio that is recorded directly in VoiceThread. Instead, you could record your audio files outside of VoiceThread and then upload the MP3 files as comments on each slide.

Sharing and Exporting


Once your VoiceThread lectures are finalized, at a minimum, you want to make sure you securely share them with your instructional designer: 


CTL used to recommend exporting VoiceThreads as videos, however, that is no longer our recommended nor preferred practice. The quality of the exported videos is not what we want for our BSPH courses. Ideally, you will only link VoiceThreads to course sites where you are either creating a lecture "just in time" for a single course offering or asking students to interact (i.e., leave comments) with the presentation.

Should you want to export a VoiceThread for any other reason, as a Johns Hopkins University user you should have unlimited export credits. To export your videos, take the following steps:

Placement in CoursePlus

VoiceThread presentations can be shared with students in CoursePlus in three ways: as hyperlinks in the Lecture Materials section of a lecture page (which requires CTL staff's assistance); as weblink items in the Online Library which can be linked to a course page; or as hyperlinks anywhere else on the course site. Ideally, you should opt to share your videos (we recommend they be less than 20 minutes in length) in the Lecture Materials section of a Lecture Page, which requires coordinating with your Instructional Designer. Each time an item hosted in this Lecture Materials section is accessed by a student, this action is logged by the CoursePlus reporting features.

  • Sharing links to VoiceThread presentations through the Lecture Materials section two weeks or more before a lecture opens:

    • Faculty must share the VoiceThread sharing link with the instructional designer.

    • The instructional designer or other CTL staff will create a section in the Lecture Materials box of the lecture page and link it to the VoiceThread.

  • Sharing the links to the VoiceThread lecture on your own:

    • Make sure the Playback Options for each of your VoiceThread lectures are correct before copying the share links that you will be sharing with students.

    • Share the hyperlinks to the lecture VoiceThread presentation(s) via:

      • the Online Library, and then link these (logically titled) weblink library items to the lecture page; or

      • a custom section on the lecture page, whose text is edited to include a logical title for each lecture section that is then hyperlinked to the corresponding VoiceThread.

  • If you want to share a PDF version of your lecture's PowerPoint(s), you will need to upload the PDF files to the Online Library and link these to the lecture page.

More Resources

An abbreviated version of these guidelines, VoiceThread Presentation as a Self-serve Recorded Lecture [.pdf], and Video: Using VoiceThread as a Self-recorded Lecture (3:44) [MP4] are available for downloading from our Toolkit Shelf.

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