Photo of Higher Ed Online Learning from Michelle Pacansky-Brock 2

Higher Ed Online Learning from Michelle Pacansky-Brock 2

By Michelle Pacansky-Brock


This is a VoiceThread that is from a single learning unit in a 16-week online Women in Art class at the community college level (introductory art history students). It incorporates voice and text comments as well as great visuals and a movie clip. Instructionally, the VoiceThread required students to discuss and reflect on specific images and ideas that they learned about in the current learning unit that was tied to this VoiceThread. I use a VoiceThread at the end of each online learning unit as a way to recap and discuss the major concepts and ensure students meet the learning objectives for the learning unit. My students’ comments are insightful, engaging and demonstrate evidence of discussing ideas in a group setting (like a class discussion). I love VoiceThread!!


There are 16 learning units in each semester - one learning unit each week. Each week a new learning unit is deployed. The learning unit includes a list of learning objectives and a list of assignments to complete, which are designed to help them meet their objectives. The assignments include a reading from the textbook or a selected article, a lecture given by the instructor (deployed in PDF and in podcast - they choose how they access it), possibly some weblinks, sometimes an online movie or movie clip, and the last component is the VoiceThread. In the VoiceThread they respond to prompts crafted by the instructor that require them to reflect on the unit’s content.


  • Increases their sense of being part of a community (a significant barrier for online success).
  • Improves the sense that the instructor is present in their learning experience.
  • Students enjoy having options for commenting (text, audio, phone-audio, video).
  • VoiceThread improves student-student and student-teacher communication and reduces the amount of “hurt feelings”, as opposed to the usual bulletin-board format, because the human voice eliminates misinterpretations of text-based comments.


During the first week of a course students get a little confused about what to do, but this initial confusion passes quickly as they explore and experience VoiceThread’s tools. In higher learning, older students are less excited about trying out new technologies - they need more encouragement and support.


  • Give clear instructions to your students about how to use VoiceThread.
  • Explain to them WHY you’re having them use it. How will VoiceThread benefit their learning?
  • Demonstrate that you know what you’re doing. Be a confident instructional leader.


Try using VoiceThread to deliver a lecture.