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UNF Center for Instruction and Research Technology

Cirt Knowledge Base

Introducing VoiceThread’s Enhanced Experience

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Online Learning Support

We are thrilled to unveil transformative updates within VoiceThread that can be harnessed for creating the “human presence” in learning environments. VoiceThread has been intentional about utilizing research to drive improvements and new features with a focus on accessibility and usability.

Improvements and New Features

Accessibility is the root of VoiceThread’s mission. Updates were made to improve and/or create features that are accessible to all users. One of the most significant changes has been the number of web applications – instead of there being two web applications there is now only one. As a result, VoiceThread will now work out-of-the-box with screen readers, allowing all users an equitable experience and level of support. Specifically, the following accessibility changes have been made:

  • Buttons and fields are labeled correctly
  • Automated alt text is generated for documents and PDFs
  • There is now a field for entering alt text manually for images and other visual media
  • Option to add audio descriptions to slides
  • Text comment resizing options
  • Zoomable interface
  • WCAG 2.0 AA contrast for all interface elements, including closed captions

VoiceThread improvements also focus on usability for collaboration and communication. Communication in VoiceThread, while one of the most powerful options, was known to have caused new or inexperienced users confusion in following conversations and engaging with others. Collaborating through slides using comments is another important feature that reportedly resulted in a problematic user experience. To solve the collaboration and communication issues the following improvements have been made:

  • New VoiceThread will now default to a “One Conversation” setting that puts all comments in a single, easy-to-follow timeline. You can still create threaded conversations, but they’ll be clearly visible threads in the one timeline and not tucked away somewhere else.
  • Comments can be made on any slide which will appear in the same list as all the other comments.
  • VoiceThread reduced complexity by creating a chat app feel for conversations to be more understandable and accessible.
  • While recording a comment, you can now zoom in and pan around the image while talking or doodling on the media through it all.
  • A new slide gallery allows you to navigate through slides in nonsequential order when commenting (e.g. viewing slide 5, then slide 20).
  • Authentication options via services such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Microsoft authenticator will soon be added to the login options.

Check out the New VoiceThread article to learn how you can try out the new features, or you can wait until June 30, 2024, when everyone will be switched to the new version automatically. If you try it out but want to switch back, you can revert to the legacy experience within the display settings.

If you have any questions or need support with VoiceThread, please feel free to reach out to CIRT’s Online Learning Support team via email (cirtlab@unf.edu) or phone (904.620.3927). Let us know what you think of the New VoiceThread experience!

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Brought to You By
Online Learning Support
Yasmeén Merriweather
Yasmeén Merriweather
CIRT | Coordinator of Training