Can I use VoiceThread for a video annotation activity?

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Yes—VoiceThread is a great tool for annotating video, and it would work well regardless of whether students were completing the activity during class time or asynchronously. However, there are a few things you should consider before setting up this type of activity: how VoiceThread displays comments on a video, playback time for comments (which can be really long in a larger class), and whether you want to grade the activity.

How VoiceThread displays comments added to a video

With an annotated video, VoiceThread will first play the entire video, then play each individual comment at its end chronologically, based on where it was inserted in the video’s timeline, over a screenshot of that point in the video. You’ll see dots on the video’s timeline that indicate a comment has been added at that specific point, and instead of playing the entire video first, you can click a dot to go right to a specific comment. In sum, VoiceThread doesn’t display comments as a video plays; you view comments when the video is stopped at a specific point.

For those who want to see this in action, I’ve added text comments to a sample presentation with some embedded YouTube videos. Feel free to add some of your own comments to it if you’d like to do some testing!

Playback time for comments

Consider that reviewing audio/video comments can be kind of a slow process; it definitely takes longer than reviewing feedback comments given by text. For this reason, some faculty opt to restrict students to only adding text comments on a VoiceThread. You can find the option for restricting comment types in a VoiceThread presentation’s playback settings; also check out VoiceThread’s What Does Each Playback Setting Mean page for detailed information.

Grading a video annotation assignment

This is really just an FYI: If you want to make annotating a video a graded assignment, you can set it up as a “Comment” assignment in your Canvas course using VoiceThread’s Assignment Builder feature. Then, you’ll be able to give students grades and feedback on their annotations right within your course, and you’ll have the option to set a minimum number of comments students are required to add.