Creating Multimedia Presentations with Audio

Many instructors give presentations in PowerPoint or ask students to give presentations of thier own. In online teaching, it's often useful to narrate these presentations with pre-recorded audio so viewers can watch and listen to them at any time. It's possible to record audio for a slide from within PowerPoint. However, recording audio in PowerPoint has disadvantages: 

  1. Audio recorded in PowerPoint creates very large files. These files are often too big to email to students and can take a long time to download.
  2. Students cannot comment on presentations unless the files are posted on a discussion board.
  3. PowerPoint files can't be viewed in all web browsers. Some students must download files and view them separately from other online learning materials.

Recommended Tool for Presentations with Audio: VoiceThread

VoiceThread offers several advantages over PowerPoint for building and sharing presentations and facilitating discussions with audio.

  1. You can do everything from within the browser (including record audio). There's no need for other software and no need to save and manage audio files and PowerPoint files on your hard drive.
  2. Presentations can be embedded in Blackboard or on any webpage. There's no need to email large files or make students download them.
  3. Viewers can post text and audio comments on the presentation.
  4. Students can easily collaborate to build presentations together without worrying about managing multiple versions of a PowerPoint file. 

VoiceThread Examples

Issues to Consider

1) You can't create text slides in VoiceThread. You can import images into VoiceThread and use each image as a slide. However, you cannot use VoiceThread to build slides with text or slides with multiple graphics. (You can post text comments, but they won't appear on the slide. They will be placed in a small speech balloon that sits beside the slide.) Slides with text should be built in PowerPoint and uploaded to VoiceThread.

2) Small text might be blurry. When you upload an existing PowerPoint file to VoiceThread, each slide is converted into an image. This means certain details in the slide may become blurry, especially small text, and this blurriness will increase if the presentation is enlarged. So, if your presentation has small text or graphics that must be kept very crisp and clear in order to be useful, VoiceThread might not be your best option. (There's no exact rule to determine what text size is too small to work in VoiceThread. The best way to evaluate this is to upload the PowerPoint file and see how it looks.)

3) The free version of VoiceThread has the following limitations:

  • limit of three VoiceThreads per user
  • can't save VoiceThread on your hard drive
  • limit of 50 pages/slides per VoiceThread
  • can't create groups
  • can't upload audio files from your hard drive (can only record through your browser)

VoiceThread Help