Using VoiceThread to Enhance Existing Assignments

This is a guest post by Nursing Educator and VoiceThreader Kimberly Davis.


I attended the online VoiceThread Basics Training this past spring and was quickly hooked! One of the features that really appealed to me about using VoiceThread was the idea that students could use multiple modalities to express themselves. I teach Concepts of Professional Nursing, an introductory nursing course, where students have traditionally used a written discussion board post to answer how this class has shaped their professional identity. This summer instead of using the discussion board forum, I took the question to VoiceThread and had the students post their discussion using their own slides, video, audio, images, etc. This assignment became so much more interactive, and the student responses were truly inspiring!

Logistically, I wanted to make the discussion meaningful since I have 80 students in the class, so I divided them into groups of 10 to make it more manageable. After they read over and responded to each other’s posts, they then created an electronic poster presentation of just images to represent their group’s collective professional identity as a nurse. Each of the groups then presented their electronic posters to the class on our final day.

I think utilizing VoiceThread allowed for a deeper reflection since students were able to use color, voice, video, and imagery to represent their thoughts. As I read through their posts, there was definitely an underlying feeling that students were starting to realize how challenging the nursing profession will be. Some themes I saw in the responses included recognition of the complexity of patient-centered care/advocacy, importance of caring and safety, need for evidence-based practice, dangers of horizontal violence, importance of caring for self, etc. An unintended effect of this assignment was that I saw multiple encouraging responses between the students, such as “You will be an awesome nurse” and “I have no doubt in my mind you will be compassionate and knowledgeable to all of your patients! Your patients are going to be lucky to have you as a nurse!” Using VoiceThread for this assignment truly enhanced student engagement and contributed to their learning in a significant way.

Since I had such a positive experience in the introductory nursing course, I decided to implement VoiceThread into a reflection activity with my community clinical group this semester. Since this is a service learning course, students are expected to participate in meaningful reflections of their community-based experiences. This semester I started posting their reflection questions on VoiceThread and gave them editing rights which allowed them to add their own slides after my introduction so they could then respond to each other with voice, text, video, and imagery. I have led this reflection activity for several years now using a traditional written discussion board forum. Typically students have responded to the minimum number of posts as required, however, this semester I noticed a higher level of engagement with some students responding more than this required minimum. Reflecting with VoiceThread has been a success!

Another feature that enticed me to implement VoiceThread was the editing ability. I am program director for the Care Coordination Certificate program at our university, which is 95% online. The first course that students take in the program includes an overview of the United States healthcare system. We identified early this year that pre-recording these lectures was not going to be in the best interest of the students due to the rapidly changing health care environment. For the instructor, the editing features of VoiceThread are ideal when content may change from week to week (or even day to day!)

We are able to prepare lectures and re-record over one slide at a time, or even exchange slides, all without having to re-record the entire lecture. This editing feature has been a huge win for the faculty in the program who need to be able to quickly adapt to an ever-changing health care environment. It’s also wonderful in an online program that students can add questions and comments directly to the slides throughout the lecture. This promotes engagement when learning is asynchronous, and inserting audience response questions is a great way to break up the content.

Implementing VoiceThread has been a big win for me and my students this year! Faculty are excited about using this tool, and students are more engaged in the learning activities.


Kimberly Davis, MS, RN, CNE is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Nursing in Richmond, VA. She teaches in a variety of undergraduate nursing courses with a special focus on community health nursing. Kimberly also serves as core faculty for the Center for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Care and is program director for the Care Coordination Certificate at VCU, an interprofessional post-baccalaureate graduate level certificate targeted to health science students. You can contact her at daviskd5 [at]

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