Voicethread.com is a site that allows for interactive, multimedia group conversations to be held by users via a browser-based web application. Each Voicethread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that can hold images, documents, and videos. Users can leave comments for any slide in the slide show in one of 5 ways – voice (using a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Voicethreads can easily be shared simply by sharing the URL to the Voicethread. Users can also “doodle” on a slide in a Voicethread using simple drawing tools.
Creating a Voicethread is easy using the browser-based editor provided by the site. Users first upload the images, documents and videos which will be contained in the Voicethread. These are then added to the Voicethread as individual slides along with any comments the user wants to add. Then the Voicethread is saved and the URL can be shared with others, or the Voicethread can be exported to an MP3 player or DVD. Other users can add their input to the Voicethread by visiting the URL (they must be registered to use the Voicethread site).
Boca Raton, FL-based Voicethread.com was founded by Benji Papell and Steve Muth in March 2007. The site has undergone steady growth since launch, and has recently launched a sister site strictly for use by educators, Ed.Voicethread.com.
Competition to Voicethread comes from sites such as OurStory.com. The OurStory site offers a service very similar to Voicethread, except that it is entirely free and advertising supported. By contrast, there is no advertising shown on the Voicethread site and a free membership at Voicethread is limited. The Our Story site also has less users than Voicethread.
The Voicethread site has a very Web 2.0 look and feel. The site is quite responsive. Page loads are almost instantaneous, even within the Voicethread editor. Once logged into the site, there is a convenient top menu bar used for navigation. The tabs on the top menu bar include Create, which opens the Voicethread editor, Browse, which allows users to browse existing Voicethreads, and MyVoice, which allows users to keep track of the Voicethreads they have created. The site is also quite responsive to file uploads and downloads.
Registration is free and is required to use the Voicethread site. The registration process asks for name, email address and password. Validation of the email address is not required. A free membership to the Voicethread site has several limitations, including a limit of 3 Voicethreads, a limit of 30 minutes to video commenting, a storage limit of 75MB and a filesize limit of 25MB.
Several levels of premium memberships are available. A Pro membership is for individuals, and costs $59.95 per year. The Pro membership allows for unlimited Voicethreads, unlimited video commenting, 10GB of storage and a 100MB filesize limit. Memberships are also available for K-12 educational institutions, Higher Ed educational institutions, and Businesses.
The Voicethread site is recommended to anyone having a need to create a collaborative multimedia presentation. It is ideal for presentations about family vacations, group meetings and organizational activities. The ability of other users to comment on the presentation in a variety of ways makes the presentation very flexible. The site is also recommended to educational institutions for use as a teaching tool, and to businesses as a way for a geographically diverse group to collaborate on a project.