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Voki

I introduced Voki to EmergingEdTech readers back in 2011, and its overdue for another mention! This is a such a fun tool. Guest writer James Thompson offers a handful of approaches to using this unique application in teaching and learning. – KW

Discover Voki, a fun, unique tool for your classroom and students. The idea behind this application is to create custom-made avatars (characters that resemble living people) and give them a set of instructions to say something.

Gone are the days when asking your students to speak in front of the classroom or write up a short essay were the only ways to present. Welcome to the 21st century where technology presents us with a multitude of ways to do things – and when it comes to using technology, the kids simply love it!

You can create a free Voki account that allows for a 60 second clip, or you can for the premium version of Voki Classroom (under $30/year!), which provides for longer clips, a Classroom Management System, and more. This Classroom Management System allows you to manage lessons, review work, modify instructions, talk to other teachers using the program, and receive teaching tips offered by others in a “teacher’s corner”.

Here are some approaches you can use this tool in the classroom:

  • For Language Classes: Students can design their Avatar to speak the language they are learning. A set of instructions could be given to, for example, pronounce new words or state their definitions. Students can use their Avatar as a teacher who speaks the correct version of the word and definition after they have spoken it. This is similar to the use of flash cards, except it is more exciting and way more fun!
  • Display Historical Figures: With the paid account, you can pick avatars of pre-made important historical figures. Instead of telling the students about their historical significance, allow your Avatar to do the speaking itself. They could give first-person accounts of what happened during their time and highlight important events. You can expect the students to listen to this not-so-boring-anymore history lectures!
  • To Summarize a Lesson: If you are interested in knowing what the students have been gaining from your lessons or lectures, you can assign a fun class assignment by asking them to give a short one-minute summary of your previous lecture. Their Avatar could be the teacher (it could even be you) speaking about a recently learned subject and summarizing the most important points.
  • For a presentation: Presenting in front of a classroom full of people is not everyone’s cup of tea. Do your shy students a favor by requiring a classroom presentation on an assigned subject through their avatar. You can make the project more creative by asking them to create a character that would most likely fit the role of the person presenting. The only disadvantage is that they will be limited to only 60 (or 90) seconds to present. However, the peers will have fun listening to a funny talking character instead of a monotonous, bashful student.
  • To Substitute You: For teachers, the worst part of teaching could be when the students start yawning, start chatting with their peers, and seem utterly un-interested in what they have to say. Young students don’t always have a fabulous attention span and easily get distracted by the next thing that pops-up. You could bring your lecture to life by asking your Avatar to do the talking instead of you. The quirky character will certainly increase their attention span.
  • Assigning Work: Let your avatar do the work delegation, and in the mean time you get to make a presentation. Humanize that boring Word Doc with a list of projects or assignment instructions and let the Avatar articulate what they are expected to do. The clip can be added to your shared classroom folder that students can re-open and hear the instructions again whenever they need to.

For more ideas you can check out the Lesson Plan and Activities page through your Voki account or go on the Voki blog for more ideas. Teachers will share their own ideas and “tips of the week”.

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Screencast-O-Matic Provides Free Screencasting, and Adds Additional Powerful Functionality for Just $15 a Year!

This week on the Try-a-Tool-a-Week Challenge, we’re checking out Screencast-O-Matic. The Challenge is an easy, fun thing we’ve been doing on the site here in which anyone who signs up to get an email about each week’s new tool gets to learn about, and try, a great free web app (click here to learn all about the challenge, which is running from March through May, with prizes awarded at the end!).

Screencasting, or capturing what you do on your computer (or tablet) in a video format while you narrate your actions, is one of the most powerful functions that modern computer technology has delivered to today’s educators.

There are a number of free screen casting tools available. One of the mainstays is Screencast-O-Matic, which is available as a web app, or as a download for your PC or Mac. The free version limits users to 15 minute videos and it does not provide editing capabilities. You can, however, get upgraded and get editing functionality and unlimited video length for only $15 a year!

Here’s our Newest 3 Minute Teaching With Technology Video, Introducing Screencast-O-Matic:

Click here to access all of our 3 Minute Teaching With Technology Tutorial Videos!

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