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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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We Have to Stop Pretending … #makeschooldifferent

April 21, 2015

Scott McLeod writes the blog Dangerously Irrelevant and I’ve followed him ever since I started EmergingEdTech back in 2009. This week, he wrote this post, “We Have to Stop Pretending“, and he challenged other education and technology bloggers to offer their spin on 5 things we have to stop pretending are acceptable in education today. […]

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8 Examples of Transforming Lessons Through the SAMR Cycle

April 20, 2015

Examples of Applying the SAMR Model can Help Teachers Understand and Embrace it The SAMR Model for integrating technology into teaching, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, has gained a good deal of exposure in recent years. “SAMR” is an acronym that stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. The SAMR model provides a technique for […]

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Digital Learning Tweet Wrap for the Week Ending 04-18-15

April 19, 2015

Inspiring, informative, useful, or just plain fun tweets about education and instructional technology articles, resources, etc. (Originally posted on Twitter by @EmergingEdTech over this past week … collected here to share with our blog readers). This week … nominate an educator or administrator for a Digital Innovation Award, using tech to encourage positive behavior, the […]

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How Your Students can Know WHAT’S DUE, 2015 Style

April 16, 2015

Free App Makes it a Snap to Keep Students, Parents, up to Date on … What’s Due! This is a great free app, although be forewarned that your colleagues might get a little frustrated when your students start asking them, “Why don’t you use the WhatsDueApp too?”! The process for the teacher is a snap […]

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Higher Ed Survey on BYOD, 1-to-1, VDI and Mobile Student Computing (Using or Planning to use)

April 15, 2015

Survey looks to gather insights, trends regarding BYOD and 1-to-1 Device Programs for Students in Higher Education, as well as the Growth of VDI and DaaS to Support Those Approaches. We’re working through a new multi-year Strategic Technology Planning process at The College of Westchester and we’re thinking about BYOD versus 1-to-1 device programs […]

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OER in 2015 – The Future has Never Looked Brighter

April 14, 2015

Awareness has Been Slow to Evolve, but OER Appears to be Well Positioned for Growth Thanks to Numerous Encouraging Developments. Have you heard of OER … Open Educational Resources? If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably have, but it seems that many educators have not. Open Education Resources are FREE, that’s […]

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100’s of Android App Recommendations for Teaching and Learning

April 13, 2015

We’ve combed and curated the Web to find collections of the best apps for students and for teaching and learning, specifically for Android-based tablets and smartphones. Following are hundreds of recommendations from respected sources! The 50 Best Education Apps For Android from TeachThought: Best Android Apps for Kids from CommonSenseMedia 11 best Android […]

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Digital Learning & Teaching Tweet Wrap for the Week Ending 04-11-15

April 12, 2015

Inspiring, informative, useful, or just plain fun tweets about education and instructional technology articles, resources, etc. (Originally posted on Twitter by @EmergingEdTech over this past week … collected here to share with our blog readers). This week … Screencasting Tips, make your iPad faster, moving forward through ‘Strategic Tech Abandonment’, the evolving state of Adaptive […]

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