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Voki Is A Fun, Free Animated Avatar Application That’s Easy To Use In The Classroom

by Kelly Walsh on January 30, 2011

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Voki makes it easy for educators to incorporate technology into lesson plans and assignments (and it’s advertisement free!).

A couple weeks ago in the post “3 Quick Lesson Plan Ideas That Utilize Technology”, we explored some ways in which animation web sites could be used in the classroom. These types of tools were new to me and struck me, and readers who commented, as a great way to engage students in preparing assignments, reports, or projects.

I had a lot of fun getting hands-on and trying out GoAnimate (as illustrated in this video blog post), and I’ve been looking forward to exploring Voki, the other site suggested by guest writer Rebecca Garland in that post.

This weekend I spent some time with Voki, and had fun learning about Voki’s resources for educators, and creating and using my own Avatar. In the video below, I show how easy it was to create a customized speaking avatar using Voki. In the rest of the post, I discuss some of Voki’s resources for educators.

The folks at Voki are clearly focused on education, and have created a special “Voki for Education” web site section. Two of the main resources provided for educators are a Lesson Plans database and a Teacher’s Corner forum.

Voki’s Lesson Plans Database
Voki’s database of lesson plans is searchable by grade level and subject area. Objectives, Materials, and Activities for each lesson are clearly laid out, and the lesson plans can all be rated. Following are a few examples of some of their top rated Lesson Plans:

  • Community History (Grade Level: 7th Grade):  In this lesson, students analyze the development of a community, use interactive media, and learn interview skills.
  • Delivery (Grade Level: Higher Ed):  Students learn about how to identify and read nonverbal communication, and how body language can be perceived by an audience.
  • Hygiene (Grade Level: 1st Grade): Using Smartboard and Voki, students learn about good oral hygiene, why brushing your teeth is important, and which foods are bad for the teeth, while developing better reading comprehension.

The Teacher’s Corner
The forum provides 5 discussion areas: Q&A, Ideas & Feature Requests, a “Newbie’s Corner”, Voki in the Classroom, and a section for Voki Partner Sites. The forum includes quick links to access “Recent Topics”, “Hottest Topics”, and a Search function. Some of the Hot Topics that looked particularly interesting to me were threads focused on embedding your Voki creations in other apps, like PowerPoint 2010, Blackboard, and Blogger.

Wrap Up
I think Voki is pretty cool, and I bet you probably will too. I can’t believe I haven’t come across more information and discussion about using animation tools in course work before. Voki and GoAnimator are just two of many of these types of tools available online, for free. While Voki is geared towards the creation of simple speaking avatars, GoAnimator lets you create little animated movies. Another example is MakeBeliefsComix, which bills itself as an “Online Educational Comix Generator for Kids of All Ages” (thank you to Ryan Moulden for mentioning this in a comment on the “3 Quick Lesson Plan Ideas …” post).

The one primary shortcoming of Voki that occurs to me is the 1 minute limit to what can be recorded for a given avatar. Multiple avatars can be created, but I saw no obvious way to simply copy an avatar so you could then record more speech to create a new “scene” for it. Additionally, there did not seem to be any apparent help utility (beyond an FAQ section). If I just missed this, and someone knows how to find help or request help in Voki, kindly comment and point it out.

I’d love to hear more about these kinds of apps and how readers are using them in the classroom. If you’ve used these or other animations applications, or if you have some questions, please don’t hesitate to comment below and share your observations or thoughts.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Vuvox Rocks (what a great tool for creating student reports and teacher presentations)
Comparing 12 Free Screencasting Tools
3 Quick Lesson Plan Ideas That Utilize Technology

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer and a faculty member at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Hap Aziz December 30, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Though the post is nearly a year old, the content is quite useful still. I’ve been exploring the concepts behind avatars at the blog, and I posted the video tutorial, with credit and link back to this site, of course! Here’s the post (and you can get to the rest of the blog from there).

http://hapaziz.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/creating-custom-avatars-with-voki-com/

K. Walsh February 3, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Thanks for the enthusiam Khala! Your comments are always encouraging. I just wish Voki would allow avatars to record more than 60 seconds. Of course, you can make several avatars and play one after the other, but it seems you have to create each from scratch (can’t copy). Maybe there’s something I missed. Honestly, I was a little disappointed that no one from Voki picked up on this and provided any feedback on it.

Khala Johnson February 2, 2011 at 10:04 am

Hi Kelly,

This is great! What I especially like about this program is that students from first grade, all the way to higher education, can find interesting ways to utilize these tools.
Working in higher education, this would be great in allowing students to learn about technology, how to use it, and perhaps even use their own avatar to give a class presentation. Like you mentioned in your article, it would be an interesting “take” on how to read body language, and reveal how you’re being read by your audience.

Thank you for the information!

Elissa Clemons January 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm

This is great information! With so articles and discussion on engaging millenials in education I cannot believe that we do not hear more about Voki or many of the other sites that you mention in your post. I am grateful for the information that was shared a few weeks introducing me to Voki and GoAnimate. I briefly explored “Voki for Education” site and I was amazed at the information available. Both sites are not only beneficial to educators but can provide parents with resources to continue learning outside of the classroom. For instance parents can have children create an avatar that recaps what they learned in class at the end of the week. Reinforcing the knowledge learned in the classroom.

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