Have you used Voki in your classroom? It’s a fabulous speaking avatar tool that can be found at www.voki.com I was first made aware of it from the languages side of things from Jo Rhys-Jones (@jowinchester) and Lisa Stevens (@lisibo) as they used it to speak in different languages. This gave the children instructions in Spanish or gave the children the chance to write in French and so on. Since first seeing it, I have used it online in a number of ways including introducing a topic, setting the children a task or advertising a school play (http://stjohnsblogs.co.uk/class11/ye-ha/ ) I blogged about it here
The tool is simple to use and just requires you to choose a character (Santa, the Pope, a bear etc) or create your own and then add sound. This can be done by writing text which it will read back or you can upload your own sound too via mp3. The finished character could then be embedded into a website or blog using some HTML code.
One downside was that children had to be over 13 to create their own Voki account and the other is that often Voki characters had adverts on them too. The answer has now been solved by Voki Classroom which is a tool aimed at schools to help them use Voki with their children.
Adding students is easy as you simply upload a CSV file and voila, you have your usernames. This means that you can give all of your class (or school) a Voki account and let them make their own avatars.
There are a couple of downsides though so let’s get those out of the way first.
1) Children’s logins could be simpler, for example my school looks like this: mickey.mouse:stjohns In my opinion the :stjohns bit isn’t necessary. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, logins need to be simple.
2) Again to do with logging in, passwords need to be changed one by one. This isn’t a huge downside as it only takes 5minutes to change a school, but doing it all at once would make it better.
3) The children need to be set a task before they can create a Voki, they can’t just login and make as many as they like. A freeplay option would be good.
These are only minor gripes and can be dealt with. There are positives too and I am looking forward to sharing it with the children.
The way that it works is you sort your children into classes and then create a ‘lesson’ for them, give it a description and then share it with the pupils. You can set it to be hidden so they don’t see it until later if needed. You can also give the children a URL (via your blog, VLE etc) and let them access it this way. They can have a number of lessons at once and when they create a Voki, it goes into a review area for the teacher to see.
The teacher can then approve it and from there the child can embed it within their blog or website. This then enables others to see it too. Yes, there are some bits that could be tweaked and improved, but overall it costs peanuts and the children love using it. I’ve already got plans in place for some of my digital leaders to make a Santa Voki for the KS1 children in December…
If you want to sign-up to Voki Classroom, it costs just $30 for 180 pupils. Well worth it in my opinion.