Are there assignments that students look forward to completing? How can we go beyond boring memorization lessons? Keep reading for one resource that allows today's educators to offer an interactive assignment that your students will look forward to completing.
Comparing the resources available to us years ago with those available to the 21st century student, we see a clear trend toward an interactive education rather than a static one. How do we give our students a foundation in the basics and, at the same time, present it to them in an interactive setting? Reading and writing are basic skills. In a previous post, we talked about an interactive solution for reading. What about writing? How do we make writing fun and interactive?
For a student to look at what s/he has written on paper can be boring and static. Hearing those same words spoken can serve as positive reinforcement. Even better, when the student has the ability to create the character speaking those words, then the student has the desire to write. It is the convergence of the student's literary and visual creations. The ability of the student to bring to fruition these elements stirs in the student a desire to write.
We found an interactive online resource called Voki (http://www.voki.com) that brings together visual and written creations. Here you can create a character based on a number of preset avatars. (See the screenshot below.) From there, you can adjust the size and color of facial features. You can choose various clothing styles. There are several backgrounds to choose from. Once you're done creating your Voki, you can give it something to say. You can record your own voice by phone. You can enter text in several languages. You can record your voice through your computer; or upload an audio file. You can add sound effects to the voice. Then, you can decide which language you would like your Voki to speak. When you're done, you can email your Voki or publish it to your blog/website using the code provided.
Voki in the Classroom
There are an infinite number of possibilities to use Voki in the classroom. Here is just one suggestion: Give your students a paragraph writing assignment. (Voki has a 600 character limitation. Your students should be able to fit 80-90 words in the Voki text entry.) Then tell them that you would like to hear what they have written. Give them the Voki website. Have them create a Voki and enter the writing assignment in the text entry. Then they can email the finished product to you. If you have the ability to connect your computer to a video outlet, (e.g. computer lab, classroom TV, etc.), you can share the Vokis with the whole class.
Below are two examples. The French woman is reading an article about how the year 2010 is tied with 2005 for the warmest year on record. The Spanish robot is reading an article about genetically engineered chickens that don't transmit the avian flu.
This method gives your students an opportunity to create a character that voices the students' written assignment. It is an assignment grounded in the basics that uses 21st century interactive technology. A perfect combination for giving your students an assignment they will look forward to completing. Are you already using Voki? How do you integrate it in the classroom? Let us know in the comments.
Advanced Ways of Using Voki
If you use a website to communicate assignments, expectations, etc., why just put it in writing? Instead of a static webpage, you could create your own Voki, and type the information you want to communicate in the text entry. Copy the code Voki provides for embedding in a website, and paste it in your blog/website. Voila! Your Voki will now speak the assignments to your students from your website.