Inside the Online Cl@ssroom: Talking Avatars

By Meg Elias

“So many educational technology tools, so little time.”

In December’s issue of Online Cl@ssroom, Madeline Craig evaluates three online tools that she uses in her writing classes at Molley College.  Of the three, I already use Word Clouds and Padlet (a collaborative whiteboard), so I thought I would investigate her third suggestion and create a talking avatar using Voki.

Craig uses her avatars to explain assignment directions, and to give student writing samples a face and a “voice.”  I had seen Voki demonstrated at a CTE workshop, but hadn’t had the time to try it myself until today.  Within a few minutes I was able to sign up for a free account, and create an exam announcement for my online class.

Although there are paid versions of the program, I found that the free package had enough backgrounds and design choices to keep me busy.  There was an option to record my own voice, or I could choose from several auto-generated voices with a variety of accents.  The free version did not allow me to copy an embed code, but pasting the URL into iFrame Generator results in a few lines of code that can be easily inserted into a Desire2Learn news item or widget.

One weakness of the program is that there is no option to closed caption the video, which means it’s not accessible to deaf and hard of hearing students.  If I decide to post any Vokis in my online class, I will keep them very short (one or two sentences), and provide the text next to or below the video.  For longer videos, The Official Voki blog suggests using a screen recorder like Kaltura to capture and caption the video.

If you want to explore Voki, the iFrame Generator, Kaltura, or any additional online tools, visit us in the CTE Tech room during our open hours.

Online Cl@ssroom includes summarized articles from various educational publications, as well as original articles from university and college instructors. If you are interested in viewing articles in this and/or other publications, contact Meg Elias (clarkm1@star.lcc.edu) or stop by the CTE, TLC 324. 

Reference: Craig, M. “Three Tools for Improving Student Work.” Online Cl@ssroom.  16.12 (2016): 1. Print.

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