Tracey Mollins – Using Voki to enhance online learning for adult literacy students

April 30th, 2012 by Monika Jankowska-Pacyna

Voki is a free service where you can create talking heads to post on a blog, website or learning platform.

I have been using Voki to help adult literacy learners who are learning at a distance to follow activity instructions. One of the challenges we face when creating online learning opportunities for literacy learners is developing instructions that are short, concise and easy-to-read. Sometimes we make choices about activities based on how complicated the instructions are. I found Voki to be a big help with this. We can expand the range of activities because we can easily create audio supports for learners.

Many online teachers make videos of themselves giving instructions. This is a good practice when we are addressing a group of learners we will be working with for a period of time. The learners like to see our faces and hear our voices, especially if we are only going to meet online.

Click here for a quick overview of Voki.

When I am creating learning for people I am not going to work with myself, I like to use a more generic “teacher.” I also like the fact that I can make recordings that are visually interesting without worrying about video quality, lighting, backgrounds or whether I have a silly look on my face.

I used Voki characters to enhance AlphaPlus’ Are you ready to learn online? self-assessment tool. We are hoping that learners will be able to use this version independently regardless of reading level. .

A screen capture of Are you ready to learn online? welcome message.

You can see another voki I made on the welcome page for the CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) Literacy Project Moodle site.

A screen capture of the welcome page for the CUPE Literacy Project Moodle site.

When you create a Voki character, you can choose from a range of faces. Many of them are a bit silly but I found the “classic” collection most useful for my purposes. Once you have chosen your character, you can choose clothing, glasses, and jewellery. You can modify skin, eye and hair colours, and change the width of the different features.

You can even choose the background. I chose from the “indoor” set for Are you ready to learn online? because I could choose backgrounds that looked like classrooms and libraries. I chose a big green tree for the CUPE Moodle because that is the logo for the Literacy Project.

 You can also choose the colour of your player to match the colour scheme of your program or the website where you are embedding the voki.

PRO TIP! If you want to use the same character many times, do not make too many changes. You cannot save the character and have to build it from scratch for each voki.

 You can create your message by pasting text into the message box or by recording it one of three ways.

If you paste text into the message box, you will get a screen reader voice but it is not too bad. It works well if you cannot make a recording. There is an example on the Voki home page. You can choose from a number of voices.

There are three ways to record a message. Each recording can be 60 seconds long.

— You can call in by phone. I have not tried this but it looks easy.

— You can record right into the Voki site using a microphone from your device (computer, tablet, phone etc.). I made some vokis this way. One time I had some problems with portions of the message dropping out. It is easy to edit an existing voki so you can keep trying until it works. I think you need a good Internet connection for this.

— You can create an MP3 file on your device and upload it into the voki. This was the method I used. I wanted to keep a copy of the recording on my computer in case the voki got lost. I used Garage Band on a Mac computer to create the recording and then saved it as an MP3 file. If you are not using a Mac device with Garage Band, you can use Audacity (free recording software).

You cannot download and save your voki but you can share it in a number of ways. When you have finished your recording, click on Publish. Once the voki has been saved you will be taken to a page where you can choose how to share your voki.

— You can post it to a blog or a Facebook page or other social network sites.

— You can bookmark it on a number of sites.

— You can copy the html embed code and paste it into a website or learning platform page.

— You can get a URL so that you can share the link with people. Each voki has a page like this: CUPE Welcome

 Voki is the educational version of SitePal. They have a blog with ideas for using voki with students and where they publish student work and lesson plans by teachers. There is also an online forum where teachers can ask questions and share ideas called Teacher’s Corner.

 There is also a classroom package that allows a class of learners to make and share their own voki without creating an account. It costs US $29.95 a year or US $2.50 a month for a subscription.

 If you want to make videos of conversations, a similar site is Go!Animate. I used this once to present a forum discussion
at a meeting.

 If you want to create videos or audio recordings with a slideshow that other people can comment on with text or their own video/audio recordings, try VoiceThread.


LINKS:

Voki – http://www.voki.com/

AlphaPlus Are you ready to learn online? assessment tool – http://ready.alphaplus.ca/moodle1/

CUPE Moodle – http://cupe.alphaplus.ca/moodle1/

Voki Blog – http://blog.voki.com/

Voki Lesson Plans submitted by teachers: – http://www.voki.com/lesson_plans.php

Voki Classroom package – http://www.voki.com/products.php

Voki Teacher’s Corner – http://forums.voki.com/forums/list.page

CUPE Welcome – http://www.voki.com/pickup.php?scid=5793711&height=267&width=200

SitePal – http://www.sitepal.com/

Go!Animate – http://goanimate.com/

VoiceThread – https://voicethread.com/