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Voki - Avatars in Education

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Using Speaking Avatar or Voki for Teaching

A Voki is a talking voice character, a computer-generated version of oneself. The more generic term for a Voki is a speaking avatar, a digital representation of a person or being. Teachers and educators are discovering some of the unique roles these speaking avatars can play in education particularly in the online classroom.

For teachers these speaking avatars can add a more "human" element to the online class website or blog. It is especially useful for those of us who may not be all that great with video taping or vodcasting.

Instructors can use a voki avatar to introduce the course or topics. It can also be used to aid in instructing those who are more audio/visual learners.

Voki is a very helpful way to get shy students involved, to get foreign language students to feel more comfortable talking, to help students proofread their papers and to share comments with students in other countries.

Let's learn more about using Voki in Education.

Image: Voki of the image I used for my course Nutrition Blog. (My kids don't think the Voki looks much like me).

What is a Speaking Avatar or Voki?

Voki is simply a talking voice character. These animated characters or avatars enable users to express themselves on the web with a voice but as a talking character.

You can customize your Voki to look like you or take on the identity of lots of other types of characters--animals, monsters, anime etc.

You can even have your Voki speak with your own voice by adding your voice with a microphone, upload, or by phone.

Vox + Loki = Voki

"Vox" is Latin for voice.

"Loki" is a prankster character

in Norse Mythology.

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Using Speaking Avatars in Online Education

Avatars are excellent for online education. They provide the human interaction that is natural in classrooms and in the traditional learning environment.

Message boards, email, and instant messaging are great tools for writing. But what about voice communication! Posting a question on a message board is useful but many times asking the question is better. It is instant, direct, and uses the nuance of voice.

Skype works well but avatars are better.

Source: Cohen A. November 2007. Avatars and Education. Classrooms without Walls.

Voki Website Resources

  • Voki Home
    Create your own Voki - a speaking avatar.
  • Voki | Facebook
    Voki - Welcome! Voki is a free service that allows educators to create personalized speaking avatars and use them in the classroom to motivate, excite and teach students. Students use Voki for blogs & assignments. Visit to get your Voki!
  • Voki | Twitter
    Voki is a free service that allows you to create personalized speaking avatars and use them on your blog, profile, and in email messages. Great for school! Follow Voki (officialvoki) and get their latest updates

Avatars provide a face to the students and a face to the teacher.

They provide the human element to online teaching.

— A Cohen

Voki Classroom

Introducing Voki Classroom

Find out how Voki makes learning and teaching fun from OfficialVoki.

Ways to Use a Voki in the Classroom

Helen Otway offers the following suggestions for ways to use a Voki in an educational context in the classroom. Here thoughts are a summary from a Classroom2.0 discussion :

  1. Students can create avatars that are similar in looks or personalities and record a message that tells about themselves.
  2. Students can exchange these avatars with e-pals either within their own setting or anywhere in the world.
  3. Students can generate questions to ask their avatar e-pals.
  4. ESL (English as a Second Language) students can use the speaking avatars to practice and listen to their speech. They may use the computerised voice first then record their own voice when they feel more comfortable. Writing, reading and pronunciation are all practised.
  5. Students can create an avatar that resembles a character from a story, add a setting and give it speech. The speech could be from the story or a creative point of view (POV) from the character on an event.

Source: Helen Otway. January 2008. Voki avatars in the classroom. More than just knowing stuff! Edublog.

More on Voki Classroom

I'm delighted Oddcast the company who runs Voki have decided to make a free alternative to their commercial service Sitepal designed for businesses to promote their products as it create a whole range of new opportunities for language teachers wanting to extending their pupils' speaking skills in a fun and engaging way.

— Joe Dale

Voki - A Free Alternative to Sitepal

Source: Dale J. 2007. Voki - animated avatars to get your pupils talking in a foreign language of your choice. Integrating ICT into the MFL classroom blog.

Thoughts on Using a Voki in Education

What do you think about using a Voki as a teaching tool?

Vokis For Education

Voki For Education Leson Plans

  • Voki Lesson Plans Database
    Get Inspired! with Voki Lesson Plans from Teachers like you! View and share Voki lesson plan with other teachers in the Lesson Plan section.

Web 2.0: How-To for Educators

A Voki Example by Jamie on YouTube

Making the Most of the Web in Your Classroom

Using Vokis in the Classroom

Examples of Vokis being used for education.

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Create and customize your Voki speaking character to express yourself, communicate & interact with your friends.

Posts about Vokis' Education Site

Voki can get students involved

Vokis Can Help Shy Students "Speak Up"

It occurred to me that we all have pupils who won't shut up in our lessons: coyness is a concept alien to them. However there are others who are painfully shy, who seldom say anything in class and we would like to include and give them an opportunity to shine.

I wonder whether it would better suit the latter to record themselves in the privacy and comfort of their own home and then produce the Voki avatars in class, along with all the other pupils' avatar creations. What a great homework that would be!

J Picardo

Source: Picardo J. Get the kids talking - How using Voki might help. Box of Tricks.

Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools in the Amazon Spotlight

Articles on Using Vokis in the Classroom

Use Vokis to Help Proofread

Using a Voki to Proofread a 4th Assignment

When I was talking to my daughter about using Vokis in education, I explained that they were used to help students proofread their papers.

Knowing that the Vokis had been used by other students for proof-reading, my younger daughter thought she would give it a try. She typed in a paper for her 4th grade class and had the Voki speak it back to her.

The process was rather interesting, because she could tell when she had mis-typed a word, when she had misspelled a word and also when she had chosen the wrong word in the sentence.

It definitely was a help for her, going beyond the days of simply reading your paper aloud to proofread.

Vokis are Being Used to Help Students Proofread

In the video clip interview below, students are finding ways to use Vokis to improve their writing. By having their Voki's speak the children's writings and their stories, students can self-discover errors in their writing and gives them the chance to correct their own papers.

Some of the errors discovered by the students included:

  1. Discovered their writing doesn't make sense.
  2. Need more periods, because "it's one big blog!"
  3. Spelling errors, sounded wrong when the avatar says the word.

Conferring with an Avatar: Using Voki for Proofreading

Interviews with students who are using text-to-speech software (Web 2.0 Avatars) Vokis to listen to their writing aloud.

Vokis have great potential in the classroom for students not comfortable being videoed.

Examples of Younger Children's Vokis

voki


These are Voki's created by my daughters using my account. It is interesting that they picked Voki's that were older than themselves, where many people my age would pick Voki's younger than themselves.

Note: According to Voki's terms of service children below the age of 13 may not use Voki under their own accounts.

Don't Bother Me Mom--I'm Learning!

Voki Avatars Used by Younger Students

  • Reader2Reader Blog - Uses a Voki
    This blog provides a way for fifth grade students at Central School to work cooperatively, in pairs and in groups, to practice their "information" skills.
  • Voki | A Journey into Learning
    A look at how students in the U.K. exchanged work with their partner school in Ghana using Vokis.

Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms on Amazon

A Voki can create new ways for teachers who want to get their students 'talking' in a fun and engaging way.

Using Vokis to Speak Foreign Languages

Vokis for Use by Language Teachers

[Vokis] create a whole range of new opportunities for language teachers wanting to extending their pupils' speaking skills in a fun and engaging way. Why not try it out with your pupils and and see if it gets them talking.

Joe Dale

Source: Dale J. 2007. Voki - animated avatars to get your pupils talking in a foreign language of your choice. Integrating ICT into the MFL classroom blog.

The Impact of Voki on EFL Learners' Speaking Performance

French Speaking Voki on YouTube

An example used in a presentation at ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) 2008.

Books on Online Learning on Amazon

Make Your Own Voki

Video Clips on Working with Vokis

TeacherTube and others have created several helpful videos on using Vokis in Education.

Voki Tutorial - Video

Hot to Get Started with Vokis

Hot to Create a Voki

How to Create Your Own Voki

  1. Create your own Voki account at www.voki.com

    * Select Register (top right)

    * Fill in the required information

    * You need an email account to confirm your registration. An activation email will be sent to the email address used.

  2. Once Registered, Login to the Voki site
  3. Follow the three steps

    * 1.) Create a voki, add audio

    * 2.) Add code to your site

    * 3.) Update is from here

  4. Create a Voki, Add Audio

    * Customize your character

    * Give it a Voice

    * Choose a Background

    * Pick a Player color

    * Publish it to email or get code to put it on a website.

  5. Add code to your site
  6. Before getting the code you need to follow two steps to pick where the voki will be embedded and the size that you want:

    1.) Embed in:

    * Standard Web Page (Voki)

    * MySpace

    * Other

    * Blogger

    * Other (Java Script)

    2.) Size:

    * Large (300 X 400)

    * Small (200 x 267)

    * Custom Dimensions

  7. Copy and paste the code into your webpage
  8. Embed your voki on your webpage.
  9. Do a victory dance to celebrate your success.

Updated and adapted from Julz. 2007. How to Create and Add Your Voki. RETAzens Blog.

How to Create and Add a Voki to Your Blog

Watch how these kids tell you how to created and use a voki.

Voki is only for non-commercial use!

.edu: Technology and Learning Environments in Higher Education

An Avatar

A digital representation

of a person or being.

Creating Avatars in the Palace

What kinds of avatars do members create for themselves? Some are pictures or icons borrowed from internet archives, scanned from hardcopy, or taken from other digital sources.

Users might edit or combine these pictures according to their particular tastes.

Some artistic members create props from scratch, although this is a fairly rare - and envious - skill. The technical and artistic ability one demonstrates through personal avs is an important source of self-esteem and social status.

John Suler

Source: Suler J. Jan 2007. The Psychology of Avatars and Graphical Space in Multimedia Chat Communities: A Study of The Palace. Psychology of Cyberspace.

Research Articles on Avatars

Exploring the Addictive Qualities of Avatars

Avatars are a unique cyber product that hold much potential to be a market success because they provide consumers with various psychological benefits such as anonymous personalization and an artificial sense of well-being in cyberspace.

However, due to the very nature of avatars, consumer psychology, and the way that they are marketed to teenage consumers, avatars may also pose considerable threat to unsuspecting teenagers through addictive consumption and associated negative social consequences causing harm to the teenagers and the general public.

O Lee & M Shin

From: Lee O, Shin M. Addictive consumption of avatars in cyberspace. Cyberpsychol Behav. 2004 Aug;7(4):417-20.

Articles and Comments on Avatars in Education

Avatars at Work and Play on Amazon

Hello Avatar on Amazon

What do you think about using Vokis in the Classroom?

Share your ideas about using Vokis in the Classroom.

Comment on Vokis in Education

Kirsti A. Dyer (author) from Northern California on October 05, 2012:

@anonymous: My 10 year old recently used a Voki to read her paper back to her, so she could check for grammar and word errors. Guess she had been listening.

anonymous on October 05, 2012:

What a terrific way to teach! *blessed*

a1studycenter on August 30, 2012:

Great idea, great resource it is for all of us.

Kirsti A. Dyer (author) from Northern California on August 27, 2012:

@roseannyoung: It is a fun resource for students of many ages.

roseannyoung on August 27, 2012:

Love the idea. Personalization helps us take ownership.

DMVAgent on August 07, 2012:

The lens gave an instructive lessons to us, thank you for sharing, this will be a good reference.

Kirsti A. Dyer (author) from Northern California on July 18, 2012:

@planetgpa11: I agree that Vokis are great for shy students. It gives them a voice.

planetgpa11 on July 18, 2012:

Voki ! Very great educational tool for shy students. For teachers it comes to be a very difficult situation when some of students are shy in sharing their views in crowed. Voki avatar is very helpful in teaching because of its audio visual technique. Generally kids love the avatar that can interact with them. Voki has definitely changed the education technique.

Study in USA

Linda Pogue from Missouri on June 03, 2012:

I think Vokis will add lots of fun to the learning. Blessings!

Buchamar on December 14, 2011:

never seen this, good find.

photograph on November 02, 2011:

great!

gosmart on October 29, 2011:

I think it's a very clever way to get students involved and to make classroom activities more interesting.

Steve Jones from Birmingham UK on October 19, 2011:

I never encountered Vokis before - Thanks !

KarenCookieJar on August 20, 2011:

This is a good idea for people who are a little shy in front of a camera.

lasertek lm on June 09, 2011:

this would be really interesting.

btw, Very informative and great looking lens. Awesome job!

Take a peek at my lens, Homeschooling 101: Guide to Free Curriculum and Other Resources.

bead at home mom on February 19, 2011:

Wow! Lots of info. I had wondered about these and how to access. Thanks for all the great info.

Heidi Reina from USA on February 14, 2011:

Great guidance on using Vokis in Education applications. Blessed by a Squid Angel ~

Sensitive Fern on September 28, 2010:

Fascinating! I've spent a lot of time in Second Life and being an avatar in that way, but I didn't know about Vokis. As much as I like it, after four years of being visually represented as an enhanced human I'm starting to be concerned about how easy it is to become addicted to that and withdraw from real human interactions. I think this is an idea with great potential, but it's not fully realized yet. Great lens!

Indigo Janson from UK on September 17, 2010:

What a fantastic idea the Voki is! I have an interest in this kind of thing so was surprised I had never heard of them before, thanks for the introduction and all the resources you have shared here. I'll lensroll this to my online learning and Second Life lenses.