How can technology be used to improve teaching efficiency and student learning inside and outside of the classroom? Through Shenandoah University's EDU 585 Educational Technology Applications course, I'm about to find out. Here I will post about my most recent adventures and discoveries in the field of educational technology as related to the International Society for Technology Education's (ISTE) standards and EDU 585 course assignments.
So much of incorporating
technology in the classroom is the use of visual tools. However, with some avatars,
such as the Voki avatar, instruction with technology becomes auditory. Avatars
are virtual objects that represent the user. In an online, virtual environment,
an avatar portrays its creator to other users who often stand behind their own
unique avatars. In some instances users can even control their avatars to
interact with one another. Of course, not everything you see online is true
which is especially the case when talking about people’s portrayals of
themselves. A blond haired, blue eyed, female may create an avatar that is a
brunette, brown eyed, male. However, this is not always a case of deception.
There is beauty to this. For instance, someone is shy in real-life may be able
to present a more outgoing version of themselves in a virtual environment, potentially
enabling them to experience new things they would not have otherwise or in ways
that they would not have otherwise.
How I Would Use It
students, particularly elementary students and ELL students, are assisted in
their writing when they can hear it read aloud to them. They are likely to make
mistakes that they will not be able or likely to find by rereading their work
for themselves due to weaknesses in their reading ability. These students are
generally better at identifying mistakes in spoken language, therefore, when a
teacher reads their work, they are better able to catch a mistake, find it in
their work, and make a correction. Students may improve their writing and their
editing skills when they are given the opportunity to plug in their writing into
a Voki avatar word box and listen to their Voki “read.”
What I Did
To use Voki’s basic features,
all I had to do was access their website (for more advanced features, users
must register and pay for Voki Classroom). By clicking on the, “create,” tab at
the top of the page, I was able to create a randomized Voki or to choose a character based on my preferences. There are several options to chose from
that will ensure that your Voki is unique to you. By clicking on the head icon
I was able to customize my character. From there, I chose, “classic,” for a human-looking face
although I could have chosen from categories including toons, anime, animals,
politics, etc. Although every avatar can be experimented with, some are only
available for saving through Voki Classroom. Next, I changed my avatar’s hair,
mouth, and clothes. I was even able to change its hair color, eye color, skin
color, lip color, make-up, nose width, height, and weight.
When I finished my character, I
got to chose from an assortment of backgrounds and player colors before adding
my text. I typed up a paragraph to introduce myself in Word and pasted it into
the text box. The player suggested that I might have to spell some words phonetically
to ensure that my avatar said pronounced everything correctly. I had to change
my name, for example, from Lorri to Lo-rie. Finally, I was able to change the
voice of my avatar. This might have been my favorite thing to play around with
as I got to listen to my introduction speech in a British, Australian, southern
accent, and more.
I posted my avatar in an earlier
blog post. Click here to see it.
What I Learned
I don’t have very much knowledge
about avatars. But, after reading this article, I better understand that
avatars can come in my different shapes and sizes, can be used for multiple
purpose, and can be created through multiple programs.
Using advatars in the classroom,
teachers meet standard 4, components, “c,” and, “d,” of the ISTE-NETS-T’s
standards. These components require student communication and collaboration
through digital communication formats in order to gain global and cultural
awareness, using proper internet etiquette.