Thursday, October 6, 2011

D-LIT: Designing Information Using Voki

Designing information is at the core of our D-LIT approach to learning. Using design, literacy, information, and technology together builds a better understanding of content for students. Having flexibility and choice over how to present their information allows them to own it. As in our earlier posts about D-LIT using Storybird and Voicethread, Voki is another Web 2.0 tool that is easy to use in the classroom. Voki lets users design speaking avatars that can be shared and posted on the web. Its ease of use makes for a simple way for students even in the younger grades to publish content about what they are learning. Voki has a host of different characters to choose from to create the avatars, complete with a multitude of voices. Voice information can be typed, avoiding the problems that come with trying to record an entire class. The message, too, is limited to a certain amount of characters, similar to a “tweet.” Voki Classroom also allows teachers to set up an account with a “Teacher ID” for their classes for a nominal fee. With a classroom account, students do not need to sign up, and the teacher can add and manage the account.

Internet Smarts
Two content areas in which we had students use Voki were for our digital literacy and media literacy units. It can, however, be applied to any area across the curricula. In our efforts to promote digital, savvy students on the importance of personal information and online safety, Voki became a perfect tool to present their digital tips to their fellow classmates. The choice in allowing students to create the content to teach others was a motivating factor in making this project successful. A selection of these talking avatars was also chosen to share with others at an all-school assembly about online safety and cyberbullying. Their messages were clear, concise and to the point. The students were also proud to present their messages.

Media Literacy
We also used Voki as part of our media literacy unit called “Question It.” Students created avatars to question advertising, understand media industry lingo, and promote awareness when viewing different types of media. Each student was given the task to design a talking avatar to present their information on their specific topics, including television, music, movies, magazines, computer games, news reports and online. It was a successful way for each group to present their information, not only to their own classes but also to younger students, using their Voki avatars to teach about media literacy.

Using Voki, just like other Web 2.0 tools such as Storybird and VoiceThread, was another way to get kids “juiced” about learning. The students created more than required when authoring and publishing their digital and media tips. They took pride in designing information, because they owned it. On top of that, they learned the content that was sparked by their own creativity. Voki was a way to “educate, engage and enjoy” what they were learning using D-LIT.

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