Monday, February 18, 2008

Part 8 – Podcasts and Avatars: too much fun!

I have stumbled across a few web sites over the past several weeks that have had a rather fascinating and curious feature: a talking head. These little cartoonish-faces have blinked at me, and followed my curser with their eyes when it moved around the page. When I pressed the play button underneath the head, I found that I was listening to someone speak at me, via this “life-like” face.

I now know that these little speaking characters are called avatars. Avatars are a way of personalizing web pages. They can be used in a variety of ways; one being as a greeter or announcer on your web site. Podcasting can be matched up with an avatar to bring both sound, as well as a visual image to one’s message.

I was inspired by the Vokis found on the Disruptive Innovators’ wiki site, where Donna DesRoches and Carlene Walter (librarians) have used avatars to give brief greeting messages.

After reading through some of the blog discussion threads at the Classroom 2.0 web site, several ideas about how avatars (in particular, Vokis), could be used educationally started to emerge. One idea for application was describe by Paul Hardt (January 17, 2008):

“In an intermediate setting, students have been using VOKI to build similar characters to those in the book in which they are reading. Then their animated character verbally applies a skill such as theme, setting or cause and effect, or whatever.... Then when VOKI animates, we are presented with a 2.0 application that allows integration of appropriate skills along with some fun creative animation. Students love it.”

This application was a lot of fun to set up, so I can understand why teachers would want to approach this web tool carefully. Much time and effort can be wasted playing. Yet, when used as part of the finishing touches on a podcast, it creates an impressive looking final project. If I were setting up additional instructions or greetings on my school library home page, I would certainly use a tool such as this to make it more interesting and personalized.

It’s creative and fun! I have added it to my “bag of technology-tricks.”


Arlene said...

Hi Rhonda, I love your voki. I plan try one out, however, I'm not holding my breath as I don't think it will work in Wordpress. Arlene

John Lobe said...

Holy Cow Ronda, that's pretty amazing. Uncanny too, she sort of looks like you.
Can you choose the voices? I will follow the link and try to find an appropriate male persona. Maybe HAL from 2001! John

steph ippen said...

Hi Ronda,

I'm taking a break from polishing my contribution to our research project to cruise the blogs of our fellow EDES 545 compatriots...Wow, have you ever explored a lot of possibilities in the podcast world. It is kind of mind-boggling to think about how many pieces there are to play with in the IT-land. It is very interesting to me that stories still seem to be at the heart of our explorations. Eat,Pray, Love is a book I read about a year ago--but it is one of those that EVERYONE seems to be reading and getting something meaningful out of. This awareness balances my awe at the IT world of possibilities...It is still the power of stories that draws us to libraries and to learning of all kinds, in my opinion.

I guess I am musing, instead of producing...but it is Saturday night in Victoria, after all!

Val said...

Hi Ronda:
Your voki is great. After viewing your Voki I went to the site to explore then left my computer to tend to the kids. My husband came in and shut down the computer, thinking someone was playing games on it. Funny eh? Not that games are bad, he just had no idea I was 'exploring' as part of my course. The fun we can have?

Great quote from Liz Gilbert. I am reading Eat, Pray, Love each day on the ferry to and from work. Spoiler alert if you haven't read it skip the next few sentences. ....right now Liz has just been hit by a bus in Bali and is seeking the advice and healing of a female doctor....what a great book.

Great work on podcasting.

elizabeth said...

Way too much fun with the Voki Ronda, I can see how kids could be motivated with this. I loved the dogs too! I just spent a good half hour looking around on this site and I am beginning to understand how easy it would be to get lost in secondlife. Thanks for the info on this-do you know if you can make recordings longer than 60 seconds?