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I have heard teachers say, “To be a good teacher these days, you have to tap dance and put on a big show.”  That is probably what it takes in this day and age.  Just like my mechanic told me about my rough running vehicle with 180,000 miles on it, “That is just the nature of the beast.”  That is just the way it is.  Today’s learner is surrounded and bombarded with devices, distractions, and constant entertainment from the time they leave school until they return the next morning.  We have to put some effort, creativity, and fun into our lessons.  Remember, if you do what you always have done, then you will always get what you have always gotten.  Teachers, as well as students, will become more engaged in a lesson or project if we are all using our imagination and creativity.

Voki enables users to express themselves on the web in their own voice or text-to-speech using 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. Your Voki can speak in a variety of methods including your own voice which can be added via microphone, upload, or phone.

How to Get Started

  •  Go to Voki.com
  • Teachers and students 13 and older could register and create an account.  I recommend this, because having an account will allow all Vokis that you create to be saved, edited, and retrieved easily.
  • To create your Voki, click the create tab.

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  • Under Customize Your Character, click on the head.
  • From here you can look through categories of characters such as oddballs, randoms, and VIPs.  There are more than three categories, you can go through them by clicking on the arrows at the end of the row.  Any characters where you see a graduation cap, is not free.  Once you choose a character, you can click on the hair and lips to customize those.  For example, if you choose a character with a mo-hawk, it can probably be changed to some other hair style.  Then, you you can click on the clothing and bling tabs to change out the clothing and add jewelry, sunglasses, and other items.  When you are finished with all three tabs, then click done at the bottom of this menu.  NOTE: All characters do not have the same options.  Some characters have more clothing, hair, and bling options.

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  • Skip the Give it a Voice section and go down to the player and backgrounds.

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  • Just like when you chose your character, you can choose from several categories of backgrounds such as, city views, landscapes, beaches, and others.  The players button allows you to change the color of your frame that your Voki is in.
  • If you want your Voki to be futher away so that you can see him/her better, click on the magnifying glass to the bottom right of your character.  It will then allow you to to click on a plus or minus sign that will bring him/her forward or backward in the scene.  If you want to move the character left or right, then simply click and drag your character to the position you wish.

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  • In that same area, you will see color and tweak tabs.  The color tab allows you to modify the colors on your mouth, eyes, skin, and hair.  The tweak tab allows you to change the size of your mouth, head, and body.
  • Once you have your character looking the way you like, then lets add the voice.
  • There are a few ways that you can add a voice.  You can call in and record your voice with your phone.  If your device has a microphone, then you can just record that way.  You can do a text -to-speech method where you can choose from several male or female voices from the United States, Britain, and Australia.  Lastly, you can upload an audio file that you have already created.

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  • When you get your character looking and sounding the way you like, then click on the publish button.  From that point it will ask you to give it a name.  If you have an account that is how you will identify it, if you have several saved. If you do not have an account, then it really does not matter what you name it.  If you do not have an account, it may ask you to create one.  If you’re not 13 years of age or over, then just X out of it.

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  • Whether you have an account or not, you can share it out multiple ways.  You can share on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Word Press, and Blogger by just clicking on the buttons.  You can copy the permalink and paste it in your browsers URL bar.  From that point you can bookmark it or make it a favorite.  You can email it to a friend.  Lastly, if you have a webpage, you can copy and paste the embed code onto your site.  Your Voki will come to life for visitors of your website.

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  • That is pretty much it!  It is one of the most user friendly sites I have used.

Suggested Uses

  • Students or teachers could use this tool to introduce themselves to the class.
  • Teachers can use this tool to make announcements or ask weekly questions.
  • Students can create an Avatar of a famous person and use the information in a report to have that person tell about themselves.
  • Students can use Voki to read their reports and other writing assignments.
  • To aid resource students, teachers can record oral pronunciation of vocabulary words as a review-guide for upcoming assessments.
  • Foreign language students can use Voki to speak “in character” for different assignments.
  • Students can compare and contrast between themselves and their avatar.
  • A student could create two Vokies and each Voki could tell a different point of view about a topic.
  • Science teachers could use a Voki to give instructions for each step of an experiment.  If anyone needs instructions repeated, just replay the Voki.
  • Students can create a Voki for different characters in a book or novel and have them report on parts of the book from that character’s point of view.

Why It Matters (Teacher Rubric)

2.2 Presenting Instructional Content–Voki is a way that teachers would be consistently uses a variety of ways to engage with content and maintain student interest, extend and apply content, concepts, and academic vocabulary appropriately.

1.1 For lesson pacing and structure, Voki would be an excellent way to structure transition time so that instruction time is maximized.

Additional Resources

Your Challenge

If you have never, used Voki.com, then I challenge you to create an account and tell us how you used it in your classroom.  If you already have a Voki.com account or have used it, then please share how you have used it in your classroom or school and how your students reacted to it.


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Jeffrey Tron
I graduated from the University of Southern Indiana in 1993. I got my masters degree in education in 1999 from Indiana Wesleyan University. I taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade at Helfrich Park STEM Academy for 17 years. While there, I was the technology coordinator, student council rep, book coordinator, and I ran the announcements on the television studio. I taught reading, English, mathematics, social studies, science, and health in all three grade levels. In the summer of 2010, I worked for the IDOE to help implement the Indiana Science Initiative. I led several workshops around the state helping teachers integrate notebooking and hands-on science kits in their classrooms. During the 2010-2011 school year, I taught fourth grade science at Fairlawn Elementary School. I am currently an eLearning Coach for an elementary school, two middle schools, and a high school. I love technology and I love teaching and helping teachers. Put the two together and you have my dream job. I am very excited about being an eLearning coach and helping others implement technology into their daily instruction.

18 COMMENTS

  1. I have used Tellagami before and played with Voki before. I haven’t used them in class yet, but I am thinking I could use it for directions for a lab or adding a little extra into notes – perhaps having George Washington tell about Trenton or Valley Forge or his term as president. There are some great options here and I will be playing with it more, and may use it this week in Social Studies.

  2. Voki is a wonderful tool to use to enhance instruction, especially when creating an online course for your students. I have not used this particular Avatar creator, but have used WeeMee. There is a creative element to WeeMee and I can type dialog, but I haven’t located a speaking feature. That is what is really cool about Voki! I have created an Avatar to introduce my grade 3 unit to Woodland Indians thematic project. It will be a fun introduction to the unit and provide direction for the students to accomplish the work. Thanks for giving me another tool to use!

  3. I have used Voki before and have taught other teachers how to use it. I have not had my students use it yet, however. I like the idea of Tellagami better for my students since I teach high school students. I like that you can change the background to a real picture of an appropriate setting based on the content being learned. Maybe for my introduction to Excel unit, I could have students place their character on a screen shot of the excel background. From there they would explain various uses for the program. They could then embed these on their classroom blogs. This would be a more memorable way to demonstrate their understanding for the program uses than just typing them and submitting to me. My Business Law students could place themselves in various courtrooms and describe the types of cases that are heard in that court. They could describe the courts jurisdiction and the key players. I think I may try this tomorrow. They could then link all of these on one group padlet so the students could view classmates creations.

  4. I have showed Voki and the Tellagami to my geometry students when we do our logic project first semester. My students create a conditional statement that is similar to the train of thought like “If you Give a Pig a Pancake”. Students enjoy being kid like again to create a cartoon.

  5. I’ve used Voki in my English Basic Skills classes. We have a number of standards about characterization, and Vokis are a perfect project for assessing student understanding of characters. Based on characters’ thoughts, actions, etc., students can create a Voki for that character. The Voki might provide inside information about how s/he felt during a situation, or the Voki might just explain his/her personality as a whole. There are limitless uses.

  6. Voki is an interesting website. I like the idea of using it as a creative presentation tool. I think the students would really enjoy creating an avatar and recording their voices. However, I did notice that the free version of Voki is relatively limiting. You can’t really change the character and I also noticed that the characters you have to choose from in the free version are not very racially diverse.

  7. I’ve used Tellagami before after learning about it last year and have shared it with my colleagues which some did as well. I like the use of a digital person (or blend of things in Voki) to give direction on a digital platform. With a lot of instruction being given online as classes are being flipped, this is a nice bridge between the two. I did like Tellagami’s ability to import pictures as backgrounds. I did this so my avatar was standing in my classroom. What Voki looks great at is giving students the ability to create their own and use to give an oral response back to the teacher. I could see this going very well in a world language class or as a creative presentation for those shy students who don’t like being in front of class. This allows them to do it over and over before submitting to sound the way they want it to be heard.

  8. I would love, love, love to see my teachers try this tool out! I have now registered for an account myself. I can’t wait to play around with the tool and create one myself to share with my staff. Honestly, this is an area that I need to invest more time into exploring. In order to sell this to my teachers, I will need to come with practical, classroom applications for this tool that have worked in another classroom. Anyone have any ideas to share? My toughest sell will be my math and science folks. Social studies and English will jump right on this tool!

    • Math students could have their avatar talk about the steps needed to solve a problem. The teacher could do the same to introduce a new math skill. Science students can create an avatar to tell about the scientific steps at what they observed during an experiment. Science teachers can introduce new concepts using a Voki. The possibilities are endless, good luck!

  9. I’ve used Voki once, and it was a hit. However, I found it took me way too long to create it for what I needed. Having my students create though would be altogether different. I would love to see what they make!

  10. I just made an account with Voki, this is a pretty neat little tool. I can see using it in the lower grades, so the children will pay attention, when the teacher is presenting something new. With the different characters and backgrounds it will be easy for the children to relate to the topic on hand. I think that the children would have fun creating characters that they have to report about. It seems like a fun way to learn!

  11. I just made an account with Voki. I plan to have students use this on one of their next presentations. Their presentations have been rather dry and I think this will increase student interest. I am anxious to see how well it will work to use it in combination with another app such as Keynote or Imovie.

  12. I recently used Voki with my 6th grade students. They created a Voki to talk about Cyber Bullying. They had to include a definition, ways that you can be cyber bullied and how to deal with a cyber bully. They really enjoyed his assignment and came up with some interesting ideas. The assignment took two class periods. The longest part was choosing their character and all the other options for their character. I really like the type feature for Voki because we only have so many headphones with microphones. Even when students have the headphones with microphones they still pick up a lot of background noise. The type feature takes care of that. Students can also get bored listening to the teacher all the time so why not shake it up and have a Voki introduce the next topic!

  13. My students enjoyed using Voki last year for their explorer projects and I’m having this year’s students try it as well. It really helped the introverted students have a bit more confidence to find their voice rather than speaking in front of the class. I had the do it as if they were an explorer. Several of them wanted to play more than use it as a tool, but eventually they used it properly. I can see this being a great tool for many subjects though. I would like to see more characters available.

  14. I used Voki to create myself as a leprechaun to deliver my lesson on domain and range. My eighth grade students loved it. I feel like I had more students paying attention than if I delivered the message myself. Students are so used to this type of interaction with gaming today that the didn’t even find it childish. They want me to do this again. I explained that I could even have them teach a lesson using their own character.

  15. I like the option of a student using a Voki as part of an independent reading presentation or a group presentation. I would not want Vokis to replace live presentations or take away students developing public speaking skills. While vocal delivery is key in creating an efffective Voki, the physical delivery techniques are lacking. As a teacher of many communication courses, I want to model effective speaking skills for my students and give them the opportunity to practice them on a regular basis.

  16. I am so excited about the possibilities of using this in online help guides for the media center! Varying the characters will help keep students engaged, plus, with guidance, library workers will be able to create guides as well.

  17. Voki is just fun. I remember the first time I saw Voki when Tim Wilhelmus demonstrated it at the inaugural E-Revolution Conference. Students in a classroom are used to a physical presence in front of them and using VOKI is just enough of a change-up that might cause a student to look up and say hey what’s that? Voki is easy to set up and use. One way that I can see using this in class is for an initial presentation. Students (as are most people) are fearful of speaking in front of others and this could be a way of taking off that edge. A class could be set up where a student can choose to do one using VOKI and the next one having to be a live presentation. I would also like to offer it to students as a product choice and see what they can do with it.

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