Monday, April 11, 2016

App Review: Voki - The Educational Tool of The Future

Welcome to the second entry in our "All About Apps" series!

Example of customized Voki.
 From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mV1dBWtRlLk
Creative Commons Attribution license. Reuse Allowed.
Up until about a year ago, I had never heard about Voki. Last spring, the computer course I was enrolled in had a Voki as part of one of the first lessons to be completed for the class. Now you may be asking yourself “what exactly is Voki?” Voki is a website where you can create a talking avatar. From what the website says, it appears to be aimed at educators and students to be used as part of a classroom lesson. Based on the site’s newsletters, it appears that the earliest edition, which is January 2011, talks about the relaunch of the site geared toward education. The website’s creator is Oddcast, a company that has created technology for a variety of clients, including some easily recognizable big name companies: uild A Bear, CBS, Nokia,  Verizon, and Capital One. The company was founded in 1999 by Adi Sideman, who is a former documentary maker and paratrooper with the Israeli army.

The name “Voki” is formed from a combination of “Vox” which is a Latin word meaning voice and “Loki” which according to Norse mythology was a god. Loki, known as a trickster, had the ability to change shapes, whether it be a human or an animal.

How does it work?
Once you get to the website, it is very easy to register and start creating your very own Voki. On the home page, there is two buttons at the top, one of them says “Login” and the other says "Register." Once you click on that one it asks you a few simple questions, including your email address so that you can be sent an activation link. After you log in, I noticed that it loads pretty quickly and takes you to the screen where you can customize your avatar. You pick the body, the hair, the lip color, clothing and any accessories.

When it comes to picking and customizing your character, it seems to be pretty simple, something even a young child could do although the minimum age to register is 13. To start, you click on the button that looks like a body that gives you options to be human or animal, male or female. As far as the limit to the customization options, it depends on which version you have. It also depends on which character you choose. For instance, I chose a koala bear and was not given an option to add or change the hair. For the clothing, I was limited to three options: a backpack, a baby koala that sits on the bigger koala’s back, or a bag that appears to have arrows in it . For the accessories, the website calls it “Bling” and for the koala, has an option of 10 various colored sunglasses or a bamboo stick. The color of the animal’s eyes, skin and mouth is also customizable.

Do you have to pay for it?
No, you don’t have to pay for it but the amount of features you get is associated with whatever pricing package you choose. For instance, the free version has a limit of 200 different characters to pick from. If you choose to give your character a voice, the length of the audio is maxed out at 60 seconds. The price for the other packages ranges from $29.95 per year to $49.95 per year.

What are the pros and cons?
The biggest pro to the website is that it seems easy to register and get started.  One of the features when picking a character is that you can also pick a background for it. As someone who is a visual learner, it seems like something that would work well in the classroom. The one down side to it is that when I first opened up the page to create a character, it didn’t work well with Internet Explorer. As the page has simple instructions on the right hand side, I couldn’t get them to go away to be able to access the various buttons. Once I logged out and re-logged in using Google Chrome, it seemed to work much better.

Is there anything else out there like it?
As Voki is aimed strictly at personal, non-commercial use, it has a sister-site called SitePal that can be used for businesses.  When I did a Google search for free talking avatar, I found a few other different sites that essentially do the same thing. Some of the other sites out there are Living Actor, CrazyTalk, and My Talking Avatar.

Is it really worth my time?
Although it was fun, it isn’t something that I could spend hours on end playing with. Everything about the site is very basic, including the images themselves. I think it might be more fun if I were a teacher trying to incorporate it into a lesson.

Where can I find Voki?
To create your own voki, go to www.voki.com.

About the author: Jennifer Leatherwood is a senior general studies major at Tarleton State University. She can be contacted at Jennifer.leatherwood@go.tarleton.edu.

“Voki”. Voki. 2016.
“Oddcast”. Oddcast. 2016.
“Oddcast”. Wikipedia. 25 January 2015.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...