A professor at Brown University encountered a dilemma. She required her students to create video posts as part of their participation in her class. Some of her newly-enrolled students in her class were not native English speakers, and while her students expressed confidence in their ability to communicate in written English, they were fearful that their heavily accented speech would make it difficult for the audience to comprehend them.
Searching for a solution, the professor discovered Voki. Voki is a program that allows users to create customized avatars and animate them with text-to-speech or recorded audio. The free version of Voki allows up to 60 seconds of audio.
The professor is now using Voki in her classroom to accommodate her class participants who are not English speakers. Students who are Chinese language natives can type text into Voki and share it as their video discussion, whereas English language learners can use the built-in audio/video recorder. Using this UDL approach, all students can enjoy the aspects of the video discussion without worrying that their post will be misunderstood or missed due to a language barrier caused by accent or vocabulary.
Another use of Voki might be to preserve a student’s confidentiality. The student can create an avatar that speaks but doesn’t show his true likeness; that student can choose to use either the text-to-speech or recorded audio option.Here’s a Voki avatar I created in under five minutes, using text-to-voice:
Here’s a Voki avatar I created in under five minutes, using my own recorded voice:
Here’s a Voki avatar I created in under five minutes, using text-to-voice: Here’s a Voki avatar I created in under five minutes, using my own recorded voice: Can you think of other ways to use Voki avatars in your own courses? Please share your ideas with other instructors here.
This post was written by Stefanie Sanders (Adjunct Professor and Course Designer).