Friday, November 9, 2012

Engaging Today's Students with Voki

Student engagement can be an elusive entity for today's educators.  There are many possible causes for learner apathy which range from boredom to socio-economic issues to a lack of ability.  The goal for educators is to find resources that inspire students to actively participate in their learning.  One such resource is Voki - a speaking avatar web tool.  Even the most reluctant learners embrace Voki as it gives them the opportunity to express themselves without the need of standing in front of their peers - a very terrifying experience for some.  From an educational standpoint, Voki provides all students with an equal opportunity to earn the best grade possible!

But who is really best suited to explain the educational benefits of Voki?  The students, of course!  Below are some student testimonials that will further highlight the educational benefits of Voki.

"I liked it because it was an unique and fun way to introduce yourself to your class and your website.  You could also customize your Voki differently than what you look like ... You can have fun!" - Sydney

"It is good for Grade 8 introductions.  Students can find things out about their classmates without the stress of being in front of the class." - Noah

"I think it's a good tool because you can use it to present a project or a speech with it." - Chase

"It's fun to use and it could be helpful in other ways such as sending it to a family member for their birthday, etc." - Keisha

"I like Voki because you get to know more about your classmates.  It's fun, new and a good way to start the year." - Lizzy

"I liked it because we can express our creativity and get to know others." - Shaelyn

"It is good for auditory learners." - Heidi

"If you weren't comfortable with speaking in front of the class, you could use Voki to speak instead." - Sarah

As you can see, Voki is a fun and engaging web tool that motivates students to creatively share their knowledge.  Click here for a detailed explanation on how to get started.  

If you haven't yet, I strongly encourage you to give it a try!

Lynda Hall originally wrote this post for Voki for Education November 2012.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Collaboratively Create Online Videos with WeVideo

WeVideo is a collaborative, online video creation and editing tool that I really encourage educators to try as the educational possibilities and subsequent benefits are endless.  Currently, my students are Skyping with a class from Layton, Utah.  Throughout this process, students have been paired with a partner to create a video in response to a question(s) asked of them about some aspect of Canada.  Students have not only worked together at school on their video project but they have also worked on it from home.  Each time a student accesses their WeVideo project - no matter where they are - they are ready to start from the last video edit.  So far, the project is progressing very well.  My ultimate goal, however, is to expand this collaborative piece by pairing one of my students with a Layton student.  Needless to say, the ability to collaborate with a much larger global learning community will be exciting!  
WeVideo has many excellent features but it should be no surprise that my absolute favorite is the ability to extend unlimited invitations to others to collaborate together to create a video.  Once invited, collaborators can co-create or make their own video using the clips shared by others.  As stated above, the educational possibilities are endless with this feature in that students from around the world can work together to create a video masterpiece on any topic.       

Additional Features:

1. Full-feature video editor: Users can drag & drop images, video and sound clips, special effects and graphics into the timeline-based editing interface.  Once entered into the timeline, users can get creative with a wide range of editing options.  A real-time preview feature also allows users to view their edits immediately.

2. Music & Effects: Create an absolutely unique video with WeVideo's animation, transition, special effects and royalty-free music features!  WeVideo also offers color correction and filters that will definitely add life to your raw footage.

3. All File Formats are Supported: WeVideo supports all file formats from common camera devices - smartphone, digital camera, or video camera.

4. Sharing Options: Users can export their video creations directly to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and Twitter.  Paid WeVideo accounts allow for video download to your computer.  Exported videos can be either 360p, 480p, 720p or 1080p full HD.

5. WeVideo Apps: In recent months, WeVideo has released two apps - an Android app and a Google Drive app.  The Android app allows users to capture images and videos from their mobile device and instantly add them to their WeVideo project.  The Android app will also trim unwanted portions of a video clip prior to its inclusion to a project.

The Google Drive app not only saves video projects to the cloud for easy access across multiple devices but it also allows users to record from their webcam.  The resulting video file can be split or trimmed for further editing enhancements later on. Improved audio functions are also available with the Google Drive app.  Users are able to fade-in audio, fade-out audio, adjust audio volume so as to create a background or feature sound.    

How To Get Started:

Below are just some of the video tutorials created by WeVideo to get you started creating your first video.  Just click on any of the links below to view.

Sample Classroom Activities:

1.  As mentioned earlier, my students are using WeVideo to teach our Skype partners about Canada.  Essentially, students can teach others about where they live - locally or nationally - by creating a WeVideo.

2.  Have your students create a video book trailer for a recent novel your students have read.

3.  Students can create a video biography of a famous historical figure.  

4.  To introduce themselves to their classmates at the beginning of a course, students can create a video autobiography.

5.  Teachers can use WeVideo to create a flipped classroom instructional video for a particular lesson.

WeVideo is a very good visual web tool.  My students absolutely love using it and I am sure yours will too!  Click here to get started.

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.

photo credit: <a href="">Houston Museum of Natural Science</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>