Reading the second day of the Weg 2.0 Telegraph, I was interested to read Lori’s words of caution and my eyes scrolled down to Heather’s notes on avatars and safe cyber practices. So, I thought I would write about some of the approaches that we have taken in our school to ensure our student’s identities are secure.
Our lote teacher (technolote) used www.weeworld.com for some of her classes to create little computer figures of their own choosing students also gave themselves a nickname for online use. However, our school, changed service providers this term and we have found that we are now blocked out of this site as it does have a chat room element. (Personally, I dislike too many sites being blocked as I like to teach the children safety, common sense and a sense of questioning whilst they are in the safety of the classroom.)
My grade 3 and 4 students are working on a joint voicethread with a class in USA (www.voicethread.com) comparing their interests and pursuits. Our site can be viewed at http://voicethread.com/#u7053.b13669 (I think it is designated for public viewing.) This wonderful web 2.0 software allows comments to be shared around images and allows the addition of students as identities. However, rather than have a shadow as their image, my class created little portraits of themselves in MS Paint (sorry we are not a Mac school) and also gave themselves a nickname. These are then viewable when they are talking. Some students used their student id photo and recoloured it beyond recognition whilst others created cute little paint faces. Our partner school just selected photo images to represent each student.
Vokis: Another great disguise is by using vokis. These wonderful animated computer figures allow students to insert voice overs as well. Goto www.voki.com and register. Students need to be 13 years or over. To get around this, I allow a student one at a time to create a voki in my username as a large number of different vokis can be saved for the one user. So, if this needs to be done, goto my voki>create a new voki>create new scene and students proceed to create their own little character by customizing to their own wishes and then adding voice.
Do not forget to activiate the email that will be sent to your address, otherwise you cannot save your voki for future use. Re-enter the site and choose create. You can then choose the face, the background, hair, clothes etc to build your avatar equivalent. Once complete, save and then click on microphone, making sure that you enable access for the voki to use your computer settings. Wait until the recording wheel starts turning and record your voiceover. Replay to ensure the voiceover is all there and that diction is audible and clear. Click save>done>save (and give a title). Your completed voki will appear in the LHS of the screen.
Goto embed in>choose the destination as web page (or whichever purpose you are using)> select small size>200 x 267>get code. Accept agreement and the code will appear. Right click>select all>copy and then paste into your wiki, blog, website or other for your talking voki to activate.
For some interesting cyber safety sites, checkout http://ejourneys.wikispaces.com/esafety