Whew! It feels good to be back! I know it hasn't been that long, but so much has been happening with school back in session, that I'm feeling very out of touch with my blogging! So...where to begin?
I took a workshop this summer at my local BOCES (Boards of Cooperational Education Services) called "To the Cloud". It was a great opportunity to spend some time exploring (read: playing with) web 2.0 tools for education. Two of the tools we looked at were Voki, which I had previously used with students, and Blabberize, which I had not.
The advantage to both tools for the FL classroom, is that they allow students to record their voices and have an avatar (Voki) or image (Blabberize) speak it. The beauty of the workshop I took (kudos to Rob Leo who facilitated) was the portion where participants blogged about each tool -- ideas, frustrations, etc. It was a great opportunity for professionals to learn from one another. To summarize the reactions to these tools, most of us preferred one over the other, for various reasons. My preference, at the time, was Voki, because I like the idea of students creating their own avatar. Blabberize, I felt, would be more useful in a social studies or English class where students could express the point of view of an actual historical or literary figure. My latest FAIL (First Attempt In Learning) with my planned use of Voki changed my mind.
Laptop carts. They're what you use when you can't secure lab time. Know that things will not go smoothly. Always have a Plan B. ( Is there an echo in here?)
Problem 1: All of the recording volume settings were set to zero, and had to be manually reset (by me) before students could record.
Problem 2: Each time a student logs off, the volume settings default back to zero. See problem 1.
Problem 3: Voki only worked on about half of the laptops. Thank you again, Rob Leo, because if Blabberie hadn't been on my mind so recently , and if I hadn't had the time to explore (play with) it, I never would have been able to pull it off.
So...all students whose laptops did not support Voki, used Blabberize. Since the objective of the lesson was for students to record an introduction (in French) for their electronic portfolios, the tool was irrelevant. To put it another way, if it had been a written assessment and some students used pen, while others used pencil, the tool would not affect the objective.
My one criticism/caveat of using Blabberize -- if a student does not complete the Blabber (including recording) before saving, Blabberize does not allow a saved project to be edited, where Voki does.
So in the future...I think I will offer students the choice -- Blabberize or Voki. They seemed to enjoy them both, and met the lesson objective equally well.
What do you think?