Voki Characters Make Writing Fun

— Click the play button to hear me speak.—

The text to speech capabilities of Voki characters make them great motivators for student writing. Students enjoy having Voki characters read out their written assignments, stories and other pieces of writing on places like the Ultranet, websites and blogs. Here’s a video from 2011 of one of my year 4 students at Winters Flat Primary School in Castlemaine. He talks about his writing process and use of Google Docs, Voki Characters and Global2 for blogging.

The free version of Voki.com lets you create colorful characters who can replay your voice recordings or convert text to speech in a variety accents. These characters are easy to place on blogs and websites, and they each have their own unique URL. It’s possible to save the characters you create as HTML code in a text editor like Notepad or Word, but it’s easier and more convenient to save them directly on Voki.com using a free account. A 13+ age restriction makes this unsuitable for primary schools, though younger students can still use the free site legally provided they don’t create accounts and login. Voki Classroom ($29.95 per year) lets teachers add primary age classes and students who can then save their characters for future use. Classroom Voki also provides a significantly larger range of characters and lets teachers access additional resources and create lesson plans which can be shared with others. Regardless of which version you use you can still access sample lesson plans such as that shown on the screen below which came from a search for writing lessons for year 2.

I didn’t read the terms of service agreement when I first signed up for Voki, but having read it for the purposes of making this blog post, it seems that Oddcast, Voki’s owners, protect themselves no more or less than most free and paid-for service providers on the web. The use of Voki characters must be non-commercial, which excludes for profit schools, and the terms of service include the condition that “any material” submitted to Voki.com “shall become the sole property of Oddcast to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law.” The terms also state that “Oddcast reserves the right to limit or revoke your access to this Web Site, or any area thereunder, in its sole discretion, at any time…“ They also reserve the right to change the terms of service any time. Given the nature and pricing of the product, those conditions sound like reasonable commercial protections to me. The terms imply that a separate commercial understandings with Oddcast for uses otherwise prohibited by the terms of use are negotiable.

2 thoughts on “Voki Characters Make Writing Fun

  1. Great investigation/review of Voki. The biggest concern (after privacy issues) with site such as these is what they are allowed to do with the creative content (eg. original written or visual work) once its been posted. Their terms that you quoted sound murky, don’t they.

    All the best,
    Catherine

  2. Thanks Catherine. Yes, the terms are sufficiently ‘murky’ that I wouldn’t use Voki characters for a major creative effort, but, for the purpose reading out student blog posts, I think commercial self-interest is more than enough to keep OddCast well behaved. I don’t think the terms are unreasonable, especially given that OddCast have a separate service at sitepal.com that permits commercial use and includes the words, “You own all of the content and information of any kind that you post, upload, export, email or otherwise transmit via the Product (the “Content”).”

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