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Multimedia Critique Paper #3

Clayton S. Cook

Voki (www.voki.com)
Voki is a multimedia tool that allows users to pair voices to avatars that you can create.
The voices can be added to the avatars in a few ways, however, the easiest option is to simply
type what you want the Voki to say. The other options are to use your own voice to give
instructions, lessons, etc. with a microphone or to call a phone number and speak what you want
your Voki to say. While this does not seem all that unusual, what makes Voki unique is that you
can pair a voice to a famous figure from history if you choose, such as Abraham Lincoln. This
allows students the opportunity to learn about history, or get their instructions or assignments
from Honest Abe, among others. This adds an element of intrigue and excitement to the normal,
bland way in which instructions can be delivered to students. The options afforded by this tool
are pretty impressive. You can give an entire lesson solely using an avatar of your choosing.
The avatar can be overlaid a flipchart or other learning medium and take the place of the teacher.
The students love to learn from Voki and it easily holds their attentions and keeps them engaged.
Voki has several choices for membership, including a free membership. However, Voki
does offer trial periods for its three premium memberships: Voki Classroom, Voki Presenter, and
Voki Teach. Voki Classroom is a management tool that allows students to complete homework
assignments and such with Voki. This is a truly unique option. By allowing parents and students
to access the power of Voki at home, you are taking the excitement of the classroom and
integrating it into the home-life of the students. This takes the learning from the classroom and
helps to make it more real for the students. It also lets them know that learning can be fun
away from the school/classroom setting. The second choice of Voki platform is Voki Presenter.
Voki Presenter is presentation tool that allows users to integrate Voki into their lessons in an
effort to increase engagement. This, at first glance, may seem bland but try to imagine learning

about the continental congress from someone who was actually there for the events. This
simple, yet extremely effective optoin, transports learners to a different time and place without
them ever having to leave their seats. Think field trip in the classroom. Voki Teach is a
common-core aligned, ready to use curriculum created by teachers. Since classroom teachers,
who are boots-on-the ground, created this curriculum, you can be sure that it is effective and
interactive. The curriculum is easy to follow, for the most part, and can be adapted to almost any
grade level. Each of these memberships are powerful is different ways. However, for the
purposes of this study I will focus my attention on the free Voki membership option.
The free membership is easy enough to start, requiring only your name and a valid email
address. You can use either your personal email address or you school email. Voki does not
SPAM users at all. However, the set up of the free account is the easiest part of the avatar
creation process. For all the attractions that Voki brings to the table the things you actually have
access to on the free membership are extremely limited. For example, you cannot access the
avatars of historical figures, etc. without having a paid account. This extremely limits the appeal
of the tool. However, with the free account, the functioning is the same as with a paid account.
Along with the limited access to avatars in the free account option, there are other things that
make the initial creating of an avatar more confusing. Voki is extremely difficult to navigate and
the instruction can be unclear and muddled (Fig. 1). The interface is jumbled and words are
crammed into tiny spaces, making navigation difficult, even for experienced computer users.
You have to be overly careful about what you click because you can easily click on the wrong
button or word and find yourself in a completely different window or tab.
If the limited amount of free avatars and the difficult navigation do not dissuade you, then
the location of buttons and windows will. When creating an avatar using the free membership,

the customization window will open on right side of the avatar you are creating, covering a
significant portion of the avatar window. This makes creating the avatar difficult because you
cannot completely see what changes are happening. From my experiences, changing the
resolution of the screen does nothing to change this. The customization ribbon stays in the same
place, blocking the avatar you are trying to create. Voki is apparently ad-supported because there
are ads on both sides of the screen and, occasionally, one will pop up in the middle of your
creation and you cannot get it to minimize or close. This is overwhelmingly frustrating!
Windows and ads will open with no warning, causing you to, in essence, lose your work and
force you to start over. This is by far the most frustrating part of the avatar creation process.

Figure 1: Shows the jumbled interface of Voki during the avatar creation process

Overall, the overarching idea behind Voki is a powerful one, but the cons far outweigh
the pros. The time and headaches that go into creating the Voki make this potentially powerful
engagement tool practically useless. The interface and limitations placed on the free account
completely forfeit any positives this tool may offer.