For Internet safety reasons, I do not want my students using actual photos of themselves online. Instead, I've been compiling a list of websites that I can direct my students to where they can create fun avatars. Click on an image below for the web address where the avatar was created, or click on the hyperlinks below the images. All of the avatars below were created by me after "playing" with the websites, so I have tested each of them personally. All of the avatar creators are completely free, and none of them require any downloading.
In addition to creating avatars for Internet safety when participating in web publishing, discussion boards, and social networking, avatar can also be animated for presentations. Voki allows user to add audio files to avatars. Picture files can also be manipulated with a website such as Blabberize, or a paid program like CrazyTalk.
Note: Some website may contain unsuitable items (for example, the South Park avatar creator allows users to add alcoholic beverages to their avatar). Preview the website that you plan to use in order to make sure that it is appropriate for your students.
Top Row (L-R): South Park Avatar, Simpsons Avatar, Mii Avatar
Middle Row (L-R): Scott Pilgrim Avatar, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Avatar, Anime Avatar
Third Row (L-R): Voki Avatar (talking avatar), Stick Person Avatar, Mad Men Avatar
Bottom Row (L-R): WeeMee Avatar, Doppel Me Avatar, FaceYourManga Avatar
Edmodo is, to put in simplest terms, Facebook for education. Students will find it easy to use because they are already familiar with the format. Post questions and let your students respond. Upload files, administer polls, share links, subscribe your learners to RSS feeds--there are TONS of possibilities! Organize with ease by grouping students by class. Let students respond to each other's posts as a wonderful way to brainstorm ideas and gather feedback. You can also create and maintain a class calendar. Edmodo is completely safe and secure, and students can even access it from their Smart phones.
For more information on Edmodo, visit their FAQ page here.
Gaggle is a free program that offers secure e-mail addresses for students. Other features include chat rooms, discussion boards, blogs and even safe texting (so that teachers and students can text without publicizing their phone numbers). Gaggle will notify the administrator if inappropriate content is sent. Accounts can be created for teachers, students, and even parents. Gaggle also offers digital lockers for storing files, as well as assignment drop boxes.
ePals also offers free, safe e-mail for students and teachers. Additionally, ePals is a community which will facilitate correspondence between teachers to set up classroom pen pals. I have not used this service personally, but I did attend one of their free online webinars in order to learn more about them, and it seemed like a very exciting learning opportunity.
Dr. Jessica Pilgreen, Ed.D.