According to their website, "Voki is a free service that allows you to create personalized speaking avatars and use them on your blog, profile, and in email messages." This is a great option for student-created videos without compromising students' privacy. It can also be handy way to capture your students' attention while simultaneously introducing the day's agenda or directions for an activity. Voki could also be used to create a virtual substitute teacher for days when you know you will be absent. Simply embed your Voki on the classroom website and the sub can play the audio file to the class. Below is a sample Voki I created in about five minutes.
Voki for Education FAQ http://www.voki.com/voki_faq.php#4
Voki Lesson Plans http://www.voki.com/lesson_plans.php
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.