Christmas Invitations and Thank-Yous...VOKI style!

by becky berg Christmas is the time for giving, getting, and sometimes forgetting to send an appropriate thank you. Maybe it’s different at your house, but I must admit…my boys don’t jump for joy when it’s time to sit down and write out thank you cards for Christmas gifts. However, I think I’ve come up with a new solution for this dilemma. We are going to combine the fun of a Voki with our thank-yous! Let me explain. During a recent online Faculty Meeting with PBS Teacherline, I learned about an interesting online tool called Voki. This tool is free and can be found at www.voki.com. As online instructors, we were encouraged to utilize this tool to capture our students’ attention when posting otherwise boring announcements. With Voki, you can create personalized speaking characters that can be sent via email, posted to your blog, FaceBook, or any other location that you can embed HTML code. To create a Voki, select a character and customize features such as hair color, eyes, and clothes. Next, add voice to your character by recording your voice message. Within 15 minutes, I created a “Welcome Message” via Voki and posted it to my online class. It was truly that simple. Let me give you a more relevant and exciting example of Voki in the “real world”! Noah, our 6 year old, and I decided to send his teacher a thank-you! After logging into my free Voki account, Noah clicked on “create.” Under the customize tab, he was able to choose from a variety of characters; dogs, cats, smiley faces, pumpkins, male characters, and more. He selected a cute Alaskan Husky, and changed the eye color. On many of the characters, you can select clothes and even add a little “bling.” (We all need a little bling now and then!) Next, he clicked on backgrounds and chose penguins in Antarctica. Then, we connected the microphone, and in his cute little voice, Noah said, “Thanks Mrs. Thelen for all the fun stuff you do with us. I hope Sophie is back in school on Monday. Thanks Mrs. Thelen!” As the dog’s mouth moved, you heard Noah’s 6-year old voice. We published and sent the link to Mrs. Thelen (who by the way, deserves a BIG thank you…as Kindergarten teachers are amazing!) Using Voki to send a thank you message is just one way to use this online service. Another great option for a Voki is to wish others a Merry Christmas or invite them to a holiday gathering. Conner, our oldest, is a December baby and will soon be turning 9. He’s decided to send a Voki invitation out to his friends to invite them to his party. This is definitely a much greener way to send birthday invites, and not to mention…one less trip to the Dollar Store for invitations. If you don’t feel very “tech savvy”, don’t worry. The steps to creating a Voki are clear and very intuitive. (A colleague of mine who despises technology, jumped right into Vokis and did great!) Also keep in mind that if you don’t want to record your own voice, you can click on the “T” for text, and type in the text. You will hear a digitized voice saying your typed message. I prefer the recorded voice, but this is another good option if you don’t have a microphone handy. Seeing is believing! At the Simply Family website, you can view a short Voki Message from the Simply Family girls! This will give you a much better understanding of what this Voki business is all about! Merry Christmas to you, and may your children be begging to get their Christmas thank-yous done…..Voki style! SFM Becky Berg lives in Billings with her husband and two boys.