29 February 2016

App of the Week: Tellagami

What Your Students Can Create With Tellagami

(Sample of what your students can do with Tellagami)

21st Century Learners

Tellagami: A New Way to Show Learning!
The emphasis on incorporating technology can be overwhelming for teachers at times. With the plethora of apps, tools, and technology on the market today, it's difficult to discern the value of any given tool. The technology you want to use may seem great but you really never know how the students will interact with it. This is why I always suggest that teachers try technology out for themselves before they attempt to incorporate it into their lessons. Tellegami is an app that you can master in literally 5 minutes. Even better, Tellagami fits perfectly into the 21st century skills framework. Sure, there are a great deal of apps that make teachers' lives more manageable, but vital aspect of Tellagami is that it will give your students the opportunity to practice their digital literacy.

Tellagami is a free video creation app available for Apple or Android devices. You record yourself and your avatar repeats your words. So what's so different about this app? Let me count the ways...

21st Century Skills Made Easy

Customize your avatar
  1. Customizable Avatar! You can edit your avatar's gender, skin tone, eye color, head size (weird right?), hair color/style, clothes, and shoes.  You can even select the emotion that the avatar will project while speaking your words (choices include: neutral, happy, sad, surprised, angry, scared, and silly).                                                                                                                                
  2. Choose the background. This is perhaps the most important factor in creating videos (or 'Gamis') to show student learning. If your students are reading a chapter from a book, you might ask them to make or find a visual representation of the scenery, take a picture of it, and upload it on Tellagami. This will show up behind your avatar. You also have the option of selecting one of their stock backgrounds.                                                                             
  3. Place your avatar in a historic situation.
  4. Easy sharing. Some video recording apps make it difficult to access your creations by only allowing people to view them from their website (see my review of Adobe Voice). You can
    Easy sharing options
    save your 'Gamis' directly on your device. Even better is the fact that you can upload these videos to YouTube or iMovie. You can even have your students embed a 'Gami' into a Keynote presentation or a webpage/blog. I found that a really creative way to use Gami is to set up fake conversations with your avatar (ie. in each slide of a Keynote you can ask your avatar historical questions and program them to explain a historical issue/topic/theme).

Like any app, Tellagami is not perfect. See below for some things you should know before choosing to incorporate Tellagami into your curriculum.

Things You Should Know First

If you want options, you have to pay
  1. Hidden Costs: Tellegami recently switched many of its avatar customizing options to 'in-app purchases.'  For example, you used to be able to use one of 3-4 stock clothing top/bottom/shoe options but now you only have one option unless you purchase the "Character Customization Package," which costs $2.99 in the app store. Another example is the "Text-to-Speech" option. Before,  you could choose to speak or type the words that you wanted your avatar to say. When typing text, you had the option of using one of 7-8 different stock voices, each with a different dialect, age, or gender. This option will now cost you a $1.99 in-app purchase. Many stock backgrounds are available, for a price, however as you have already seen, it's probably better to customize your own background with pictures from your device. Although it would be nice to customize your character for free, this app is about showing learning, not showing fashion sense.                                                                                                                         
  2. Time constraints: Videos are limited to 30 seconds. This is extremely annoying. No matter how concise you are, a 30 second limit makes it hard to make a good video. There is a workaround to this however. You can string together multiple 'Gamis' on an app like iMovie to create a longer film. This would be especially helpful if students are working in groups.                                  
  3. Not available on the web. Wanting to use an app on the web may seem counterintuitive to the 21st century skills objectives (who wants to go back to computers when you have a device?), however many schools are moving in the direction of 1:1 Chromebooks. Having the ability to access Tellagami on the web would make it easier for students to use this technology if they don't own a smartphone or tablet. The majority of computers have microphones and cameras in them, so why not make Tellagami available on the web?

Educational Technology for the 21st Century

Overall, despite some of its drawbacks, Tellagami is still a fantastic app. A vital aspect of incorporating 21st century skills is giving students multiple options to show technological proficiency. Tellagami is just one of the many apps that I allow my students to use to show learning. The point of giving students their choice of app is that it places the responsibility on their shoulders. They can select one of many apps from a list but the results should be the same regardless of the app. The objective of any activity/project is to have students show their learning and I believe that, in this respect, Tellagami is one of the more useful apps in my students' educational technology repertoire.


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