Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"Welcome to My Web!", Said the Spider to the Fly

When teachers find new technology, whether it is hardware or software, evaluation is critical. As a teacher, you want to determine efficacy. Is the new technology efficient, easy to use and accessible? One of my favorite tools in my efficacy evaluation toolbox is the KID TEST.

Here is how the KID TEST works. Put the device or software out where students, or any KID, will see it. See how long it takes them to tell you about it. The faster they find it, use it, and share the new technology the higher the KID TEST score.

As they tell you about it, the KID TEST rank can increase or decrease with their discussions of descriptions and uses the students discover. I always appreciate using the 5 point Leikert scale to document my technology evaluations, including the KID TEST.

Recently, I performed the KID TEST when I found two new widgets that a teaching colleague, Jonelle, was using on her Classroom 2.0 profile page. To me, they looked very unique, so I thought students might like to use them.

To find out if students will like them, I must perform the KID TEST. Before I start the KID TEST, I like to tryout the technology myself. I inserted the two widgets, Weather Pixies and VOKI, in my n2teaching blog. Both of these widgets are informative and interactive. Each has an avatar that you select. The avatar in Weather Pixie is dressed appropriately for the weather in your area in a little scene with the temperature, etc. The VOKI avatar's eyes track the movement of the mouse when it is the vicinity of the widget and it will talk when you click on the PLAY button. This is my public education oriented blog, and I often share information with students here.

To practice the KID TEST, I always use my kid as my practice tester. I placed my widgets online, and I waited. After a few days, my kid, Dena, asked me about one of them. I told her, and that was that. Interesting, appealing, but no immediate knowledge transfer. Probably a 3 on a 5 point Leikert Scale for the KID TEST.

A few days later, we were discussing various bits of code that she has used recently, while I posted a blog entry. When I scrolled down to check out my map widget, I passed over the VOKI widget. Dena asked, "What's that?". I replied, "That's the other widget I discovered on my colleague's profile page." I mentioned that the image I used was the closest I could find to fit me, and she said, "I like it."

We discussed the fine points of VOKI. Dena said, "You can type what you want it to say?" and "Can you use your own voice?", so I told her that both options were possible. She says, "Wow, I like it!"

Then Dena proceeds to tell me that she has been looking for a widget like this, but the only one she found was a talking widget service that costs $19.99 per month.

OK, I know an opportunity when I see one, so, while I was traveling to the VOKI website, I asked if she wanted to see the website. A enthusiastic yes, bumped up the VOKI tech evaluation score, so off we went to the website.

Dena was impressed with the great variability and opportunities to use VOKI.

Try it out, I give VOKI a 5 out of 5 on the initial KID TEST, and I hope you will see all the possible uses a teacher could have for this creatively cool widget.

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