We bring you a wonderful interview with Joseph Romano this month! So, without further ado, take it away, Joseph!
1. Tell us a little about yourself:
At the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Joseph Romano (OCT, MEd, BEd, BFA) works as an ICT Lead Teacher & Position of Responsibility (POR) in the development and implementation of technology-driven teaching and learning. He support teachers and students in their building of capacity related to 21st Century skills, specifically focusing on nurturing the development of Communication, Collaboration, Creation and Critical Thinking (4 Cs).
As the Founder, Learning Strategist and Researcher at Classpace (www.classpace.ca), Joseph is currently continuing his research on Virtual World Pedagogy (#VWP). Working as a consultant and learning strategist, he is focusing on the transition from conventional spaces and practices of teaching and learning towards contemporary, digitally enriched collaborative experiences.
Joseph also works as an EdTech Advisor at MaRS, in Toronto’s Discovery District, in support of education-related startup companies and innovators. He supports these stakeholders by consulting on relevant educational practices and how their product/service may fit within that framework. Further, Joseph offers pedagogically-focused advice, driven by his #VWP Research, related to product/service impact on teaching and learning.
Joseph has been using Voki for 6 years, but more intensely this past school year.
2. What are your goals using Voki?
In using Voki, my goals are to differentiate instruction by offering Students yet another mode in which they can express their learning and share their knowledge. We work in an environment that celebrates inquiry, Project Based Learning (PBL) and the 4Cs (Communication, Collaboration, Creation, & Critical Thinking) – through this, Students are invited to collaborate with one another in creation of a communication artifact (their Voki) that stands as an illustration of their learning.
3. How do you use Voki?
Voki is used in my Learning Space as a piece that integrates with our assignments, rather than just an extension. Voki has become a way we share what we know, rather than an aside or addition to what is already happening in our Teaching and Learning.
Our Students typically work in pairs and/or small groups to develop their Vokis. They collaborate first in person, then blend their learning in the digital environment by crafting and drafting writing in a Google Doc that is shared with me. We work together through the writing process, their apply our text to the Voki. Students focus on the meaning their Voki is meant to evoke and the audience whom will view the piece after. They craft their Voki’s appearance on this, as well as their text.
In sharing our pieces through our classes (within our internal class ICT Websites), in our Media Lab, as well as on Twitter and other online spaces, we interact with stakeholders who otherwise would not be a part of our Learning Space – a great benefit Voki offers in our exploration of Communication.
4. What are your 3 favorite things about Voki?
In thinking about my 3 favorite things about Voki, I immediately think of:
- Ease of Use: Within minutes, Student can understand the use and basic features of Voki – they are able to navigate the online environment with ease, making creating their Voki not only simple, but also Fun!
- Visual Impact & Engagement: the avatars are visually appealing and interactive, they immediately draw a viewer in – Students are able to customize the “look” and “sound” of their Voki, truly crafting it for the purpose in which it will used within
- Variety of Sharing Options: as with many classes who employ a 21C framework, we are constantly sharing and engaging with Stakeholders outside of our classroom walls – with this, we appreciate the ability to not only Tweet out and email links, but to also be able to embed our work in any of the Web Spaces we manage!
5. What would you add to the Voki product?
In thinking about what I would add Voki, I immediately think of:
- Search Feature – “My Voki”: developing a “Search Feature” that allows one to easily find a Voki saved in their “My Voki” list, by name, date, length and so on
- iOS App – it would be interesting to see how integrating Voki within a mobile platform would allow this learning to happen outside of the conventional “Computer Lab”, within real-world context(s)
6. Do you have any Voki tricks up your sleeve?
We have used Vine to record our Vokis in the context of discussion, to showcase a variety of Voki works (from a variety of Students). This has worked to show quick features and elements from a variety of Learners!
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Until next time,
The Voki Team