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Could be cool, but… December 11, 2008

Posted by Wendy Wolfe in Friday Five, Webbased tools.
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Usually I try to write about tools that would work in the classroom, and I thought I was going to get to do that again with this new-to-me tool, “xtranormal.” It is a great little flash-based movie maker that allows you to select your background, sound effects, and characters then type in a script and create a movie (thanks Farah for hearing about it and sharing the information). I was getting really excited about the potential and then I found “American female voice 2” and in the demo of the voice, well, I was disappointed in the vocabulary they selected for her to say. I think it is enough that I would use this with adults but not students. Bummer, this looked like fun. So this Friday Five is more directed toward adults, I think. I also think I will drop the xtranormal folks a note about my disappointment. Also, this is in serious beta, who knows how much will be available at no cost once they come out of beta. But it is a fun tool. Click here to see my little demo (please don’t take it as a political statement, I thought the guy had an elephant button when I was making it, I could see hers was a donkey and I thought they could have a disagreement – apparently another bummer is that the program has a political bias, there are no conservatives to offset the liberals – difficult for a Social Studies teacher!) and, of course, happy Friday!

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1. Jeremy Kerr - December 12, 2008

Hello Wendy.

My name is Jeremy Kerr. I am a producer for http://www.xtranormal.com, and just came across your blog post.

You are not the first person to have raised this concern, and rest assured, the issue has already been resolved.

I have copied an email response I sent out to another educator who made the same complaint.

“Thank you for contacting Xtranormal to raise your concerns.

We take these matters very seriously, and you are 100% correct that the terminology used for that voice sample is not appropriate.

We have already updated the voice sample on our internal servers. The change will be visible when we make the next major update to the site, so it may be a week or two before you see the modification on the public site.

In regards to your use of http://www.xtranormal.com in an educational environment, we are glad to hear your students love our product. While we are very excited with the number of educators who are incorporating our technology into their curriculum, we currently do not recommend our site for elementary schools (or earlier).

The reason for this is that our Terms of Service require that users be 13 years or older to access the site. As such, our site, runs under a PG13 (or equivalent depending on your country/region) rating.

At this point in time, while we make every effort to moderate content that is hateful or abusive, we do allow user-generated content that adheres to the PG13 rating system.

That said, we acknowledge that our own use of terminology should fall under stricter guidelines, and we have modified the voice sample following your concerns.

We are currently working on custom portals and features for educational environments where educators would have full control over moderation for their class or schools. We would welcome your input in terms of what other kinds of features and workflows you would like to see added to our site to make it more suitable for your teaching environment.

Once again, we thank you for raising this concern to Xtranormal, and we hope that we have offered an adequate solution.

Please stay tuned, as we may have announcements about educational versions and licensing options in the future.

Regards,

Xtranormal

If you can type, you can make movies.


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