Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2014
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Tellagami

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Custom animations are fun, but are too short and lack polish

Common Sense says
Teachers say (17 Reviews)
$avg_user_learning_rating
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Grades
5-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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1 video | 4 images

Pros: Flexible options for recording audio or using text-to-speech are great for students who might struggle with oral presentations.

Cons: Videos are too short and features too few to add serious value to classroom presentations. Most backgrounds are available only as in-app purchases, and few seem especially appealing.

Bottom Line: While it’s fun to create a character and record audio, uneven features make for a disappointing user experience.

You could encourage kids to use Tellagami to create video postcards about faraway places. Have them use their devices to download images from faraway places and locate their characters in exotic locales. You might also ask kids to make gamis that represent a character from a book they've read and use that character to explain the book's plot or the character's story. Kids could use Tellagami to show how changing one visual element can change the meaning of text. Students might use the emotion feature to show how the emotional state of a character can change the meaning of a story. They could also alter the background image to add extra irony or humor to a character’s words.

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Tellagami (rhymes with “origami”) is a mobile app for creating a custom animated video called a "gami." Users enter text or record audio and then choose from a range of outfits, skin tones, and hairstyles to create a custom character to deliver the recording. Users then place their character against a background selected from the free built-in options, from the device's photo library, or from among several background "packs" available for purchase within the app.

Tellagami's main purpose is to allow users to share their gamis, but frequent error messages and crashes within the in-app sharing features make the user experience uneven. Instead, it's easier to store gamis in the device's photo library and then use the device's own sharing features. After making a few gamis, it becomes clear that there's not much variety in the animation: The character’s hand gestures don't seem to vary depending on the audio, and the animation doesn't add much meaning. It also would be nice if there were more options for characters, more free background options, and the possibility to have more than one character on-screen.

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The biggest learning potential for Tellagami might be for students who struggle with social skills: This medium has good potential for kids who might be uncomfortable presenting in person or on film but who are more comfortable recording audio or entering text. Beyond that support, though, it's unlikely that Tellagami would inspire deep learning. It's definitely fun and engaging to design a custom character and place him or her in an exotic location, but that's truly all that this app does. Additionally, with videos limited to 30 seconds, this isn't a great tool for students to use to make lengthy, in-depth presentations. And in spite of the range of skin tones and hair colors available, the characters all look alike: They all seem to be slim twenty-somethings with Caucasian-looking features. Most background "packs" are paid content available only via in-app purchase, making it more likely that kids will need to import their own custom images from their device's camera. At that point, it might make more sense to use the device's camera to record a longer, more expressive video.

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Overall Rating
2

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

Options for choosing emotions and backgrounds make for amusing additions to user-recorded audio, and it’s entertaining to locate characters in unexpected settings.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
2

While it’s fun to create custom characters and select interesting backgrounds, the app doesn’t add much to make for especially engaging presentations or thoughtful user-generated content.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

User support within the app is limited. The developer website’s FAQ page mostly suggests that bugs are the result of user errors and that users should just relaunch the app.


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Nancy P. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Scheck Hillel Community Day School
North Miami Beach, FL
4
Interactive tool for students to present without standing up in the room

I like this tool a lot because it is easy to use and kids enjoy using it to create presentations. A great part is being able to add your own background. This makes it personalized for social studies or book reports. I wish the voice options were all free to give more availability.

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