What if Lewis and Clark had cell phones? What would JFK have posted on Facebook? What would Abe Lincoln have Tweeted? While it’s fun to think about what how modern technology would have affected the past, it’s also a creative way for students to demonstrate an understanding of historical figures, politicians, authors, or even plants and animals. Students love social media, and virtual impersonation tools provide an opportunity to bring some fun into assignments. All of the tools below are free, and can be used without creating an account.
iFakeText let’s you make a fake iPhone text in 3 steps (four if you want to select a specific service provider); just type a name and a message, click “Create Your Screenshot.” They have a sister site, iFakeSiri, that I first wrote about a year ago. It’s equally easy and fun to use.
If you’re looking for more features, FakePhoneText allows users to set the time, choose your connection (3G, Wifi, etc.), your battery level, and even change the default words on the screen if you use your phone in a language other than English. For those looking to be even more modern ios7text.com and ios8text.com mimic the looks of the latest operating systems. If you want something even simpler with less features, check out Fake iPhone Text. Users just type the text conversation in a text box and click “create.” It really hasn’t changed since I wrote about it a few years ago.
I’ve found a number of Fake Facebook generators, but the most reliable and easiest to use is actually a “FakeBook” Google Slides template. The template is a page for John F. Kennedy, but users can replace all pictures and text. I’ve had students make pages for Africanized Honey Bees, Kudzu and Wisteria Vines, and a lot of other organisms that are hard to imagine having “friends” and conversations.
Even though the template is based on the old Facebook format, and students will say that Facebook is for old people, they still have fun making these pages. Simitator offers a more condensed options if you would rather just create a Fake Facebook Status or a Fake Facebook Chat.
Twitter is the favorite impersonation format of my students at this point. Yes you are limited to 140 characters per entry, and that’s what makes this assignment so challenging. Creating hashtags can be a lot of fun too. Simitator makes my favorite Fake Tweet Generator, they also have a fake Twitter Message Generator. You may also want to check out their Yahoo Answers Question Generator.
If you’re looking for examples or a few laughs check out Historical Tweets (warning: not all tweets on this site are appropriate for the classroom).
The latest tool in my virtual impersonation toolbox follows current trends for students in social media; Snapsr is a Fake Snapchat Generator. Just upload and image, type a caption, select the number of countdown seconds, and click “Snap It.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you use Virtual Impersonation in the classroom? Have any lesson ideas for using these tools? Please share your ideas in the comments below.
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, microsiervos.