Avatars: Virtual Expression

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As educators search for effective uses of technology in the classroom, it is apparent that on many instances the answers are found within the students. As a one to one computing teacher, it is clear that avatars are popular among young people. An avatar is defined as a online manifestation of the student. This virtual representation can help students overcome challenges while providing instruction that appeals to a wide variety of learning styles.
Here are some simple ways to use avatars in your classroom:
  •  Use an avatar to deliver information to your students, define terms, give directions, or give praise.  Yes, allow the avatar to speak for you. It can sometimes be enjoyable for both you and your students to mix up the lecture.  www.voki.com is a free site where you can bring your avatar to life using text input or voice record.
  • Formative Assessment/varied assessment- Students can use an avatar to demonstrate understanding. 
  •  As a writing tool- Students can record what they want to write, and play it back as they transfer words onto the paper. This especially helps the struggling writer.
  •  Bring historical figures to life-Students can create a short narrative on notable people from history and present to the class. www.doppelme.com is a free site where students can personalize an avatar.
  •  Fluency- Allow students to record their read aloud and play it back to practice pronunciation and fluency.
  •  Beginning of the year icebreaker-Students can introduce themselves through their avatar. This may help alleviate the beginning of year nerves.
While Avatars are not meant to replace traditional classroom instruction, they can certainly help students build self confidence and overcome challenges while fostering a multimedia environment.
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