Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Before this course I had never seen an Avatar before and what funny little creatures they are!I had so much fun creating my little person...perhaps too much fun as I could have spent hours fiddling around with all the different options (the accents are the best fun...especially the different languages! I wonder if they are accurate enough to be used to learn a second language?) Anyway these are a awesome, fun tool that can be used to engage students in their learning.
My character Dr Byrne is a chemist and I have given her features that challenge the traditional scientist stereotype. Her words are used as the hook to engage the students and I hope that her appearance shows students that all types of people can be scientists. In a class context students would become co-workers with Dr Byrne and assume the role of a chemist/researcher thus providing them with an authentic task. They would also develop skills that could be transferable to other learning areas.
Avatars would fit perfectly into a web quest. In the web quest I would use Dr Byrne to explain scientific concepts, give interesting facts and also use her to pose questions that provide research topics.
Avatars also suit modern student's learning styles. Students lives today are full of media enrichment (Prensky, 2005). They expect to be constantly engaged and when put up against computer games, i-pods, movie-maker and other digital technologies, older teaching styles simply don't cut it. By developing avatars we can connect with students on their level. We can provide them with something that captures their attention, sucks them into a world of learning. These avatars are quite simple to create however text structure is important as this is what really engages learners. Prensky (2005, p64) agrees that it is not so much the quality of the graphics but rather "what they do and learn.In gamer terms "game play" trumps "eye-candy" any day of the week". Avatars are definitely something that should be included in e-learning activities and are a teaching tool that can be used across all age groups.