Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Making Avatars part of Mobile Learning

I know that many educators who are involved with the gaming world are interested in Avatars. I have seen some creative examples of how Avatars can become learning tools. Such as the Voices of the World project. While I fully admit to being a novice at Avatars (I just learned the proper pronunciation recently), I have just discovered that many web resources which allow you to create Avatars couple nicely with cell phones. One in particular called Voki, allows users to create an avatar for free, where they can upload their own backgrounds, record their own voice with a cell phone, and even send their avatar to their cell phone (or anyone else's). One of the benefits is that Voki will call you to record (therefore students without cell phones could use a land line). While it does cost a small fee to send an avatar to a cell phone, we can hope that in the future these sites will have some free options (hint, hint, hint to Voki and others...)!

I see potential learning applications with this resource. For example, students in a social studies class could create avatars of historical figures. They could create the Voki to look like the historical icon, including an appropriate background that reflects the time period. Second, using their cell phones they could record a message about who the figure is, and why they are significant in history. Finally, students could share them on each other's cell phones---thus becoming an instant review! The avatars could also be saved to a blog, wiki, or webpage. Students could update their Voki avatar through the unit as they learn more about their historical figure. This same activity could be done with science figures, biological species such as insects or flora, or even mathematical equations! I would love to hear about other Avatar sites that allow access to cell phones or teachers who are using Avatars for learning!

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