In Suzanne de Castell article Avatar Aesthetic and Self-Representation in Digital Games the author states that teachers should “engage in self-building and world building more online than off, so it’s time for some accountable design of a very different sort” (de Castell, 220). I believe that as educators it is important for our students to be engaged in meaningful activities within education.
Within my own classroom, I have used Avatars with my students as a digital story telling tool to assist in their learning. My students created their own Avatars through an App called Tellagami. This program gave my students the option to customize their avatar which was their own personal image that they would use. It became a realistic representation of themselves in a virtual world. I found that this helped to support their learning, because they were actively engaged in the lesson through a medium that they loved. The students were able to present their projects on various countries through the use of their Avatars. The fact that they were participating in an authentic learning task using this technology was incredible to see. They were able to apply what they learned, analyze and incorporate it in a way that would enhance their learning and help even the shy students present their work in meaningful ways.
Real and “virtual,” in sum, are not alternative realities but different dimensions of the same one. (de Castell, 214 ) This argument that the virtual transforms the real really had me thinking. I truly believe that giving my students the opportunity to tap into the virtual world and transform a virtual character into themselves, helped them to see things in a different light. It gave some of them the confidence to present through a character and use expression in their voices. It allowed them to be heard and gave them a voice in the classroom. This helped the learning process because they were engaged and they were able to use “gaming “ to create something imaginary which became real to them because it spoke and gave them an active experience rather than a passive one.
As an educator , I am now becoming more and more aware of the aspects of design when it comes to Virtual reality games. I am seeing the benefits that it has on students if used in a way that they are able to build on skills such as language literacy and other subjects that will be meaningful to our students.
de Castell, S. Mirror Images: Avatar Aesthetics & Self-Representation in Digital Games. DIY Citizenship. Pp 213-221.