Educational technology is defined as “a variety of technology-based programs or applications that help deliver learning materials and support learning in K-12 classrooms to improve academic learning goals” (Cheung, 2013, p. 20). The most recent educational technology that has made its way into classrooms and educational discussions around the world are web-based learning tools (WBLTs). Some of the more popular WBLTs that are being used are blogs, discussion boards, wikis, Google applications, Twitter, and various audio and video technologies, which all allow collaboration inside and outside the classroom (Revere & Kovach, 2011). Another WBLT that is popular in the higher education world and making its way into elementary and secondary education is virtual environments and avatars.
Anderson, Page & Wendorf (2013) write, “avatars are computer-generated characters that can be made to represent human or animal forms or even be made to reperesent aliens or cartoon-type characters. Students can select a character to represent their gender, ethnicity, or age, and customize the character through dress and accessories” (p. 106). The use of avatars has proven to be beneficial for students’ learning, especially when related to student attitudes and learning performance (Kay, 2012). Through the use of programs such as Voki, PowToon, and Muvizu, the use of avatars in classrooms also promites and enhances communication, literacy, and authentic learning (Falloon, 2010). This project will discuss the positive implications that avatar use has on the Family and Consumer Sciences classroom.
Anderson, J., Page, A., & Wendorf, D. (2013). Avatar-assisted case studies. Nurse Educator, 38(3), 106-109.
Falloon, G. (2010). Using avatars and virtual environments in learning: What do they have to offer? British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(1), 108-122. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2009.00991.x
Kay, R. (2012). Exploring individual differences in the impact of web-based learning tools (wblts). Research & Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, 7(2), 89-104.