Monday, March 2, 2009

Avatars?! What!

It’s crazy to think that people are coming out with new technology that can talk! Not only can these new technlologies talk, but they listen and respond! It’s like talking to a real robot! Lol. I know I sound like I am extremely fascinated by this whole thing with agents and avatars, and I am! It’s crazy to me that technology has come so far to the point where we can create 3D looking cartoons to talk and respond. What really fascinates me is that these avatars understand what is being said and can respond to whatever the other person is saying.

I think that an avatar or agent would be very useful in a classroom especially if it was an online class like this one. First of all, I think it would just be cool to have a robot talking to me instead of me just looking at my computer screen and read a bunch of text. I also think that it would really get students’ attentions because it is so different from what everyone is use to. I am a person who learns best by being told and hands on, so I think it would be very helpful and interesting to have an avatar talk to me and give me the information that I needed to learn. I also think that it would be very useful to have an avatar in a classroom when a teacher is absent. Even though there are substitute teachers, they don’t always know what’s going on, so having a robot that can portray you and teach your students what you were going to teach would be very beneficial.
Even though this new technology sounds very interesting and cool, it has its down fall as so does a lot of technologies. Like the article that we had to read for Sunday, there are always going to be people who will abuse their privileges. Like the examples that the article gives, there are going to be students who won’t actually use the avatar for what they are really going to be there for. Like the conversation where the student was asking the agent about sex and cursing at the agent. It’s hard to control these kids if there’s not actually anyone there to control and watch them. I think it will always be a problem because kids are always going to be kids.

One thing that I did think of that could maybe control what goes on between students and an avatar is the avatars can be programmed so that they have user names and passwords to get into. By having each student have their own user name and password, you can watch and control what is going on. If they don’t use the avatar for the right reasons, they can get kicked out!
I make that sound easy, but when I thought of the idea, I thought it was brilliant! Lol. Anyways I feel like the whole abusive thing is always going to be an issue so I think that people shouldn’t make such a big deal out of it. I mean don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that we should just ignore the fact that sex and drugs are being brought into education, but then again where else are they going to learn about it? Like I mentioned earlier, kids are always going to be kids and one of the things that kids are best at is being curious. By being curious, they are going to push the limit and ask inappropriate questions all because they are curious.

Overall, I think that the avatars are pretty awesome, I really had fun making my! Feel like a kid again! Lol.


  1. I had to laugh when you mentioned substitute teachers. Sometime subs get abused just like agents!!

    As far as creating accountability by using logins, I like that idea. Then maybe students will think twice before getting explicit with the agent

  2. The login in idea is certainly a reasonable one, and I bet not that technologically difficult to achieve. We shouldn't be surprised if some kid thinks his or her privacy is being invaded, but that could lead to another great learning moment: when and where and why is a communication private and when not and being able to know the difference. Even though there are some indications that younger people (because of their youth or their generational location or both) are less concerned about privacy, I suspect it is a good thing to teach about and discuss with them.

    Houa, did you make a Gizmo of yourself? Share it if you do!

  3. Hey Houa,

    What's up, blog buddy! Great blog post, and I really like your avatar. I like the way that your blog posts incorporate both your personal reactions/connections to the texts as well as practical ideas for education. For example, I really enjoyed your idea for avatar use in conjunction with substitute teachers. I agree with you about the "avatar abuse" as well--with a technology that seems to be anonymous and without consequence, should we really be surprised when students take advantage? Like you said, curiosity is a powerful thing, and we are kidding ourselves if we expect students to "stick to the assignment" 100% of the time when they are faced with this innovative technology. I know that I would be curious about how the avatars would respond to questions. And I liked how you compared them to robots. Your blogs are thoughtful, personal, and witty! Nice work!


    Rebecca Oberg