Digital Sandbox

This Blog is designed to provide the reader with information on how to adopt technology into the classroom by relooking at traditional classroom tools and transitioning into new ways of teaching and learning. The Digital Sandbox explores the future of learning through the recreation of 21st Century learning environments.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Avatars in Digital Storytelling

Avatars can be used by classroom teachers when designing digital stories or delivering content. Avatars can represent a tour guide explaining travels along the Silk Road, or represent real life characters like Mark Twain giving a lecture on his home or Einstein introducing the solar system. Most avatars are known as “bots” and are powered by Natural Language Processing. Some avatars like Crazy Talk allows users to record natural voiceovers along with secondary sound recording like music. (Visit The Digital Sandbox)

Avatars like GoAnimate allows the user to program several characters within a single lesson narrative. When incorporating avatars into a lesson they can be used to define terms, give directions to an activities or reinforced content. Avatars can also be integrated into a PowerPoint presentation as they are incorporated into a collaboration website lesson.

Students can also use Avatars as they make presentations that are supported by media based technology as they post authentic assignments to a collaborative website such as a wiki. Developing avatars is a great way to have students learn vocabulary and use their writing skills in creating literary or informational text. 

The video of Mark Twain above was created by importuning a still black and white image of Mark Twain into Crazy Talk. The first step in creating the video was to write a first person script depicting Mark Twain's life in Connecticut. The script was then recorded by me as a narrative in Audacity. The next step in the process was to import a black and white image of Mark Twain into Crazy Talk. The voiceover created in Audacity was imported and rendered by mixing both the still image and narrative together. The first generation render gave the still image a real life character effect of a moving image of Mark Twain.

The next step in the process was to import the video and still images that I shot when visiting the Hartford home in Connecticut. I imported both the still images and raw video clips into MovieMaker along with the Crazy Talk render of Mark Twain and mixed theses elements together using a second audio track. To give effect to the mix, I used the "film age oldest" setting within MovieMaker and set the film level at black and white. In the second render from MovieMaker gave the effect of a first motion picture look generated from the early 1900's. For more information on using avatars in digital storytelling go to Avatars in the Flipped Classroom.

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