Express Yourself

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One unique way video games let you express yourself is through avatars. Merriam-Webster defines an avatar as a small picture that represents a computer user in a game, on the internet, etc. While customizing avatars you can create unique features to represent yourself or make it look like anyone you want it too. Most times you can change hair color, eye color, face shape, nose shape, lips, and hair length. In some games you can add beauty marks or even change the avatars clothes and accessories. Avatars can be used in games like  your own little puppet. You control where and what the avatar does. Creating an avatar can make you feel a deeper more personal connection with the game. With the rise of customization capabilities built into player avatars these effects may become even stronger.

http://engineering.nyu.edu/cable/issue/spring-2011/feature/unlocking-social-benefits-in-gaming

Avatars also have a huge use in virtual education. Avatars are being used specifically for teacher training. Specially designed avatars realistically imitate different types of students to help teachers practice classroom management and relate to their students. There are also speaking avatars called Vokis. Teachers in all subjects, and especially language classes, are using them by recording their own voices to match their digital avatar. Using more animated avatars helps students who feel disconnected from class discussions or who are more audio learners rather than visual learners process material and relate to the lesson more personally. Avatars also help in online learning by using online tools like blogs and forums to connect with students who can use avatars to make the Internet experience more personal and direct. Avatars also help give a campus like feel to online users. For several years now, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Harvard Law School’s CyberOne program provide open access, online courses and learning materials for the public. Unlike conventional open courseware, however, these platforms use avatars and virtual reality to help learners feel like they are actually sitting in a classroom at Harvard. By imitating the layout of campus and classrooms, students feel more engaged and enthusiastic, even if they’re learning independently at home. Avatars also help those who are distant learners with disabilities. These are not specifically designed courses for people with disabilities but rather regular courses equipped with specific functionalities to help the physically impaired to learn effectively and participate in different aspects of reality through the virtual world. There is also a large amount of online learning materials designed for people with specific mental or physical disabilities.

http://www.aspinelearning.com.au/content/Use-and-benefits-of-Avatars-in-virtual-learning

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