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Dear Otto: How do I use avatars?

Posted by on March 17, 2014

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Karela:

I would like something funny. I saw the site about making avatars. It is good for students above first grade but, how can they use those avatars later? I just saw a BUY option.

Avatars are great. They inform an overarching discussion on digital citizenship, privacy, and online safety. After all, why do we use avatars? I take every opportunity to use and discuss avatars with students, even if they show up on a website we’re using rather than as a student-directed project.

A few ideas on how to incorporate them into your curriculum and teaching:

  • Vokis or Gamis (from Tellagami)–students record their thoughts about technology at the start of the school year. Embed them into the class webpage, blog for parents to view
  • olders can create Vokis or Gamis that introduce their blog to classmates
  • Lego avatars are great for a robotics unit
  • any avatar is a great project to introduce digital citizenship. Why do we use avatars instead of their picture? I have students create an avatar that ‘looks nothing like them’.
  • create avatars of students, print them (I know–but we need wall decorations), post them as your ‘tech students’ or call it ‘our face on the internet’
  • create an avatar that students will use as their profile picture for their blogs (great if you’re using KidBlogs for 2nd grade and up), GAFE, websites

Here are some sites students can use to create avatars:

  1. Avatar 1–a monster
  2. Avatar 2–Lego you
  3. Avatar 3–animal
  4. Avatar 4–make me a hero
  5. Avatar 5–MadMen yourself
  6. Avatar–
  7. Avatar–Tellagami–a video avatar

That should get you started!

More DigCit posts:

Teach Digital Citizenship with … Minecraft

Book Review: K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum

113 Digital Citizenship Links

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a columnist for, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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