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Friday, May 30, 2014

Introduction to DroppelMe a web tool that creates avatars



When mentoring our pre-service and in-service teachers we need to describe and model both research-based and clinically tested best practices, and demonstrate how these best practices can be applied in the real (i.e. physical) and virtual (i.e. online) classroom for both teaching and teacher training. The combination of face to face instruction in a physical setting and online learning is called blended learning. In this section of the blog we will describe how the internet can serve as a supplemental resource for instruction and the mentoring of pre-service and in-service Jewish educators. In this post we will begin our discussion on how the avatar creation web tool , DroppelMe,  can be used for Judaic instruction and the mentoring/teaching of pre-service and in-service Jewish educators. 

What is a computer avatar?

A computer avatar is a graphic image or file that represents the person using the computer. Click here to connect to a blogpost that elaborates on the definition of a computer avatar.

In a previous blog post we shared how avatars can be used to promote instruction in the blended learning classroom. Click here to connect to that blog post.


Assumption: The teacher or mentor teacher has an interactive white board (i.e. SMART Board, Promethean, etc.), a Tablet PC (also called a Slate or Blade), a computer presenter or computer with internet access attached to an LCD projector in the classroom. It would be ideal if students or mentees had access to their own laptop computers or Ipads. Given parental and school approval, and the development of specific guidelines, smartphones can be used to enhance instruction as well.

Note: Although DroppelMe can be applied in the Judaic Studies blended learning classroom, it can be also be used for training pre-service and in-service Jewish educators for professional or staff development. It is our hope that Jewish educators around the globe will form an online community of practice, a CoP, a group of people who share an interest, a craft, and/or a profession, to enhance the delivery of instruction and training of Jewish educators. For example, here is a CoP you might want to join. 

Note: DroppelMe can be used in a face to face and virtual classroom.


Where is  DroppelMe located on the internet?


Where can I find tutorials demonstrating how to use DroppelMe?

Click on the links below to find tutorials on using DroppelMe:




On the next blog post we will discuss how DroppelMe, an avatar creation web tool, can be used to promote instruction in the blended learning classroom.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Examples of avatars that display different Jewish concepts



In a previous blog post we shared how avatars can be used to promote instruction in the blended learning classroom. Click here to connect to that blog post.

On the website link listed below you will find many different avatars that can be used to promote instruction in the Judaic Studies blended learning classroom:




Here are sample avatars that present or display different Jewish concepts:













On the next blog post we will explore an avatar creation web tool, DroppelMe.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Examples of avatars that represent different Jewish holidays



In a previous blog post we shared how avatars can be used to promote instruction in the blended learning classroom. Click here to connect to that blog post.

On the website link listed below you will find many different avatars that can be used to promote instruction in the Judaic Studies blended learning classroom:




Here are sample avatars that represent different Jewish holidays:















On the next blogpost we will share examples of avatars that display different Jewish concepts.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Avatars that can be used in the Judaic Studies Classroom



In a previous blog post we shared how avatars can be used to promote instruction in the blended learning classroom. Click here to connect to that blog post.

On the website link listed below you will find many different avatars that can be used to promote instruction in the Judaic Studies blended learning classroom:



Here are four sample avatars from this website:








On the next post we will share examples of avatars that represent different Jewish holidays.

Friday, May 23, 2014

How computer avatars can be used to enhance instruction


How computer avatars can be used to enhance instruction

Computer avatars  can be used for

  1. Training teachers
  2. Acquiring language proficiency (Talking avatars like Vokis
  3. Assisting learners as a tour guide
  4. Connecting students during online instruction
  5. Virtual learning in a website such as Second Life
  6. Bringing historical figures to live
  7. Giving remote learning a feeling of being in a classroom or campus
  8. Personalizing instruction
  9. Problem solving and
  10. Assisting the teacher




Let's elaborate on these ten items via this link:





1.    Training teachers 
One of the more popular ways that avatars are being used in education is for teacher training. As part of a new research program at the University of Central Florida, specially designed avatars realistically imitate different types of students to help teachers practice classroom management and relate to their students. The training teachers stand in front of a projection screen, on which they see avatars that are being controlled — or acted out — by actual university students trained to behave a certain way. Other noises or outbursts like laughing or obnoxious sound effects are thrown in, too, to keep the trainee on his or her toes.
For more information: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/07/07/avatars
2.    Vokis 
Vokis are speaking avatars, and teachers in all subjects, but 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. Language teachers have been using vokis to help students with pronunciation and conversation, too, letting them voice-over their avatars. For more information: http://teacherweb.com/MA/HopedalePublicSchools/PatGranchelli/uap13.aspx
3.    Customized "tour" guides: 
Either with vokis or regular avatars, teachers can create virtual "tours," led by an avatar guide. The guide could be a digital representation of the teacher or of a completely different person. History teachers may take their students on a virtual tour of another country or The Oregon Trail, while art teachers can design their own tour of a virtual museum or gallery. For more information: http://techntuit.pbworks.com/Avatars-In-Education
4.    Connecting via online learning: 
Professors of online courses or teachers who use online tools like blogs and forums to connect with students can use avatars to make the Internet experience more personal and direct. Instead of reading all of the course material, avatars create the opportunity for virtual lectures and more interaction. For more information: http://acohen843.wordpress.com/2007/11/11/avatars-and-education/ 

5.    Second Life:
The virtual reality environment Second Life has been used in higher education and for younger students for years, but its potential for experiential learning, role playing and online education is still impressive. Those who promote Second Life as an education tool applaud its ability to promote active discussion and participation and help students apply concepts in a concrete, realistic way. For more information: http://www.ibritt.com/resources/dc_secondlife.htm
6.    Bringing historical figures to life: 
Some teachers are even designing avatars to look like historical figures like Mark Twain or Albert Einstein, bringing important lessons to life for students. By animating important figures that students traditionally only read about in heavy textbooks, teachers are able to personalize and contextualize the subject, too. For more information: http://techntuit.pbworks.com/Avatars-In-Education
7.    Giving remote learners a campus feel: 
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 mimicking the layout of campus and classrooms, students feel more engaged and enthusiastic, even if they’re learning independently at home. For more information: http://www.pbs.org/teachers/learning.now/2006/10/cyberone_the_future_of_educati.html
8.    Personalized avatars for students: 
Avatars aren’t just substitute teachers or guest speakers. Students are also getting to create their own avatars which they can "take" with them as they explore websites and virtual reality games online. These avatars allow students to cross the portal into the online world so that they’re getting hands-on experience instead of just passively listening to a one-way lecture. For more information: http://philly-teacher.blogspot.com/2009/08/free-kid-friendly-avatar-creators.html
9.    Solving problems and gaining real-world experience through virtual games:
This New York Times article reports on high school students acting as mayors, business professionals and engineers trying to clean up the oil spill, all by controlling their avatars. Through Second Life and other labs, these students get to interact with each other and other students with different backgrounds, teaching them how to practically collaborate with all kinds of people in real-life situations, or even crises. In this way, students aren’t just learning about history or science, they’re gaining professional skills to help them in the business world, even before they enter college. For more information: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/07/nyregion/07avatar.html
10.    Teacher assistants: 
In overcrowded classrooms, teachers need all the help they can get, but their schools don’t always have the budget for assistants. Avatars, though, are being introduced to help teachers praise students working independently and just provide general positive feedback to help students’ self-esteem as they learn. As students work on the computer, they can design an avatar — or the teacher can design one for them — to stick with them as they try to solve problems and look for positive reinforcement from a teacher figure. So far, these avatars are already being used in special needs and traditional classrooms. For more information: http://onlinetherapyinstitute.ning.com/profiles/blogs/avatars-elearning-selfesteem
Reprinted with permission from Emma Taylor from Accredited Colleges Online’s blog July 28, 2010 
http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.com/blog/2010/10-amazing-ways-avatars-are-being-used-in-education/


On the next blog post we will share avatars that can be used in the Judaic Studies Classroom.

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Richard D. Solomon's Blog on Mentoring Jewish Students and Teachers

http://nextleveljewisheducation.blogspot.com/