Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Module 1 - Section 2 - Activity 7

The Professional Avatar

Hi dear all:

In Activity 7, we were asked to answer the following (provocative) questions related to the 'professional' avatar:


  • Do you think avatar appearance is an important aspect of educational activities that are being undertaken in Second Life?

No, necessarily. Perhaps, if you are working with newbies, the appearance might have some influence on them, but once the learner knows the SL environment, he or she can easily understand the difference; what really matter is if you are prepared or not to teach in SL.

  • What does appearance say about us in a teaching situation in Second Life - to what degree is it the same as real-life?

I think RL and SL teaching situations are very different. In SL you need to master several abilities you never put into practice within a traditional RL classroom. It is also different from teaching online. SL demands a lot from the teacher; he or she must know how to deal with all the technical aspects, besides having the competence to be a teacher. I mean, he or she must have been trained in the pedagogical aspects and must know the subject or course content. As a SL teacher you have to design a lesson plan and follow it, but controlling at the same time all what students are doing too (ie. voice, chat, audio, movements, etc).

The avatar's appearance might be important or not depending on your class objectives. In RL, a teacher should be careful with what he or she wears. Something that doesn't follow the standard rule might be a distracting factor for the entire class.

  • What is a appropriate professional avatar appearance for education?

Well, almost all teachers have the same physical appearance all over the world. I mean, we have standard rules on what a teacher should or shouldn´t wear, or how he or she should look like. The main aspects concerning to the avatar might be those related to behaviour instead of appearance. Some teachers are more formal than others and they would probably like to show a similar look in SL. Or, on the contrary, someone who is always tired of being dressy in RL would probably have a less formal appearance in SL. It is simply a personal style matter. With a 'professional' or 'non-professional' appearance, teachers must inspire respect and confidence, since they are an example to follow; that is something you get in return if you are a professional teacher, if you treat the others with respect, if you know the subject matter, if you prepare your class, if you listen to others and respect their ideas, etc. Of course, if you choose something very 'strange' as an avatar or something that is not 'allowed' in RL, your students might be probably observing you, instead of paying attention to class. That's a risk. It also happens in RL.

  • Does your avatar have a professional appearance for educational contexts? Yes, no? Why?

Well, it depends on what we understand for professional appearance. But, well, yes, I think she has a standard 'professional' style.

  • Is there any appearance you would never use to teach in Second Life and why?

Yes, I would never teach being naked, or I wouldn't like to teach with a devil appearance.

  • The ability to change avatar appearance could be described as an affordance of Second Life. How can the ability to alter avatar appearance be used as a teaching tool?

As a language teacher, I think the ability of changing or alter an avatar is really important, since it is an excellent resource for a warming up activity, follow up tasks, homeworks, etc. It is very useful to practice specific language skills, indeed. I think SL, in general, has many advantages for online language teachers and learners.

This is me as Vivi

You may add your comments below. They are very welcome!

See you inworld,


Module 1 Section 2, Activity 6: Almost Famous

As part of Module 1- Section 2, we were also asked to alter our avatar's skin to create a famous person. I chose Abraham Lincoln. I spent several hours to get an avatar as close as possible. Unfortunately, I had some trouble with the beard and eyebrows, which I couldn't make darker. I tried several times, and this is what I got.

While I was in a store buying some men's clothing, a woman arrived. I said hello to her although I was really uncomfortable. I had to let her know that I was not a man, and why I looked like Abraham Lincoln. She told me that I had done a good job with my avatar, which made me feel proud of myself.

What do you think about the results? Your comments are welcome!

Evelyn Michalski

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