Saturday, August 15, 2009

Avatars, Gravatars and Gizmoz

Again with the etymology . . .
Voki is a combination of Vox and Loki. Vox being the latin word for voice and Loki is a character from Nordic Mythology.

Here are a few examples of avatars that I have created recently. Not only was using Voki fun, but I then created a "Doppel Me" character which can be used in forums and blogs (as a static, non-interactive creation).

Then I found Gizmoz where a 3d image of my own photo can be used to create avatars and use them in mini videos, or I could use their images. They are similar to Voki in that you can record your own voice, or type in text. For the example below, I actually chose a file clip supplied by Gizmoz.

Not only am I now finding all these tools, I am starting to read the technology sections in the newspaper (on-line naturally). I recently read this article about Gravatars. So, curiosity dictated that I had to go and discover what they were all about. What is a gravatar?
According to a "globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things" - very similar to Doppel Me.

From what I can see, Voki and Gizmoz are far more interactive and have a wider range of purposes, rather than the static avatar that can be created for forum or blog postings.

How can they be used in an educational context?

"Avatars provide a face to the students and a face to the teacher. They provide
the human element to online teaching" - Cohen, 2007

Avatars are a way of providing anonymity for students. They are a way for students to have a mask to hide behind when presenting information as well as protecting their identity. This addresses the needs of the shy student, while also relieves parental concerns about how their child is being portrayed online.

As has been demonstrated in this course, avatars can be used to introduce new topics and subject matter.

From reading other blogs, I like how Andrew would use an avatar as a means to introduce himself to his class and how Leonie would use avatars as guest speakers, in web quests or a means to assist in literacy.

I have discovered that there are many educational blogs and wikis that provide information about how avatars can be used in the classroom. Classroom 2.0 gave an example that used avatars, wikis and podcasts in a global classroom collaboration, again demonstrating how the components of relate-create-donate are being used in learning environments.

This is a tool that I look forward to being able to use.

Cohen, A (2007) Classrooms without Walls. Downloaded August 2009 from

Encyclopaedia Britannica. Downloaded August 2009 from

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999) Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Downloaded 5 July 2009 from

Voki etymology. Downloaded August 2009 from


  1. I am quite excited - I created a gravatar for myself and wondered when I would get to use it. I commented on a peer's blog, and suddenly, my gravatar appeared - it was automatic.
    I am constantly being amazed . . .

  2. Wow what a great technology. I had never heard of a Gravatar as well, now I am going to have to research what this is.

    All this new technology is so interesting. When creating my Avatars i was hooked on them, I can see how they can engage the students.

    I think they are a great idea for those students who don't feel comfortable in their learning environment. I know when in class I feel hesitant to speak up but these characters can really provide a safe and friendly environment for students who may feel as I do.