Well, I’m trying to get my Online Calc class up and running this week and at some point I became obsessed with getting an avatar to make the announcements in the course. Why use an avatar? Let me tell you a story…

When I was in 8th grade, I took Geometry from a guy named Mr. Allison. He had the most bizarre colored pants (to this day I can still remember Mr. Allison’s famous red pants). Every day, it was worth it to go to class just to see what color his pants would be. As a consequence, I never missed a day of class and I really did enjoy learning from the guy.
My current thinking is that if the avatar changes pretty often, the students will at log in to class often just to see if the avatar has changed. Then, when they see the avatar, it will remind them out loud (in 60 seconds or less) what is about to be due or any other important announcements (“schedule your next test” comes to mind). Is that silly? Yes. Might it work? Also yes. It could. (Really… have you tried it? Can you tell me for sure it won’t work?)
So, all evening I’ve been experimenting with the avatars on SitePal. The only major problem I’ve encountered is that all the female avatars are pretty “busty.” I think they might have all been designed for naughty websites. Or I could have a giant moose for an avatar. Imagine learning calculus from a moose! “The integral of 3x^2 is x^3+C” says the moose.

So finding appropriate attire and “sexing down” the avatar requires a bit of work. But it is doable. Once I finally created a professional looking avatar (not like the live avatar to the right), then it was time to choose a background.

Imagine your calculus instructor teaching next to a sink drain with water and debris being sucked down the hole. Hmm… I feel a problem about rotational velocity forming in my brain…

OR you could teach in front of a police car with flashing lights… cue the word problem about velocity and acceleration.

OR you could teach in front of “the matrix” (it moves)… no word problems coming to mind for that one, but I’m thinking that having a contest to write the best word problem to go with the daily background would be awesome!

There is other avatar software out there (iClone for example). But this was quick and dirty and it will have to do for now (no time to learn anything else).

Before you dismiss me and my blog as completely ridiculous, let me ask… would your next department meeting be more enjoyable if it were led by a purple-skinned bald woman with sunglasses? Yeah… that’s what I thought.

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