How student avatars can contribute to a more social environment in online courses
“What is your opinion on this matter, x3c0p?” This is how we were addressing our students after Covid-19 took us by surprise and moved everything online at a tremendous pace. In this example, “x3c0p” is a (made-up) example of a student’s so-called “CSID”, short for “computer science ID” with the “CS” part referring to our department at UBC. With an ambitious attempt to give our “Software Construction” online class (summer 2020) some sense of a social environment, and to make our students “humans” again, I introduced the concept of “Avatars”: each student picked an avatar within the topic of their team. These teams were organized along topics like “fruits”, “berries”, “nuts” etc. and students chose avatars like “Peach”, “Strawberry”, or “Peanut”. Henceforth, students could be addressed with “What’s your opinion on this matter, Strawberry?”. Students started to identify with their avatars and uploaded, for example, Peach and Strawberry profile pictures, and the lecturer would have a casual topic to start conversations (“If only I had some strawberries now…”). Combined with the additional obvious gimmick that I would now immediately know to what team a student belonged (e.g. Strawberry is in the Berries team), the use of avatars was a great success!
In this lightning talk, I would like to provide some more insight into my idea of avatars and the associated topics for teams. Overall, I think that this concept can be a great contribution to a more “social” environment and atmosphere in online classes. I have received feedback from numerous students that specifically avatars have made our class an outstanding experience. We were a course with “only” 150 students but I am convinced that the concept would scale to larger courses just as well.
Fri 20 NovDisplayed time zone: Central Time (US & Canada) change
15:00 - 16:20
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