Thursday, May 9, 2013

Creating Student Avatars - Balancing Project Design With "Safe For School"

Source: Dude Factory
As school projects migrate to laptops and tablets, student choice becomes a blessed corollary to any multimedia creation. Even the most scripted lesson, when executed via a web tool, can find a way to incorporate a small amount of customization. A lot of Internet resources feature dynamic themes or color choices that permit student individualization. At the very least, however, most blogs and social networks allow users to upload unique avatars to distinguish their profiles.

An avatar is a personalized online icon that represents a user's virtual self. Whether on open-ended web pages or straightforward Prezis, a signature avatar can give a child great pride in his or her masterpiece. There are a lot of quirky avatar generators available on the web. Many of them, though, require accounts. Even if free, these logins require email addresses and erect barriers to ease-of-use and effiency. Also, many of the cleverest avatar sites are not safe for school. For example, Dude Factory has great options, but it allows characters to hoist martinis.

The sites below are free, with neat and appropriate options in creating avatars. They also appeal to the wide range of tastes. By the way, we find it easiest to avoid the process of saving or downloading the finished products, and instead we use the screencap command to select a desired field.

Source: DoppelMe


DoppelMe offers an impressive range of colors, with upbeat and kid-friendly characters. The accessories and backgrounds provide cute choices for boys and girls. Users can select among basic clothing and expressions right away, but they can gain access to more free items by signing in.

Source: Unique


The Unique interface presents a Japanese comic book,  anime-style gallery. The cartoon characters have appealingly mischievous grins. The smooth application also presents one of the easiest visual tools of all the avatar sites.

Source: Reasonably Clever

Reasonably Clever

For Lego figures, Reasonably Clever is a terrific option for young learners. The web page and graphic interaction are not nearly as crisp and modern as other sites, but the end products are still winsome for projects and class blogs.

Source: BuiLD


Sponsored by the New York Zoos and Aquarium, BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF combines essential avatar choices (eyes, clothing, etc.) with outlandish animal features to generate half-human, half-beast images. In an illustrative style, the drawings echo picture books in their artistry.

Source: Bitstrips


Bitstrips focuses more on the nuances of the face than other avatars. The comics-friendly site uses cartoony animation to offer a host of choices in designing just the right length of hair and just the right creases on the forehead. The final product, therefore, can actually resemble the user, if desired.

Source: Dream Avatar

Dream Avatar

For slightly older students, Dream Avatar is surprisingly sophisticated in its spectrum of creative elements. The icons evoke images from manga, and the accessories allow for a fully realized backstory to each character. Some teachers may not want children selecting among the more teenage options, but the good thing about the site is that it can appeal to any age of techie (including adults).

For other avatar generators, check out Picasso Head for older students or Square Face Icon for younger students. In addition, this Copyright Friendly wiki lists 30 - 40 possible avatar choices.


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