How Many Years Of Schooling To Become A Math Professor Talking Avatars in Education – The Virtual Teacher Comes of Age!

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Talking Avatars in Education – The Virtual Teacher Comes of Age!

Avatars, talking web personas, and virtual representatives are growing in popularity for one critical reason… they “work”!

With broadband becoming standard Internet access in all four corners of the world, the benefits and possibilities of using rich media and interactivity in marketing are starting to become a reality, if not the norm. One of the most active areas is in the so-called Animated Avatars known by many names such as: Talking Web Characters, Virtual Representatives, Virtual Characters and Web Comparisons. Their popularity is growing every day, it’s no coincidence, one of the critical reasons is… they “work”, but when using them to deliver training, presentations or integrate into CBT and education the Virtual Teacher is up to the challenge.

Assisted learning through the ubiquitous virtual tutor is coming of age.

Virtual teachers, educational presenters and tutors can have a new face, available 24/7, with the same happy, virtual, animated, automated lip sync arrangement and compelling content combined with contextual delivery. We know that retention improves, we know that “leaning back” education can be absorbed effortlessly, and we know that there is nothing more powerful in delivering complex ideas or facts than the spoken word. Virtual teachers can be available in different shapes, ages, genders and even fantasy. The flexibility is endless. Education creators can focus on the subject matter and choose the ideal Virtual Tutor to help with the process. Literature assignments can be delivered in context, and even science and math education can be made more precise when you have the help of a virtual tutor who has the power of “voice.” Web-less or locally operated education makes virtual education very effective and manageable. CBT has a new face, interactive courses can have virtual assistants and guides. Many formal training and educational environments incorporate media into their presentations and educational content, and it’s no coincidence, why? because it works! The ability to focus on content and its compelling and memorable delivery is why virtual teachers and tutors are commonplace in the high establishment of the corporate stratosphere and in high schools, both have something in common, the recognition that compelling animated virtual teachers can deliver results in a planned and precise way, where achievement can be accelerated at all levels of learning. This is no accident, its technology at its best, with a face and a purpose. Make a PowerPoint presentation, graphs, facts, figures and images, well enough, add a fully animated virtual teacher to the mix and now you have a new generation of teaching.

In an educational setting, it is a proven fact that retention and concentration of information is enhanced when faced with compelling content. So what should you look for in your talking animated character?

1: The look of Avatar

Your talking animation character is either “attractive” or looks like he fell from an ugly tree, is well-crafted and generally attractive, or is buff and unanimated. It fits your image and your delivery requirements…it’s the quality you’re comfortable associating with.

2: Automated lip sync

Is the avatar lip syncing accurate? there is nothing worse than seeing a virtual representative that looks like a badly dubbed movie, it’s critical, our brain reacts in microseconds to something that doesn’t look right! It sounds strange, but most animated speaking character offerings have less than convincing lip-synching to say the least. Simple tests include; Do virtual tutors’ lips stop moving silently? Does it form the phonemes correctly or is it just a random selection of gibberish?

3: Virtual Teachers Environmental animation, Less is more.

Animations during narration should be kept to a minimum and be subtle, almost invisible. When watching a news broadcast, you would feel uncomfortable if the comparison’s eyes were rolling from side to side and showing strange and seemingly uncontrollable head movements. It is the content delivered by the speaking avatar that is important, and all animations should be kept to a minimum to avoid distraction. Less is definitely more.

4: Virtual tutor – The voice

Text-to-speech may sound convenient, but it has a tendency to sound really bad. Remember! it’s a virtual representative, your own animated web or media comparison is an extension of your image, unless you sound like a robot away from synthesized voices. Use your own voice, or a friends voice, or use a professional voiceover artist, they’re not as expensive as you think! TTS will probably improve in the future, but for now it should only be used if you have no other choice.

5: Customize your virtual character

Some offers give you many tailoring options, even allowing the visitor to play with the character during their narration. In general, you should try to restrict tailoring to clothing and backgrounds for best effect. You want your visitors and users to have a relationship with your virtual teacher, so constantly changing its appearance does not provide continuity to the visitor or student. Having a virtual tutor that the visitor can mess around with only detracts from the message.

6: Integration and hosting of your virtual teacher

Please note that many education delivery requirements can be delivered remotely via the Internet. Please give this area a lot of thought as it is fraught with potential additional charges and risks. If you have a Pay-for-view contract, a contract that charges you a monthly fee for so many streams, the risk is your growth in visits, you end up with one of two possible problems; either you have to pay more because you got more hits as your site grows in popularity, or you can’t afford to pay more, so your talking avatar disappears and leaves a block with the provider’s logo on it your place The same goes for hosting providers, you have no control over their hosting setup, if you rely on your web comparison and your service providers servers go down, you have lost your “voice”. If your internet service goes down at the very least, the entire site is no longer viewable. Always try to use a solution that gives you full control, creates your composition on your own time, generates industry standard output (Flash, Flash Video or conventional Video) and has full flexibility when it comes to integration.

7: Flexibility allows you to choose.

Flexibility is important, it would be nice to have access to the native output of your efforts in an industry standard format such as Flash, Flash Video, AVI, etc. so you can integrate your work into other environments like Powerpoint, Camtasia, YouTube, etc. There are other services that can help you from the provider, such as Voiceover, integration and tailored services. Your composition can work offline, you can create them offline. Flexibility increases your return on investment.

Summary

Doing any job wrong is not a good idea, many people grab a new technology and throw it at their audience without thinking. Implementing a bad animated virtual representative is detrimental and could reflect your business and/or educational requirements, take your time in creating and not settle for second best.

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