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There are three things that I ask students to do when they first log onto our VLE at Rickypedia.

1. Change their password
2. Fill in the profile information (see previous post on customising profile feeds)
3. Create an avatar (an online picture representing them)

The instructions I use for students are publicly available here. Feel free to borrow them and if you improve on them (not hard to do) then let me know so I can borrow yours!

I got some of the ideas for creating avatars from Ian Usher’s blog post on the same subject – it’s well worth reading and discusses online identity forming and whether to allow students to post their pictures as avatars. I told students not to use pictures but a few didn’t follow instructions and I’m still undecided what to do about it!

There are hundreds of websites available for creating avatars, just search and you’ll find plenty on the web. You’ll also find that your students know plenty of places already that they have already used for their Myspace and Bebo profiles.

If you’re a moodle user and an admin on your site you can see a great display of user profile pictures by visiting http://www.yourmoodlesite.org/userpix/ Click the picture below to see what my students look like.

student avatars

3 Responses to “Personalisation, online identities and avatars”

I go for a more viral approach re avatars – I let them find out in their own time how to change their avatar. Usually it’s after the Internet Safety lesson (“don’t publish your picture online, certainly not next to your name”) that they start to think about representing themselves online in the VLE. Seems any of them have facebooks already, and then it’s time to start being scary with them re personal identity online. That always gets a few avatars changed from personal pictures to something else. If they persist on leaving personal pictures online they get gentle hints from me to change them (ie I change them to something entirely bland). My rationale is that I am ‘in loco parentis’ and I wouldn’t allow my kids to post their pix online where they could be identified alongside their daily location. There’s something of an issue here – my snaps on flickr have the kids in all their glory and some pix are geotagged – I don’t think I’ve geotagged any at home though and I avoid tagging those that might be centred on home or show places we regularly visit.

Love the userpix thang – I didn’t know that dodge! Interestingly, our twins in Year 7 have chosen the same avatar! How strange…

Have been using moodle for over a year and didn’t know about the display of user profile pictures. Thanks for the tip!
Patricia
PS: You might be interested in adding your blog details to the new International Edubloggers Directory at http://edubloggerdir.blogspot.com
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[…] they made at the start of the lesson became their avatar. I’ve written two previous posts on avatars and profile fields. These activities took about 30 minutes of the lesson to complete. Next students […]

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