We’ve moved into a curriculum unit called Digital Life, in which we examine technology and digital media, and privacy and data, with sixth graders, and we begin this work by talking about avatars and identity.
Our discussion leads us to two main points about avatars: they are designed to be a privacy buffer between the user and the digital space they are in(using art instead of image), and avatars offer a chance for a user to project an identity, or a sliver of identity, into the world. We get to craft how the world sees us, if only in a visual way.
We work on an activity in which my students quickly design a paper/sticky note avatar for the classroom window before exploring some online avatar creation sites.
There are plenty of sports and game themed avatars (two of the most popular things my students do) in the mix but also, you can see more than a few avatars that have hidden stories that make you wonder as you look. I don’t have my students defend or explain their avatar, only make and share. We then put the sticky note avatars up on display as a visual reminder that we all inhabit both digital and classroom spaces together, and that we all have different interests and different identities.
Plus, it looks like cool art, doesn’t it?
Peace (on the pane),