the presence of avatars

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Post on 29-Apr-2015




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One of the classic ways that researchers and managers of distance education in the last century framed learning at a distance was to characterize it as a form of “tele-communication” between “teachers” and “students” (Jonassen, Davidson, Collins, Campbell, & Haag, 1995). The underlying premise—that distance education could or should be treated primarily an exchange of messages between “senders” and “receivers”—fails to address the experiential challenges and opportunities posed when teachers and learners use avatars to project their “tele-presences” in remote environments and virtual realities (Allen & Lawless-Reljic, 2011). This presentation will discuss my dissertation “The Effects of instructor-Avatar Immediacy in Second Life, an Immersive and Interactive 3D Virtual Environment” and my work on social presence in virtual worlds. I will explore questions about the potential value of social presence projected by teachers and learners through avatars situated in virtual worlds. I will provide a brief orientation to characteristics of avatars, using Second Life to illustrate issues and examples. I will also provide observations from my work as Communication Chair and host of inworld events for ARVEL SIG. I will finally provide recommendations for best social presence practices for inworld teaching.


  • 1. A Few Tips During the Presentation
    • Keep your mic off at all time (see Preferences)
    • Feel free to type your questions and comments DURING my presentation.
    • Re-type your questions again if I did not get to them (copy and paste).
    • The backchannel is all yours. Its ok to reply to other peoples comments
    • Do not use all CAPS when typing. I CAN HEAR YOU JUST FINE
    • Avoid playing with your fun gestures and noises.
    • The ppt viewer is locked. I will unlock it after prez.
  • 2. Presence of Avatars Sabine Lawless-Reljic, Ed.D. Communication Chair, ARVEL SIG Athabasca University, Second Life Campus 9/22/2011
  • 3.
  • 4. Poll tool
    • Click on the red button if you teach a distance class
    • Click the green button if you teach face to face
    • Click the yellow button if you teach both
  • 5. Type in chat
    • What differences are there in the teacher-student relationship in F2F vs Online?
  • 6. Quick Reminders
    • Educational technology: (also called learning technology) is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources . (Richey, R.C. (2008). Reflections on the 2008 AECT Definitions of the Field.)
    • Transactional distance: is not a physical phenomenon. It is an instructional event in a learning situation. (ref. Michael G. Moore)
    • Mediated Social Presence : From a low level awareness that another being is co-present to more intense sense of the accessibility of psychological modeling of the others intentional states. (Harms & Biocca, (2004). Internal consistency and reliability of the networked minds measure of social presence.)
  • 7. Dissertation
    • The Effects of Instructor-Avatar Immediacy in Second Life, an Immersive and Interactive 3D Virtual Environment
    • Examine the role of instructor-avatar behaviors and the ways these behaviors influence the degree to which avatars are perceived as real, authentic, empathetic
    • Being there and being there with others
  • 8. MultiUser Virtual Environments
    • The 3 Ps
    • Sense of Presence: MUVEs have the potential to significantly reduce the subjective feelings of psychological and social distance often experienced by distance education participants (McKerlich, 2007)
    • Sense of Place : MUVEs are richly expressive environments that immerse the participant in a setting that includes sound and visual cues, rich textures, and realistic perspectivesand vividly create a sense of place (Johnson & Levine, 2008)
    • Sense of Power/Autonomy: MUVEs allow users to move around in the virtual world and see it from different angles, to reach into it, grab it, and reshape it (Rheingold, 1991)
  • 9. Avatar Presence
    • Heeter (1992): VE responds to a persons actions (environmental presence).
    • Witmer & Singer (1998): subjective experience of being in one place or environment, even as one is physically situated in another.
    • Russo (2001): degree to which a person is perceived as real in a mediated environment and recognized as they are communicating with another human being.
  • 10. Immediacy Behaviors
    • Measure of the number, combination, and intensity of immediacy behaviors in relevant and appropriate learning event contexts according to modern American presentation conventions.
    • Frequency + Intensity + Appropriate use of behaviors.
  • 11. Immediacy Behaviors: Examples
    • Verbal Cues (Gorham, 1988)
    • Call students by name
    • Use inclusive pronouns
    • Use humor
    • Provide feedback
    • Use personal examples
    • Ask questions
    • Refer to class as our class
    • Praise students work, actions
    • Nonverbal cues (Richmond et al, 1987)
    • Move in front of/away from desk
    • Gesture while talking
    • Use variety of expressions
    • Smile at students
    • Make eye contact
    • Move around classroom
    • Other proxemics (body lean, openness, orientation, etc.)
  • 12. Automated Immediacy Behaviors
    • MUVE Your Avatar, pp 19 to 21
  • 13. Conclusion
    • Strong correlations between student perceptions of social presence and student perceptions of specific immediacy behaviors.
  • 14. Observations from the field
    • ARVEL SIG InWorld Discussions
    • Social presence and community
    • Current online best practices
    • Avatar nonverbal immediacy (sp. Gestures)
    • Gaming background
    • Activity categories in VW
  • 15. Recommendations Paralanguage behaviors Text * Voice quality * Tone, Style * Emotion & Speaking Style * Spatial arrangement of * Prosodic Features words * Use of emoticons * Use of symbols & NonVerbal infographics *Proxemic behavior, body Avatar language/posture * Clothing, hairstyles * Facial expression & gaze direction * Physique * Gestures + Course Structure
  • 16. Type in chat
    • Rate your sense of presence:
    • 0-1-2-3-4
    • (0) I felt completely alone (4) I felt right in the middle of the conversation
    • Rate your sense of place:
    • 0-1-2-3-4
    • (0) This was just too unreal (4) I felt immersed in the setting
    • Rate your sense of power/autonomy:
    • 0-1-2-3-4
    • (0) I could not do anything with this thing (4) I could do things! I moved around, I grabbed objects!
  • 17. Contact Info
    • Email : [email protected] Web: Sabine Reljic (LinkedIn, Skype) SReljic (Twitter)
    • Virtual Worlds:
    • Willow Shenlin ( 3rd Rock Grid, 3DXplorer, ExitReality, InWorldz, Reaction Grid, Science Grid, Second Life, SmallWorlds ); Willow Virtual (Grand Central Sim); WillowWarC ( Minecraft, World Of Warcraft ); SKYlawless ( Blue Mars ); Sabine Reljic ( AET Zone, ScienceSim ); Radarr (3D GameLab)