E-Learning – The Measurable Benefits Of Virtual Teachers
E-Learning has accelerated over the past years with the increase in access to good quality internet access and the recognition from education providers that Computer Base Training is not a “fad” but has measurable benefits, add to that the inclusion of Animated Virtual Teachers commonly known as Avatars or Virtual Tutors and you have a winning formula.
If you are actively involved in the production of Rapid E-Learning, Virtual Teachers can raise the effectiveness of your content . In an advanced study at Stanford University their research shows measurable effects when content delivery is assisted following the integration of an avatar.
Three factors and objectives play a leading role in the delivery of E-Learning;
The Improvement of Performance – as shown in the “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning” research performed by the US Department of Education.
Increased Access – Allowing high calibre content and knowledge to cross borders, students can have access without the conventional physical, political and economic boundaries. Furthermore; Experts can make up-to-the-minute information available internationally in an instant with minimum costs. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for example have extensive resources from its undergraduate and graduate level courses online.
Learner Convenience and Flexibility. E-Learning unlike formal educational delivery is generally self-paced and is normally available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year.
It is clearly demonstrative that with an e-learning market value in excess of 56 billion dollars not only is this an standard delivery mechanism but with an extensive market, providers are continually looking at new and innovative ways if increasing effectiveness and the introduction of “viable” virtual teachers or avatars is a single step that offers rewarding results and allow content to stand out.
What Avatar or Virtual Teachers options are available? Many entries into the avatar market have come and gone over the years most primarily focused upon web representatives and shop style assistants. In many cases unconvincing visual appeal and poor audio delivery proved to be a stumbling block. One of the most well known for good and bad reasons is Sitepal , however being mainly web centric its presence within the e-learning production line is limited to say the least. AlterEgos is a solution firmly positioned within the Computer Based Training environment is, giving an extensive character library (60 or so at the last count), automatic lip-synching to either your own voice or realistic Text To Speech and most importantly access to industry output video files ready to be imported directly into your e-learning creation tool.
With excellent authoring and screen recording tools including Camtasia from Techsmith (now having a Mac based solution), Articulate Studio, Captivate from Adobe, PowerPoint and Keynote access to importable local media is imperative. So using an appropriate avatar creation tool with Flash Video or AVI output is imperative.
When you are looking for your own virtual teacher ask yourself the following; Is the production environment for your avatar composition flexible, does it give you different output formats for integration into your chosen e-learning solutions, can your composition work off-line, within a presentation or integrated into another video. What are the “real” costs. Can you give your potential avatar creation tool a complete test before committing to any spend!
Putting over “complex” or “education specific” content can be difficult when you are limited to just text and images irrespective of the presentation medium, you just can’t beat the spoken word delivered in a compelling manner, when combining audio with a visual learning guide you have the ideal combination. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that by integrating any avatar or virtual tutor into your e-learning material will be beneficial, on the contrary, if you integrate a bad one (direct from the ugly tree), it could reflect on the compelling nature of your material.
AlterEgos Avatar solution can be obtained from here or you can watch a 5 minute AlterEgos Virtual Tutor overview it may even give you some ideas for your own content.