My Avatar Teacher

Introduction

Busy business professionals are determined to make the time to share and learn best practices from other business professionals. Most try to improve their skills through books or online training. These methods are effective but often seem one-sided when time and/or money is lacking to put on either one. This leaves the professional frustrated desiring to talk to, travel with, and tinker around other professionals who are experts in the skills that they wish to obtain and /or develop. In the late 1980’s, these Three T’s were formalized as a teaching method for the tight time individual. It was usually a method to help unite parent and child as they work together on the child’s educational needs. Through ELA, my Electronic Library Assistant, business professionals could build their own skills by taking the experts or teachers on the road with them. In order to use ELA as a training process, the Three T’s approach would allow the professional to employ the skills of talking, traveling and tinkering with devices that they used daily in personal and work life.

Existent Skills

The skills that business professionals already have will allow them an easy transition into using ELA. Business professionals read books on their Kindle and use laptops and iPhones to help them complete daily activities in their lives.

They also use the computer to repair old family photographs and transfer home movies to DVD. Reading the newspaper through the computer has become the norm. They have used the following programs in their lives: Microsoft Office (Outlook, Excel, Access, Word and Power Point), Adobe Creative Suites, Final Cut Pro, Premiere.

They have also used Macbooks for iTunes, photo albums, email, and internet searching. Through the iPhone, the business professionals know how to email, obtain internet access, view movies, play music, and access documents. Some of the business professionals have also used iPads for similar activities. Their office jobs allow them to use the Blackberry for work phone calls and IBM ThinkPads for checking work email, using Lotus Notes for work processes, and conducting training classes.

When they go to the gym or do other activities that may require music, they use their iPods. Social networking is a very big activity that is done a lot through their iPhones, netbooks, and iPads that had allowed them to connect to their Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other social networking sites.

Using The Three T’s

Through the office environment, business professionals are always developing on their usage of the Three T’s method, even if they did not know that was what they were doing. To master talking, a professional should never forget the passive and active parts. The active part simply involves the professional talking to other professionals. These could be experts in the field (subject matter specialists) who have obtained some skills in the area that the professional wishes to master. A professional has to remember that in these interactions, both parties should be permitted to express his or her ideas. Therefore, sometimes one professional should listen and be the passive member of the conversation with the other professional. This may enable both parties to realize that there is always a person that will listen to problems. As this realization grows, the professionals may be given more and more opportunities to be the active members in their organization or other type of peer group.

It is almost impossible to reinforce the many new skills that a professional learns daily, without talking occurring between professionals in the office. When professionals spend a few moments to help colleagues find the answer to a question about their environment, a bond of trust and interest is created between colleagues. This bond proves useful to the professional during the networking process.

Tinkering with a professional can occur any time when a professional interacts with other professionals in doing something for specific work assignments. Peers learn together by solving problems together. Professionals gain self-esteem by being allowed to work on some parts of a project by themselves, but peers also gain from the interest, judgment, and experience of their peers when working on the same project.

When professionals travel with their colleagues/peers, they travel around conferences online and/or face-to-face by themselves or within a group. Tinkering would be an outgrowth of talking and traveling. Professionals having attempted to reproduce problems or errors that they had encountered in their job environment could be resolved through a team or network effort.

My Electronic Library Assistant

The Three T’s approach has been used to show the three main objectives for a learning environment: Talking, Tinkering, and Traveling. In order to enact these objectives, my Electronic Library Assistant (ELA) was created to help manage the steps involved in learning specific skills through an interactive avatar teacher. ELA introduces lessons that business professionals can respond to through Character Talk sessions all on one website.

The website could be through Google Sites, MS SharePoint, Blackboard, Web Tycho, or Moodle. ELA’s lessons are housed in widgets (programmed modules that display video playbacks) and prompt the users for feedback to her questions. The questions are sent to the subject matter specialist in charge of that topic or in charge of the whole site. Through the management of ELA on the website, professionals do not worry about file compatibilities and adjustments of applications to submit answers to ELA through the keyboard. Weiser (1991) suggested that this "literacy technology" is ubiquitous in our culture through books, magazines, and newspapers displaying "written information". Presently, e-books can be added to this list.

If the lessons are presented through ELA, professionals do not see it garbled by jargon of catchphrases and techno-speak from those who wanted to share how to do certain tasks in the office. The code and schematics behind the workings of the system are not needed by the end- user. Weiser (1991) believed that ubiquitous computing pertained to how humans learn how to use the technology. The user-interface is created with lessons (Character Ask You sessions) that only need a click from a mouse for the professional to begin their learning environment.

Requirements

ELA first required the following basic components for my example: Google Sites; Go Animate, Screencast and Camtasia. The requirements for Google Sites; Go Animate, Screencast and Camtasia are as follows: Adobe Flash Player 11 (or most recent) ; 2.33GHz or faster x86-compatible processor, or Intel® Atom™ 1.6GHz or faster processor for netbooks; Microsoft® Windows® XP (32 bit), Windows Server® 2003 (32-bit), Windows Server 2008 (32 bit), Windows Vista® (32 bit), Windows 7 (32 bit and 64 bit); Internet Explorer 7.0 or later, Google Chrome (most recent),; 128MB of RAM (1GB of RAM recommended for netbooks); 128MB of graphics memory; Monitor with speakers; standard computer keyboard.

I created the avatar for ELA through GoAnimate.com. GoAnimate© has most of the basic animating video requirements pre-made. The learning curve is fast if you give yourself time when you first start. The average time to work on your first animated video could take between 30 minutes to one hour. It also depends on your graphic card, memory, and Internet speed.

If the busy professional has skills that they wish to share, then they can use ELA to help them share those skills with interested colleagues. Through ELA, those with certain skills need not have to have face-to-face availability for those who wish to learn those skills. The subject matter specialists would need to write a script that ELA would follow and then record it through GoAnimate and/or Camtasia. The recording is posted on their customized Google Site.

Example

To master talking through ELA, a professional should focus on both the passive and active parts. The passive part is analyzing the pictures and textual content in a book, for example, Finding Perpetual Harmony. Usually, ELA is based on a book’s content which would be re-examined through a companion website for the readers to review. The active part involves the professional talking to avatar teachers that give a one-to-one interaction with specific subjects in each chapter that would be teaching a different skill or discussing a different viewpoint.

Through a Google Site, a portal would be created that would allow ELA and a professional to communicate through giving a one-to-one interaction through quizzing videos. Characters discuss their thoughts about a specific chapter and then the professional is asked about their view points about that chapter. If this is a technical chapter, then the question(s) would query the level of understanding the professional has obtained by presenting an analytical question that the professional would answer online. The answers would be e-mailed to the subject matter specialist for that chapter. The subject matter specialist would then reply to the professional, if needed. This could also be used in literature analysis.

The subject matter specialists could be co-workers who have obtained some skills in the area that the professional wishes to master. If the discussion from the Character Ask You sessions yielded an answer that is relevant to the discussion topic and that demonstrated an understanding of that particular chapter’s concepts, the professional would be permitted to express his or her ideas with a possible conversation from the subject matter specialist. The professional would listen and become the passive member of the conversation with the subject matter specialist through ELA’s avatar teacher, if discussion warranted more in-depth discussion.

ELA would still require the professionals to take time to listen to what ELA has to say about a specific chapter and then read the reply, if needed, to their answer that could start another question by the professional. This type of interaction would be related to their job when trying to find the answer to a question about their environment. ELA would create a bond of trust and interest between the professional and the ELA avatar teachers.

Through the Characters Ask You section of the Google Site, professionals and the avatar teacher tinker on specific work assignments guided by the avatar teacher. The professional gains self-esteem when the avatar teacher allows the professional to work on some parts of a question by themselves, but the professional could always go back to the avatar teacher’s video to replay crucial parts to help them gain insight from this digital expert.

In past classroom experiences, professionals have traveled with the avatar teachers throughout the book’s topics with actual case studies that would refer to the subject matter or skill that the professional was trying to understand. This talk, tinker, and travel continued 24 hours a day and 7 days a week without human interaction from subject matter specialists until specific discussions would show a need for further discussions and examples on that topic or skill.

The ELA method is used to involve a professional in activities which presents information for them to use in the future. It is just using each hour to its fullest while employing ELA. This training method does not create more hours in a day. It allows the busy professional to see busy moments as opportunities to introduce new skills into their real world.

Read More about It

Williams, B., & Sawyer, S. (2013). Using information technology. (10 ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Weiser, M. (1991, September). The computer for the 21st century. Retrieved from http://www.ics.uci.edu/~corps/phaseii/Weiser-Computer21stCentury-SciAm.pdf.

Weldon, S. (1986, January 7). You can educate your kids by the "three T's" method. Prince George's Journal, p. A6,