Next for education: Teacher avatars

“It’s a combination of their personalization of their brain, so to speak, and the digital content that’s provided as part of the curriculum,” Davidson said.

In fact, Intellitar is working on a project with an unnamed private school, a services company, and a curriculum company to build an educational curriculum platform based on an intelligent avatar as an instructor.

The company already has one educator in the virtual world: Brenda Remus, a chemistry teacher at Sparkman High School in Alabama, is in the middle of developing her intelligent avatar. Remus’s husband, Walter Remus, is an Intellitar co-founder and serves as the company’s chief technology officer.

So far, Remus has developed a “script” that focuses on one lesson plan and includes her responses to students if they give a correct answer, as well as her responses if students answer questions incorrectly.

Remus said she hopes to develop 10 lesson topics over the summer, which she said would come in handy if students are absent or miss important explanations in class. After she has a chance to use it with her students, she’ll adjust her avatar’s knowledge based with student input in mind.

“I’m excited about it,” she said. “I’m looking forward to working on it this summer for those kids who are out of school because they’re sick, or if they need possible tutoring down the line.”

Remus said her principal is excited about the possibilities the technology holds, and secondary meetings with district officials are planned.

University labs have had intelligent avatars on their radar for some time. In 2007, the National Science Foundation awarded a half-million dollar, three-year grant to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and the University of Central Florida in Orlando (UCF) to help researchers create the methodology for making such virtual figures commonplace.

Laura Ascione

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