Next for education: Teacher avatars


UIC researchers are focusing on computer graphics and virtual interaction capabilities, and UCF researchers are working on the AI and natural language processing software.

UIC’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory also began work on a motion-capture studio that would digitize the image and movement of real people. Databases will contain the digital figures’ knowledge.

Future applications for education are broad.

“In the future, I could begin to build a subject matter expert that is based off two or three subject or curriculum experts, and combine that knowledge into a single repository, where now I will build this super-intelligent teacher or avatar as an information or reference source,” Davidson said. “The amount of content that is available to the avatar to be used to extract the right answer or response to a question or inquiry is unlimited.”

Other uses already in practice include creating an avatar of a famous or historical person. In addition to Intellitar’s Benjamin Franklin , a clone of Alexander Hamilton exists at a New York-based museum.

“You [can] build an intelligent avatar of a famous historical or important figure, and you interact with [it] by asking questions, and the content is based on the volumes of information about that person’s life or experiences,” Davidson said. “Students can have this library of historical figures.”

The technology also might be used to create virtual tutors for different subjects.

Laura Ascione

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