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4.3.7 PracticeImagine a World

Practice Guide

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Media Literacy (S2318458)



When you say, “I’m going online,” who is the “I” who goes online? 

In this assignment, you’ll create your own avatar — a visual representation of your online self — to send into the virtual world. Your avatar could be a lot like you: a close translation of yourself into a new visual medium. Or your avatar could be only somewhat like you: an online self who’s a strategically modified version of your off-line self. In presenting your avatar, you should use your powers of written description, especially your skills in making a character and setting come alive, as well as elements of visual representation. 

Your completed assignment will include:

  1. Media representations of your avatar (such as a set of drawings, an animation, collage, photo, or video). What will it look like? How will it move, if it moves? If you are not able to create the kind of physical or digital media representation you want, you may instead create a hand-drawn sketch or set of sketches of your avatar, along with a detailed plan for how you’d imagine the avatar being created through digital media.
  2. A one- to two-paragraph written description of your avatar in which you: 
    • Describe what you have represented and reflect upon what inspired you to make the creative choices about your avatar.
    • Describe your avatar as a character. What is his or her backstory? Where does he or she exist, primarily?
    • Make sure to use sensory details to bring your avatar to life.

The Details

As you begin to think about your avatar, consider:

  • What are the primary spaces where you would expect your avatar to interact? Will this affect the overall look of your avatar or any other characteristics associated with it?
  • Think about different kinds of visual representations in the networked world. Will your avatar be based on computer-generated drawings, templates from an existing set of avatars in video games, photographs, scanned hand drawings, or something else entirely?

Don’t forget to include the basics about your avatar in your written description. What is your avatar’s name? Is your avatar’s backstory similar to or different from your own? Share your avatar’s backstory.

Step 1: Understand the Assignment

Rewrite the assignment in your own words. Underline any important words that help you focus on the task.

Step 2: Understand Your Avatar’s Purpose

Your avatar’s appearance, as well as the way he or she “behaves,” will be determined by who you are — and especially by the ways you participate, or are interested in participating, in the networked world. 

Describe the kinds of virtual worlds in which you can envision your avatar taking part. Will your avatar play games, participate in chats and forums, or represent you on a blog? To what extent do you expect your avatar to interact with other people or their avatars?

Step 3: Who Is Your Avatar?

What’s your avatar’s life story? The more you know about your avatar as a character, the more richly you’ll be able to bring it to life in media representations and through written descriptions. 

Begin to collect information about your avatar by answering the following survey from the perspective of your avatar. Remember that your avatar may be similar to you, wildly different from you, or some combination of similarities and differences. Have fun with your answers!

Will your avatar use your own name or an acronym? 

Place of origin: 

Current residence: 


Powers and skills: 

Role models: 

Favorite activities: 

Favorite books/movies/TV shows: 


How people describe me: 

How I would characterize the way I speak: 

What else people should know about me: 

Step 4: Making Your Avatar Visible

Now that you’ve considered what your avatar will do and your avatar’s character, how will you represent those things in your avatar’s appearance? 

Begin by answering the following questions:

Is there a special power, skill, or personality trait that your avatar should communicate visually? 

Is there a symbol that you could incorporate into your avatar’s appearance in order to do this? 

What physical details do you want your avatar to have? In what ways do you want your avatar to reflect your own physical features? 

Step 5: Your Media Representations

Where to Start 

Using a separate piece of paper, sketch what your avatar will look like. Don’t worry about whether it’s a good drawing. If there are certain details you’re unable to draw or convey in this picture, you can label them. 

Types of Media 

Consider the kinds of media representations you will make:

  • Do you want to generate a representation of your avatar using a digital illustration program?
  • Could you put together an ideal version of your avatar by making a collage of cutouts from magazines?
  • Would you want to draw an avatar and then scan it so that it is available as an electronic file?

Think about how you might present your avatar using other media forms: 
Do you want to:

  • Animate your avatar?
  • Record what your avatar’s voice sounds like?
  • Write a scene that shows how your avatar communicates with other avatars?
  • Write a blog post from the point of view of your avatar?
Consider the ideas listed here and then write down what forms of media you will use to present your avatar. These notes should be three to five sentences in length and can be written on the back of the same sheet of paper on which you drew the sketch of your avatar. 

Turning It In 

Can you arrange with your teacher to turn this assignment in as a JPEG or PDF, if you create a digital image or a scan? Is there an animated clip of your avatar that you would like to post to a free file-sharing website, such as Sendspace.com? If you decide to make a physical drawing or collage, will you present the final version as a poster or on a particular type of paper? Don’t forget that your completed assignment must include the media representation of your avatar as well as a written description.

(If you are making a plan for media you want to use in the future, rather than creating the actual digital representation right now, write a description of how you would go about the above steps.)

Write two to five sentences about how you will arrange with your teacher to turn in your assignment. You should mention the form the assignment will be in (a hard-copy set of papers or PDF, for example), as well as your method of turning it in (in person, by email, or through a file-sharing website, for example). You can make your notes on the same sheet of paper that contains the sketch of your avatar and your notes about media representation.

Step 6: Weaving Everything Together in Your Written Description

The written portion of this assignment should have two components. 

PART 1: Reflecting on Your Media Representation 

In this part of the assignment, you should explain the choices you made in representing your avatar. 

Here’s an example of one kind of detail you could include: My avatar wears a cape adorned with the image of a red pen because I want to communicate that she is the superhero of correcting grammatical mistakes on the Internet.

PART 2: Describing Your Avatar as a Character 

This part of the assignment may flow directly from the first part or be presented separately. 

In this part of the assignment, you should describe your avatar as a character. There are two ways you can approach this:

  • Describe your avatar from a third-person perspective. You should address the avatar’s background and qualities and give concrete examples from his or her “life” that demonstrate these things. Consider using examples that show the avatar in action with other avatars.
  • Write a narrative of a day in the life of your avatar — from your avatar’s point of view. Think about how you can use the avatar’s narrative voice as a way to bring the character to life.
In either case, be sure to use sensory details and examples that show, rather than simply tell, something about the avatar. 

Here’s one example of showing versus telling:

Rules are very important to my avatar.

You won’t see my avatar online after 9 p.m.; it’s against house rules.

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