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Thursday, May 07, 2015

First Virtual School Where Interaction Takes Place Through Avatars

"Japan now has a new virtual school where teachers and students interact through avatars." according to Focus News.

Photo: Focus News

Japan’s first virtual school, where teachers and students interact through avatars on the internet, just opened its cyber-doors, seeking to offer an alternative education to “hikikomori”, the Japanese word referring to sufferers of an anxiety disorder similar to agoraphobia, where people isolate themselves from others.

A total of 204 students enrolled in the first term, which started on April 24, for the annual fee of 180,000 yen ($1,500).

The customisable avatars are distinguishable by the nearly infinite selection of hairstyles and clothing accessories, not unlike characters from Japanese role-playing games or Nintendo Mii avatars. It is mandatory for students to attend classes regularly — through software installed on their personal computer, tablet or mobile phone — at their new school on the web.

The programme allows students to direct their avatar through the campus, going to classes (consisting of 20-minute videos and a written exam), consulting audiovisual material or e-books in the media library, or interacting with the avatars of fellow classmates and teachers through a chat interface.

This virtual school was created by Meisei High School, a private institute in the Chiba region, which has for several years been offering distance learning programmes for baccalaureate degrees.

The 20 face-to-face tutorials throughout the academic year required by the distance learning programmes, however, still posed difficulties, and thus inspired the idea for this alternative, virtual project.

Source: Focus News