What it is: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sit down and talk to Albert Einstein, George Washington, or Susan B. Anthony? Wonder no more, with Virsona, your students have the opportunity to do just that! Virsona is an interesting tool that lets students create a virtual character of themselves (or a virtual literary character). Students answer a variety of questions about themselves (or another character). They can create automatically generated responses, greetings, and choose a personality for their virtual selves. After they have created their virtual persona, they can share the link to their virtual self. Anyone can ask their virtual self questions (via chat) and responses are automatically generated based on the answers that were given. Virsona has some excellent built in historical, political, and literary characters that students can interact with.. Students can chat with a virtual George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Pocahontas, Babe Ruth, Susan B. Anthony, and more. Students choose the persona to chat with, asking them questions about their stance on politics, entertainment, beliefs, and more. It is very cool! Try chatting with Abraham Lincoln here.
How to integrate Virsona into the classroom: Virsona can be used to connect students to historical characters. Students can “chat” with the historical character asking questions about their life, beliefs, politics, and more. Put your students on assignment as news reporters. Ask them to “sit down” with the historical character and interview them, taking notes about the answers they are given. Students can then fact check the interview, using primary sources, text books, and encyclopedia articles. Students can then write a newspaper article, a character sketch, or create a fake video interview using a tool like Xtranormal. Virsona is a tool that will connect your students to historical figures and learning in a way that wasn’t before possible. I have yet to meet a student who doesn’t love to chat. Put those chatting skills to good use by having them chat with historical figures.
If you teach in the elementary classroom, use Virsona as a whole class. Have students brainstorm questions they would like to ask the historical figure. As a class, chat with the VIP using an interactive whiteboard or projector.
For students over 13, Virsona can be used as a way to create an in-depth character sketch on a historical or literary figure. Students will have to really research the character in order to create a Virsona virtual persona. Students can answer questions as the literary or historical figure would have. As a culminating activity, students can visit each other’s Virsona’s to learn about other historical or literary figures.
Can’t find a character that you want your students to chat with? Why not create the character yourself? In one of our fifth grade classrooms, we have an invisible ninja who can see everything the kids do. The invisible ninja is an enigma that the students often want to know more about. It would be fun to take these fictional characters and let students chat with them virtually. Sometimes younger classrooms have “desk fairies” that leave treats randomly for clean desks. Enter into a spirit of play with your students and create a virtual version of these classroom characters.
Tips: To sign up to create a virtual character, student have to supply an email address, first and last name. To create a virtual character, students must be 13 or older. Students under 13 can still use Virsona to chat with pre-created characters without signing into the website.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Virsona in your classroom.