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Bitmoji Classrooms: Building Community with Students and Keeping Them Engaged

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Distance learning can be especially challenging for younger students, as they rely on a significant amount of in-person teaching time to master skills such as reading and writing—not to mention their development of socialization skills. Fortunately, there are some effective digital resources available to Educators that can aid students in their acclimation to the online learning environment.

What Are Bitmojis?

A recent trend in the education space are Bitmojis; virtual avatars created through the Bitmoji app. It’s likely you’ve seen them around on social media—and this generation of students are already quite familiar with them. Within the Bitmoji app, teachers have the ability to create a virtual version of themselves that looks friendly, expressive, and animated. This virtual Bitmoji avatar can then be placed into a variety of virtual environments. Teachers have found a myriad of uses for these online spaces:

  • Some teachers elect to re-create their classrooms in a virtual setting, especially during the days of distance learning. This can help bring stability and continuity into the education environment.
  • Other teachers elect to create educational hubs, where students can access vast amounts of class-related information in one easy space that’s well organized and easy to contextualize.
  • In other instances, these virtual environments can have their own pedagogical uses, helping students to visualize information in a fun way or giving them a chance to practice and assert their skills.

Bitmojis are typically constructed within the app, then exported into virtual environments or Google classroom slides via a browser plugin. There are several walkthroughs available online and on YouTube on the process.

Keeping Students Engaged Through Innovative Digital Tools

Bitmoji have become popular in educational settings because the animated-styled avatars have shown a unique capability to keep students engaged during times of distance learning. During remote learning, the majority of instruction is conducted via the internet while students are at home and easily distracted. 

Here are some creative ways to keep students engaged with help of Bitmojis:

    • Detailed Instructions: Having a Bitmoji provide the basics of a complete sentence may be more engaging to students than reading the instructions on a standard worksheet.
    • Virtual Field Trips: If your lesson plan is going to cover the ins and outs of the solar system, you can create a virtual “museum,” complete with Bitmojis and images or videos of the planets and spacecraft. 
  • Create an Escape Room: An escape room is an interactive puzzle in which the player must solve progressively more challenging riddles and questions. This is a great way to test students’ ability to recall their knowledge in an exciting and engaging way.
  • Develop a “Choose Your Own Adventure”: There is a significant amount of narrative potential in Bitmoji environments. You can create a “choose your own adventure” story that helps teach students how to solve math-related story problems.

Building Community

While Bitmojis can be an excellent way of keeping students engaged—especially online—these virtual avatars have also proven to be an essential tool when it comes to keeping students connected. School classrooms are a place of community, and it can be incredibly challenging to foster a collaborative environment within a virtual setting. 

Here are some ways teachers are cultivating virtual communities with Bitmojis::

  • Virtual Libraries: This idea can help students build community with one another; younger students can receive help reading and older students can have discussions on common texts.
  • Emotional Check-Ins: Because Bitmojis can be crafted to express different emotions, they can be useful for what some teachers perform as an “emotional check-in.” That way, they’re able to keep tabs on the well-being of their students, and inspire peer-to-peer check-ins. 
  • Video Calls: It’s challenging for Zoom-style meetings to feel unique and special, especially if every virtual classroom looks exactly the same. Bitmojis can be used to make virtual classrooms that feel personal and lived in, creating a common space for students to hang out and build community.
  • A Welcoming Face: Sometimes creating community in a virtual setting starts with something as simple as welcoming your students in. For younger students, the cartoon-esque style of the Bitmoji can do just that. For older students, the ability to “meme-ify” the Bitmoji can inspire a sense of shared space.

Bitmojis, like every other virtual classroom innovation and advancement in technology, is not a panacea. Rather, these digital avatars are a resourceful tool to have in your pedagogy toolbox, especially if they already fit within your overall teaching style. 

And while it’s important to remember to use Bitmojis wisely, equitably, and responsibly, it’s difficult to ignore that this specific digital tool seems particularly well-suited to the current challenges teachers are facing. Even in a virtual classroom, it’s always nice to see a friendly face.

To learn more about how teachers can fully utilize the innovation of Bitmojis, join Clerisy’s upcoming Teacher Mixer where you’ll have a chance to network with fellow Educators seeking forward-thinking solutions to keep students engaged within the virtual learning environment. Plus, you can earn ½ hour of CEU/CTLE for your participation, and come away with new teacher connections and instructional best practices you can implement the very next day in your classroom. 

 

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