Avatars and Open Courseware in Distance Education Freshman Physics
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Athabasca University has engaged thousands of students in for-credit, non-calculus freshman physics over the past 15 years, a success in part attributable to innovative use of home laboratory technology. In now offering calculus-based courses suited to a science or pre-med stream, we have found it advantageous to use MIT Open Courseware. Carefully selected segments provide high quality video lectures and demonstrations in a form that is suited for viewing at home or on a mobile device. Taking further advantage of the online and video-oriented aspect of the course, we have used Xtranormal© cartoon production facilities to provide continuity through use of a scriptable set of avatars, providing characters that students can relate to as they do individual home study distance education.