Cumbernauld College, UK

iClone and CrazyTalk at Cumbernauld College

In 2005 we were fortunate to participate in an instructional design initiative which focused on demonstrating new approaches to instructional design across a number of curricular areas – through the repurposing existing paper packs for online delivery.

Our search for animation software to produce copyright cleared animated sign-language for a chapter on Diversity within a Customer Care pack led us to Reallusion’s iClone and CrazyTalk. We developed skills in using the software very quickly and went onto to use it to develop other animated/still copyright cleared content.

Our use of avatar software to produce online content contributed to our success of winning first place in the Colleges Open Learning Exchange Group (COLEG) Innovation Award in March 2007.

As well as being used for content production CrazyTalk and iClone software is available to all students in the Learning Centre and in the classrooms of our supported programmes. The students were already familiar with CrazyTalk having used it to animate clay heads and make statements about discrimination and its impact on their lives as people with learning difficulties. The class is currently experimenting with iClone in an effort to improve their understanding of computers and to examine how software might be used to make learning more accessible to students with severe learning difficulties - sound and vision are hugely important in this respect.

The project 'The Real Team' was our first attempt and was used to 'celebrate diversity' - hence the different body types. We were able to superimpose student's own faces onto the avatars thereby securing their feeling of ownership of the project and increasing student engagement, empowerment and self-esteem.

We intend to make greater use of the 'News-desk' and to provide regular news reports on our progress and activities. These reports will be broadcast on the Common Knowledge website - created by and for adults with learning difficulties. The students and staff would like to see more characters with disabilities and products such as iClone and CrazyTalk go a long way to supporting this aim.

We also use iClone for our campus information plasma screens to advertise student information, college events and holiday specials. For example we created tartan clad dancers for the VIP opening of our new Business Centre and dancing Santa’s welcomed school pupils to a December recruitment event. Staff, students and friends of the College kindly allowed us to model our avatars on them, for both content and just for fun!

iClone content has proved particularly useful, and entertaining, for internal and external presentations.

We used Crazy Talk with students taking practical courses such as hairdressing.

We photographed items of hairdressing equipment such as hairbrushes, scissors, razors and tubes of hair dye. We gave each item facial features using Crazy Talk and then worked with students to add a script. This helped students to revise what they had learned – they were shown a photograph of a brush and asked “if this brush could talk, what would it say?”

When using CrazyTalk and iClone in this way with students and tutors, the important thing is the process, not the end product - although everyone loves the product! We intend to use the software more often with students for revision and reflection on what they have learned in their courses.

Cumbernauld College
October 2007