A few years ago my then media specialist (who is now a professional ceramicist!) taught me about a cool online program called, Voki. Voki is a website that allows you to create a customized, personal, animated avatar. . .that speaks! In fact, if you have access to a cell phone or a microphone, you can even use your own voice. If not, there are plenty of voices from which to choose.
She discovered it was used for mainly social means, but she saw the potential for education. As I am total technology nerd, I quickly developed ways to incorporate this totally engaging digital exploration into my digital art class. My students -at that time- created wikis about famous artists. They had to create a Voki of their chosen artist and articulate that Voki. It was SOOO cool. We ended up with animated version of Pollock, Rothko, and Warhol that spoke right to us.
Well, Voki has discovered the "untapped" resource of education and now has an entire Voki service devoted to students and teachers. I REALLY encourage you to go and try it out (I promise they haven't paid me). I believe this resource has endless ways to be used as both an engagement tool and a means for higher order thinking skills. . .Also, in tons of different courses. It would make you look so slick to bring up Voki's at your school's next collaboration meeting (just sayin').