Virtual worlds in education. I must say that at first, I had my reservations about how applications such as Second life may be useful in education. However, this view may have been shaped by my first experience in Second life, where I wasted one hour of my life trying to figure out a way to rid my avatar of the horrific knee Hugh combat boots which came with the hair style I wanted. I would be lying if I said I eventually solved this problem, but hey, at least I am working on developing my problem solving skills right?
After becoming sick of the sight of my avatar’s combat boots, and beginning to think that using a virtual world in a classroom would not be worth the trouble, I decided to do a google search (thank god for google right!).
I found the above video whilst looking for some useful ideas involving the use of virtual worlds. The video presents several ideas which I can see being useful in an educational context. A main one being the idea of using virtual worlds to explore sustainable living. I find this to be interesting, as it not only works on developing environmental awareness, but also develops problem solving skills.
“When a student is engaged with one of these environments, they are not just working out the answers to problems but they are actually actively projecting themselves into the virtual environments in a way that personalizes the conflicts involved and causes them to become mentally and emotionally invested in the resolutions” (Barab et Al., 2009, p.6., as cited by Makosz.org (n.d.)). I found this to be an interesting statement, and I can certainly see how a well created virtual world with a relevant environment and scenario would benefit the learning of students.
The above link is to a webpage outlining a range if uses for virtual worlds in education. I love the idea of being able to engage students in scenarios which they may encounter in real life in a safe and controlled manner.
After undertaking my own research, I can see the possibilities for the benefits of using virtual worlds. After my experience in Second life, it is evident that in order for these virtual worlds to become a useful resource, the teacher themselves must have a thorough and deep understanding of how they work. This is something I will have to work on…. A lot!
First I have to change my shoes.
Barab, S. A., Dodge, T., Ingram-Goble, A., Volk, C., Peppler, K., Pettyjohn, P. & Solomou, M. (2009). ‘Pedagogical Dramas and Transformational Play: Realizing Narrative through Videogames Design.’ Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 59(15), 332-335.
Makorsz. (n.d). Why use virtual worlds?. Retrieved from http://www.makosz.org/index.php/why-use-virtual-worlds/