Virtual Worlds…Virtual Environments…Virtual Realities…it all seems a bit creepy if you ask me.
Dempsey, Reese, and Weston (n.d.) define virtual worlds as worlds that are “characterized by 3-D virtual environments that simulate real-world objects and interactions are available to multiple users simultaneously, on a global basis” (p. 334). Kotsilieris and Dimopulou (2013) write, “virtual worlds are deisgned to offer real-time communication tools, interaction capabilties and collaboration empowerment. Thus, students can gain experiences infeasible to live in the real world” (p. 147). One of the most innovative programs that incorporates learning management systems and virtual worlds is Sloodle.
Kotsilieris and Dimopulou (2013) explain:
Some typical educational activities offered by Sloodle which were implemented within this sample course context are the following:
- Registration- Learner admittance to the course
- Participation in lecture
- Participation in real-time chat
- Glossary support
- Quiz participation
- Voting (p.159).
Last mod when I was in EDU 624, we discussed Virtual Worlds and the idea kind of creeped me out because when I thought of the term “Virtual World”, I automatically thought of the show Catfish on MTV.
I have had a couple of experiences using 3D Virtual Environment Activities with the first experience being through the program IMVU. When I was in EDU 624, I decided to look more into virtual worlds so I could get a better understanding of what it really was/is. I created an account so I could see what it was all about (I am a kinesthetic learner!) In general, I think that Virtual Worlds do have potential to be used in order to engage and motivate diverse students. For example, one of the things I found by using IMVU is that when I was on it told me how many people were on and from how many countries. The main thing that I would like to change about the Virtual World on IMVU is to make it more children friendly because it is a 18+ program.
Most recently, I came across a program called Skoolbo. Skoolbo is a 3D game that focuses on literacy and numeracy that has a virtual world aspect in the sense that players get to create their own avatar. Players also get to play against other avatars. They do not get to communicate, however, they get to compete which still gives it the gaming/motivation/engagement aspect. I enjoyed it and this is something I can see my elementary students playing to reinforce literacy and numeracy including times tables, listening skills, definitions, etcetera. Watch the Skoolbo trailer below and tell me, do you see this benefiting your classroom?
I think there are many 3D technologies that I could use for learning activities that are about money management, child development, and even interior design, however, I need to find those specific programs or activities that would be able to enhance my teaching and learning. I definitely believe, however, that these 3D games and simulations do have many positive implications for learning. For example, at The University of Mississippi, students in the Education program use a virtual reality to practice their teaching skills. This video below shows how it is used in their program.
The problem still exists though, how do we get virtual worlds to “fit” for younger children and adolescents when most virtual reality applications and programs are geared towards adults? In my attempt to create a virtual world, I had no success. Reality is there are not many ways of creating virtual realities for students using specific programs. It is important if educators decide to use virtual worlds in their classrooms to enhance their teaching, they investigate the program thoroughly before using it in their classroom in order to make sure that everything is age appropriate. Overall, I still stand strong in my belief that there are very positive implications for virtual world learning in the classroom; we just need to overcome the difficulty of finding those worlds that are appropriate for our learners.
Kotsilieris, T. & Dimopoulou, N. (2013). The evolution of e-learning in the context of 3d virtual worlds. Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 11(2), 147-167.
Ole Miss News. (2013). Virtual reality classroom trains teachers. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jncMNvMJKDk
Reiser, R. & Dempsey, J. (2011). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
SkoolboTV. (2012). Skoolbo trailer. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_mAcH1n13s