Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Virtual Worlds in Education

You can fly! Yes, in the future (and now in some cases) you can fly to class! How cool is that?! Soar in and drop into your desk...or into the heart of the Roman Empire, or anywhere - anytime...now that is truly impressive!

Virtual worlds allow students to experience history, business, or countless other subjects first hand; and there is no better way to learn. Ask yourself, would you learn more reading a book about Roman architecture or actually walking through the streets of ancient Rome? Virtual world learning puts the student in charge of learning and enables them to explore, interact, and learn in a realistic environment. However, this type of learning isn't automatic, it requires considerable preparation and structure from the instructor. The instructor must provide students with compelling problems that engage them, while also providing structure and guidance. That is, there should be specific goals that students seek to achieve; not merely running willy-nilly around the virtual world.

However, there is something to be said for experiencing a virtual outside the educational realm. Like may web 2.0 applications, virtual worlds allow people to interact and learn from people from all different cultures around the world. This can only serve to increase tolerance and understanding of others.

Virtual worlds are becoming more and more popular every day, and "Intellagirl", the hot pink-haired superstar from Second Life, says virtual worlds will be ingrained in education within three years. Optimistic, I think, but it could happen, and it would be great for learners all over the world!

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