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Why Use Virtual Worlds To Teach?

Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/educationau/4291125291/sizes/m/in/photostream/

 

As I have been doing personal research on educational technology around chatbots, I became intrigued in how teachers use virtual worlds as a teaching tool.   This line of questioning led me to the following blog article from Vicki Davis and her students:

Web 3D: Students using OpenSim Reflect on the Pressing Issues that We all Ask about Using Virtual Worlds

In this blog article, Vicki and her students reflect upon how OpenSim is used as a teaching and learning environment.    It’s inspiring to me to see that the students have become teachers.   Very cool.

I have to confess that this blog post makes me want to return to 9th grade so I can take Vicki’s class.

Motivations to use virtual worlds to teach

  1. Students become teachers: The virtual world creates an environment where students can become the teacher.   I was impressed with the student reflections upon their work.   Vicki has created a situation where students need to teach other students about a subject.    The students used their OpenSim creations as teaching tools for other students.
  2. Students learn from making: The act of crafting simulated worlds creates teachable moments.   One student mentioned he was struggling with designing his objects for realism.   I find this kind of playful learning exciting.   As a maker, you always have a tension between the vision of what you want to create and implementing that vision in the tools or media you select.    I LOVE that students are practicing this craft.   The students felt they had a better grasp of working in 3D space(“x,y,z thinking”) through their construction of their virtual world.
  3. Students teach each other about digital citizenship:  Vicki Davis is teaching her students amazing lessons about digital citizenship.   Students are teaching each other about the importance of sharing your identity in a responsible manner.   (i.e. protecting your location, protecting your real name, etc.)    They are teaching each other lessons regarding responsible use of digital media.   They are constructing experiences that help students understand issues around copyrights.    They are also building awareness around “creative commons” work.
  4. Students are learning to collaborate with other students:  As a professional software creator and agile coach, I have learned that great software comes from great teams.    I love that Vicki through the Flat Classroom Movement is teaching students to collaborate with other students across the world.   To learn more, please visit the following link.   This is amazing.
  5. If you blog, you have to practice writing:  I believe it’s cool how Vicki encourages her students to use blogs to write about their journey and communicate.    Why?  In the process of blogging, the students can practice the craft of writing.

Here are a few more helpful links to learning about the work of Vicki Davis:

 

 

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