Virtual Environments and Education

In virtual environments students are able to experiment with identity and develop shared values. As they use and interact with the environment and objects, observe and interact with others, student participants can experientially develop a deeper understanding of a theme, topic, period of time, or concept. Since players are offered many options and the environment responds to their choices, student-players often feel as if they are in control of their learning and, as a result, own their learning process (Herz 2001).

Some students claim that they learn more through an online game than they would have if they had only read the text (Van 2007). Additionally, scaffolded activities are likely to create a safe environment with minimal risk of failure or embarrassment (Steinkuehler 2004).  Virtual environments enable students to practice skills vital to the world of work including but not limited to collaborating, communicating, critical thinking, navigating and evaluating resources. The power of play is motivating for some students ( Squire 2005), another feature available in virtual environments.

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