Consumer and Producer

Avatars gather for a scuba diving lesson at PADI on Second Life

Frequent questions regarding Virtual environments in education are “So what does a student do in a virtual world?  How/what does a student learn?”.   What students can do falls into two categories, they can consume content and they can produce content.  There is much to be learned as both a consumer and producer of content.

As a consumer, a student  interacts with content that has been developed to teach concepts, some are real world experiences and others can only be accomplished in a virtual world.  Even some activities that can be accomplished in the real world may be too dangerous or expensive or otherwise difficult to achieve because of time and physical constraints.  Handicapped and disadvantaged students, in particular, may have an opportunity to do ordinary things in the virtual world that may be impossible in the real world.  Quality  content  aligned to standards and learning objectives for students should be adhered to.

The Student as a Virtual Environment Consumer:

Real Life Experiences in Virtual World Virtual Experiences that are possible in the real world but unsafe, costly, or unrealistic Extraordinary Experiences in Virtual Worlds
  • Read a passage
  • Listen to and react to music
  • Solve a puzzle
  • Visit a museum
  • Conduct an experiment
  • Discuss with fellow students
  • Attend a lecture
  • Conduct an interview
  • Explore a famous location/landmark
  • Participate in a sporting event (sky diving, surfing, ice hockey, scuba diving, etc.)
  • Conduct an experiment with dangerous chemicals
  • Examine results of an ecological disaster over a 10 year time span
  • Travel in space and experience weightlessness
  • Travel in time and participate in an ancient culture
  • Explore art by becoming a part of it
  • Talk to a dragon
  • Become a classic literature character
  • Fly

As a producer, a student participates in virtual environments on a different level.  When producing content, whether it is music, art, architecture, scripts, ecological environments, avatar and/or object movements and appearances the student is performing at a higher level of intellectual activity.  The student must use skills necessary to create in the virtual world but also the background knowledge and ability to synthesize and problem solve.  Students may work independently or in groups to accomplish building a community, scripting animations and sounds, selecting and streaming music, and creating “films” via machinima.  Multiple skills and processes are involved in this more sophisticated interaction with the virtual world.  Instead of visiting an ancient world students would build that world, create appropriate costumes, practice linguistic peculiarities, and locate appropriate  music to include in the environment.  Research, collaboration, and problem solving are used extensively in production and again standards and objectives should be considered.

Walking on asteroids

Technical Skills Real World Skills
  • Building and landscaping  in 3D
  • Digital artwork (making skins, clothing, textures)
  • Scripting objects
  • Developing Animations
  • Sculpting in 3D
  • Performing (singing and playing musical instruments)
  • Machinima (moviemaking in VW)
  • Digital, 3D, and animation software
  • Scripting/programming
  • Writing music, lyrics and performing
  • Planning
  • Collaborating
  • Problem Solving
  • Research
  • Collecting data

7 comments on “Consumer and Producer

  1. Finding relevant sites on this topic is sometimes hard to find. You did an excellent job covering the subject and I look forward to more posts from your site. Do you offer RSS Feeds or feedburner to get more content for our blogs?

  2. Student gains should always be a priority for everyone, teachers and administrators alike – a reality for schools at all times. The VW area is somewhat new to education so there is not a great deal of research yet, but there is some indication that it helps students to engage and thus could be instrumental in helping students learn – and of course make learning gains. We are sometimes a little slow to innovate because of lack of research or proof that something works. Clearly what we are doing now is not working that well, as evidenced by standardized scores and graduation rates across the country. Perhaps some experimentation in the form of Action Research would provide both evidence and student gains. Just a hunch – but it seems that working at a higher level of intellectual activity would indeed benefit “learning gains”. Students today are not the same as students in the 1800’s, it is a different world, yet we continue to teach much the same way.

  3. Work in a VW can also be classified into three categories: nice, important, and essential. While all three can have added value and performing at a higher level of intellectual activity is desired, administration is probably looking for student learning gains…a current reality in our schools.

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