Play connects us to others, fosters creativity, helps with social skills, motivates and increases cognitive growth, according to Vygotsky’s research on play. We like to play and we learn from playing, so playing in a virtual setting seems to be logical enhancement for the educational community to foster learning of basic and complex skills.
Learning organizations are conducting more current research on the educational merits of play, particularly in the virtual setting. e-Adventure is a research project working to facilitate the integration of educational processes in Virtual Learning Environments, promoting their interactive and immersive nature. Learning Technologies is researching virtual worlds as platforms for learning as well as managing the NASA eEducation Island in Second Life.
They have developed Moonbase Alpha, a multiplayer game set on a hypothetical lunar outpost in 3-D immersive setting. It is available for free, and generally has access from behind a firewall.
The Evoke social network game , developed by the World Bank Institute, requires that participants come up with creative solutions to our most urgent social problems.
According to an interview with Robert Hawkins, senior education specialist with the World Bank, virtual games have great potential for self-actualization. This game requires 21st century skills of problem solving, communication and collaboration.
‘Teaching with Games is a report recently released by a UK organization, FutureLabs, describing the results of an investigation of the use of computer games in the classroom. Included are descriptions of processes by which teachers plan and implement games-based learning in existing curricular contexts.
Teachers have typically been inventive in developing games to help children learn. Reaction Grid is a virtual world designed for education where the participants or the teacher can develop the “game”. The environment is ripe for game development focused on almost any curricular area. Ideas from a teacher or from students may be able to help students learn what traditional methods are having difficulty doing.