Much is discussed on the topic of Social Networking and the potential use of this technology in education. Research indicates that individuals benefit from a social approach to learning. L. Rendell et al. states that “Social learning (learning through observation or interactionwith other individuals) is widespread in nature and is centralto the remarkable success of humanity…” . Immersive environments have gained acceptance in post-secondary education for the past several years. VLearning: Is The Future Of Online Education A 3D Virtual Classroom? describes several studies that determined a positive correlation between the increased interaction among classmates and instructors in virtual classrooms and involvement in the course work and comprehension of material. It states, “… this to be particularly true for students who have a difficult time engaging in face-to-face discussions, but who will ask questions freely and contribute to live debates in a virtual classroom.”
In their book The New Social Learning Bingham and Connor devote a chapter to the topic of social learning in immersive environments, describing the successful uses in multiple corporate training programs. Social learning involves interaction, engagement and mutual exchange and benefit to participants.
The research on the successful use of immersive environments in professional development and post-secondary education are certainly reason to consider exploring these strategies in the K-12 sector.
Virtual Learning increases interaction between “shy” students who may be challenged engaging in a face-to-face situation. A noted correlation, it does the same for adults who are shy and not quite as adept at face-to-face social interactions. It is a win-win for all.
I wonder if teachers too, relax a bit while interacting with students in a virtual world.