Teachers know that differentiating instruction is most effective and that the more involved in the learning a student is, the more that student will learn. Thus knowledge/concept retention from lecture is significantly less than from group discussion and actual practice by doing. As educators we also know that when an individual “teaches” or provides instruction to another they learn it better themselves. Using gaming in a constructivist teaching environment has merit. The theory of constructivist learning comes from the philosophy that people can understand only what they have personally constructed. The nature of constructivism:
- is interdisciplinary with the emphasis on the learner rather than the teacher
- requires that the learner interacts with the environment and gains understanding
- ensures the student making meaningful connections
- requires problem solving
- requires personal involvement
- is based on the application of concepts to be learned
Constructivist teachers structure learning experiences that foster the creation of meaning, building lessons around big ideas to foster learning. Virtual worlds used in a way that students can build, collaborate, solve problems, and teach others certainly are aligned with the tenets of constructivist teaching.
According to Gartner information, the World of Work in 10 Years will require a similar set of skills:
- Work Swarms -problem solving with less structured situations
- Weak links – work with people you don’t know or barely know
- Working With the Collective – informal groups of people, outside the direct control of the organization
- Spontaneous Work – new opportunities and creating new designs and models.
- Simulation and Experimentation – active engagement with simulated environments
- Hyperconnectedness – existing within networks of networks, unable to completely control any of them.
- Virtual workplace – meetings occurring across time zones and organizations increasingly happen 24 / 7
The alignment between constructivist learning and skills for the future make teaching in a virtual world an obvious option.