The use of Virtual Worlds to explore and enhance the literary experience is a useful activity for pre-reading, ongoing as a specific piece is read, and/or as reinforcement after the reading is complete. The value of a virtual world in … Continue reading →
Telling stories across multiple platforms and formats addresses multiple learning modalities, encourages participation and motivates participants. Stories are used to teach a wide variety of concepts at all levels of education. A virtual world with a sim designed to draw students into a “game” could potentially result in a high level of learning of a literary work, historical event, or scientific phenomenon. The compelling attributes of transmedia storytelling are the capacity to engage participants and the capacity to promote creativity among the participants. Engagement is crucial to meaningful learning and creativity is identified as a 21st Century skill necessary to solve problems and be competitive in a global environment. As we look into school reform and teacher preparation for 21st Century schools it may be beneficial to ensure that teachers have some knowledge and skills in the the use of Transmedia storytelling.
The VWBPE Conference has a number of events to support machinima endeavors for both novice users and experts. The sessions are being held at different locations on the VWBPE 20 sims built in a Steampunk motif, just for this event.
20 Sim site on SL built specifically for the event 3/17-3/19.
Content-based describing the use of VW for teaching and learning
Workshops offering technical guidance
Tours of virtual spaces used for education
Panel and roundtable discussions
Tools for both newcomers and experienced virtual world users
Game and simulation demonstrations
Machinima screening and competition
Experienced virtual world participants will have the opportunity to learn and share with a global community of educators. This is also an opportunity for experienced users to introduce more reticent colleagues to an environment that offers an alternative format for teaching and learning.
Text allows you to think about what you are communicating, seeing the written word allows for some processing and editing prior to clicking the send button. Text can also be saved and referred to at a later time, always beneficial. Text is the preferred method to communicate when language translation is required and the appropriate communication with hearing impaired students. The downside of text is that it is difficult to simultaneously demonstrate while communicating in text. Another potential drawback is “text speak” and typos. Though typically understood there is potential for misunderstanding and it develops a habit of ignoring typos and using abbreviations. A class participant must be able to read and follow instructions in text. This has potential for problems depending on the audience and individual capabilities. Responding to individual questions in IM texting can be confusing (not seeing the message, having too many message boxes open, blocking view of the screen due to message boxes).
Voice allows an instructor to deliver a message the way that an instructor delivers in a real life classroom setting, a clarification is immediate and intonation is clear. The lack of visual cues requires an instructor to use other methods to engage students and to ensure the message was delivered. Ideally the students are also using voice so that 2-way communication can take place. This requires an etiquette system of watching the screen for who is speaking, listening to the spoken text and speaking at a specific pause, so as not to interrupt the speaker. It requires that the communicators listen more carefully than they may do in a real life classroom. The teacher must also be watchful of students as they are performing particular tasks in the virtual setting. The teacher needs to continuously move the camera around and watch students to ensure that students are performing tasks as directed, providing appropriate verbal direction as needed.
The ideal strategy is to use both text and voice. This addresses various learning styles and takes advantage of the pros of each method, minimizing the cons. This can be done is several ways. The instructor can:
provide notecards with vital information, in text, to supplement the spoken instruction.
type main ideas as he/she speaks.
have an assistant or student type the text as he/she speaks.
take advantage of the back channel in local chat to address questions
Teachers should practice the strategies in order to become comfortable and adept at using them, ultimately selecting which is most appropriate.
When asked to describe virtual worlds to my colleagues I struggle in giving an adequate definition. There is a game quality in virtual worlds, and we know that game based learning is motivating and effective. I run into newcomers “inworld” … Continue reading →
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.