I think Virtual Worlds in education will
be the next big thing,
in the same way that Web 2.0 was a few years ago. We are already seeing signs
of this in Scotland
with initiatives like Virtual
This is why I was very keen to visit the Tuesday afternoon session on Virtual Worlds and Social networks at Handheld Learning 2008. I learnt a huge amount from this session and I will try to summarise the most practical things below:
Disney Education – The Disney presentation has seen a bit of poor press elsewhere on the blogosphere. But for Anna and I, we could see a huge amount of potential in some of the sites that they have available and some of the sites that they will be launching in the next few years. For example, we felt that their Disney Fairies site (that we would re-name Disney Woodland People!) could be used as great and magical context for learning in the lower primary school.
Iain Huges (IBM) – Talked about lots of interesting things, but for us we were buzzing about using the latest resource from IBM on a ‘Mirror World’ of the Forbidden City in China. Again for me it is all about a context for learning. For example, children could research and then take members of their class around virtual tour s of the Forbidden City. Or they could take screen shots of the virtual world and describe them in the real world or compare them to photographs in real life.
Dave Taylor – showed some really interesting examples of how virtual worlds could be used in education. In particular he referred to SciLands and Second Health
The SciLands is a mini-continent and user
community in the virtual world platform Second Life devoted exclusively to
science and technology. There are over 20 science and technology related
organisations in the SciLands, including NASA, NOAA, Imperial College London
and Loughborough University.
Second Health is also features in SciLands is a place were doctors and other medical professional undergo training in a virtual environment. I have embedded a YouTube clip of Second Health below. The secenario is based around an emergency and specialist care unit where, ‘Mr Brown suffers a heart attack and is taken by ambulance to a specialist heart hospital where skilled doctors perform a simple procedure to unblock his artery’.
Ron Edwards (Ambient Performance) – Ron gave a great real demonstration of Second Life in action and also talked about some of the work he and his company have been doing to engage disaffected children. He also mentioned the creation of ‘mirror worlds’ (re-creations of places that already exist) and the use of virtual worlds for training and work experience. Ron also gave an impressive demonstration of augmented reality.
in virtual worlds for a few reasons:
- First of all I want to build a virtual ‘mirror’ school (I’ve written about this before but with no real response). I would use this school to help aid the transition process. Children could visit the virtual school before they visited the ‘real’ school. They could explore and ask virtual ‘pre-recorded’ characters questions about the school.
- My second interest is building a virtual school where lesson and tutorials might actually take place. I think his would be appealing for some students and could also potentially serve as a virtual archive of work, lessons and presentations.
- Thirdly, I would like to build a virtual place so that students could display their ‘real’ work ‘virtually’. I think that this would improve the audience that we currently give work that pupils produce.
- I also want to find out more about augmented reality and how I might be able to use this in the classroom.
- Finally, I want to explore how virtual worlds could be used to create cross-curricular links between subjects like Art, CDT and Geography. Here’s a good You Tube Example below.