Virtual Classroom

By Dave

I remember when I first got into computers, and the Internet, I quickly began to wonder why, especially in Canada where I live, there was not more virtual classrooms, or digital classrooms, where students use technology to better understand what was being taught, and could even do so from home.

It could create scenerios where students must pool their skills, abilities and knowledge to create an answer.

For example, Harvard University’s “River City” is a MUVE that involves a society in the late 1800s that’s in political and environmental disrepair–kids must figure out why residents are falling ill.

You give them access to the information they need, and let them use their problem solving skills to find the answer. It could be amazing for the youths that want to learn, as well as helping those that learn better in certain special environments. Virtual learning can move things from being a concept to more of a tangible reality, allowing children to experience things rather than just read it from a book.

Wider adoption of Multi User Virtual Environments raises the question: Are virtual worlds the future of learning for the wired generation?

Ask some educators and they’ll tell you yes. That’s because research has shown that kids engage deeply in virtual environments, gaining a conceptual and ethical understanding of school subjects, according to education experts. And many kids are already comfortable socializing online, so educationally oriented virtual worlds can offer that same sort of stimulus and use that potential to aid learning. There’s one big caveat, however: Virtual worlds must have knowledgeable and motivated teachers driving the train.

I think the teachers have been the biggest limitation thus far, as moving away from traditional methods of teaching and technology use has to be spearheaded by the teachers, and the schools that train teachers, and they have been exceptionally slow to change and adopt new technologies.

I don’t think that virtual classrooms will ever totally replace school bound education, but I do think it could be a useful tool to extend education. Would you be interested in having your children learn in a virtual environment?

Read more on this at News.com’s interesting article about virtual classrooms.

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